Plants that propagate easily as cuttings also respond well to air layering, which produces a rooted cutting while still on the parent plant. With this method, sapwood stays intact, delivering water and nutrients to the branch. The branch responds to the removal of the bark ring by sending roots into the moss applied to the wound. Air layering works well with many tropical plants and trees including lychee, camellia and figs. Many woody northern plants, including common fruit trees, do not reproduce well by either cuttings or air layering.
Fill a small bucket with water. Place a few handfuls of sphagnum moss in the water to soak. Give the moss about an hour to thoroughly absorb water.
Choose a vigorous branch or side shoot. Select a layering site at least a foot below the tip of the branch. Remove all leaves and twigs from an eight inch section centered on the layering. With a sharp grafting knife make two cuts through the bark and cambium 3/4 inch apart and completely ringing the branch. Place the cuts 6 inches or more from the junction with the main plant to give plenty of working room. Cut down to the sapwood but try not to injure the sapwood itself.
Make a third cut connecting the two ring cuts. Insert the point of the knife under one edge of the bark ring and pry the bark loose. If any bits of bark remain attached to the wounded sapwood, scrape the wood clean with the knife. Any green cambium left on the wound could heal the area with new bark.
Squeeze a handful of sphagum moss to wring out excess water and wrap the moss around the layering wound. Cover all exposed sapwood and several inches above and below the wound. Use several turns of plastic wrap to cover the area. Black plastic makes a good outer layer--if the air layering receives any direct sunlight, cover the wrap with aluminum foil instead. Tie the wrapping off above and below the air layer with twist ties.
Check the air layering after a month to see if a root ball developed. When root tips are visible through the clear plastic layer, sever the branch below the root system. Transplant to a container filled with humus rich potting soil. Allow the plant to recover before planting in a permanent location.