Layering is a means of plant propagation
Plant propagation
Plant propagation is the process of creating new plants from a variety of sources: seeds, cuttings, bulbs and other plant parts. Plant propagation can also refer to the artificial or natural dispersal of plants.-Sexual propagation :...

 in which a portion of an aerial stem
Plant stem
A stem is one of two main structural axes of a vascular plant. The stem is normally divided into nodes and internodes, the nodes hold buds which grow into one or more leaves, inflorescence , conifer cones, roots, other stems etc. The internodes distance one node from another...

 grows root
In vascular plants, the root is the organ of a plant that typically lies below the surface of the soil. This is not always the case, however, since a root can also be aerial or aerating . Furthermore, a stem normally occurring below ground is not exceptional either...

s while still attached to the parent plant and then detaches as an independent plant. Layering has evolved as a common means of vegetative propagation of numerous species in natural environments. Layering is also utilized by horticulturists to propagate desirable plants.

Natural layering typically occurs when a branch touches the ground, whereupon it produces adventitious roots. At a later stage the connection with the parent plant is severed and a new plant is produced as a result.

The horticultural layering process typically involves wounding the target region to expose the inner stem and optionally applying rooting compound
Auxins are a class of plant hormones with some morphogen-like characteristics. Auxins have a cardinal role in coordination of many growth and behavioral processes in the plant's life cycle and are essential for plant body development. Auxins and their role in plant growth were first described by...

s. In ground layering, the stem is bent down and the target region buried in the soil. This is done in plant nurseries in imitation of natural layering by many plants such as bramble
Brambles are thorny plants of the genus Rubus, in the rose family . Bramble fruit is the fruit of any such plant, including the blackberry and raspberry. The word comes from Germanic *bram-bezi, whence also German Brombeere , Dutch Braam and French framboise...

s which bow over and touch the tip on the ground, at which point it grows roots and, when separated, can continue as a separate plant. In either case, the rooting process may take from several weeks to a year.

Layering is more complicated than taking cuttings, but has the advantage that the propagated portion can continue to receive water
Water is a chemical substance with the chemical formula H2O. A water molecule contains one oxygen and two hydrogen atoms connected by covalent bonds. Water is a liquid at ambient conditions, but it often co-exists on Earth with its solid state, ice, and gaseous state . Water also exists in a...

 and nutrient
A nutrient is a chemical that an organism needs to live and grow or a substance used in an organism's metabolism which must be taken in from its environment. They are used to build and repair tissues, regulate body processes and are converted to and used as energy...

s from the parent plant while it is forming roots. This is important for plants that form roots slowly, or for propagating large pieces.

Ground layering

Ground layering is the typical propagation technique for the popular Malling-Merton series2 of clonal
Cloning in biology is the process of producing similar populations of genetically identical individuals that occurs in nature when organisms such as bacteria, insects or plants reproduce asexually. Cloning in biotechnology refers to processes used to create copies of DNA fragments , cells , or...

The apple is the pomaceous fruit of the apple tree, species Malus domestica in the rose family . It is one of the most widely cultivated tree fruits, and the most widely known of the many members of genus Malus that are used by humans. Apple grow on small, deciduous trees that blossom in the spring...

 rootstocks in which the original plants are set in the ground with the stem nearly horizontal, which forces side buds to grow upward. After these are started the original stem is buried up to the tip. At the end of the growing season, the side branches will have rooted, and can be separated while the plant is dormant. Some of these will be used for grafting
Grafting is a horticultural technique whereby tissues from one plant are inserted into those of another so that the two sets of vascular tissues may join together. This vascular joining is called inosculation...

 rootstocks, and some can be reused in the nursery for the next growing season's crop.

Air layering

In air layering (or marcotting), the target region is wounded and then surrounded in a moisture-retaining wrapper such as sphagnum moss, which is further surrounded in a moisture barrier such as polyethylene
Polyethylene or polythene is the most widely used plastic, with an annual production of approximately 80 million metric tons...

film. Rooting hormone is often applied to encourage the wounded region to grow roots. When sufficient roots have grown from the wound, the stem from the parent plant is removed and planted. It takes about three months for the new plant to become mature.

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