Air Layering

A technique used to produce a plant of size in a minimum of time. Best attempted in November/December when the bark can be easily removed.
On a healthy camellia bush select a branch with good growth in its upper part and if possible on the least exposed side of the bush. The selected stem is girdled by removing a ring of bark 2 to 3 cm wide. Dust the wound with a growth promoting substance. A handful fo moist sphagnum moss is packed around the cut surface. To prevent the moss from drying out wrap a square of black polythene film, say 20 x 20 cm, around the moss ball. Hold this plastic wrap in place temporarily with a plastic twist-tie top and bottom (allows freer use of operator's hands for the next stage).
Using sticky tape, bind the top and bottom of the polythene square with several turns of the tape above and below the wad area. The top binding must be so firm that moisture cannot trickle down the stem and into the moss. If it did the moss would become waterlogged and devoid of oxygen, and the roots would not develop. The polythene film allows the transfer of air, but no moisture can escape from the inside.
Roots will develop from the cambial tissue exposed by the girdling and gradually extend through the moss ball. This will take several months. In six months lightly squeeze the covered moss ball. Repeat light squeezing until the moss ball feels firm - maybe eight to nine months.
When mass of roots is evident, remove the ties and plastic covering. Do not break up the moss ball. Cut the stem below the moss and root ball. Place in a container half filled with a standard potting mix. Carefully fill the container and gently press the mix towards the moss and root ball. Stake the upper growth to prevent wind-rock and thus disturbance of the roots. Place the container in a shady spot and keep moist. A regular dilute feed will help root extension from the moss ball into the potting mix.
Remove all buds that form during the first year of growth. The wood growth is what you require.

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