Airlayer technique using potting soil in a bag
Some of you have expressed an interest to learn how to airlayer a fig tree. There are many variations to the technique however the one I prefer to use is a ziplock bag filled with moist potting soil. Some folks will use moist moss wrapped around the branch but I prefer the soil method because I can easily pot this up in a larger container without stressing the plant too much and I can also mail this airlayer to a friend as is, without removing the plastic as you will understand later on in this presentation. I apologize to those who may find this material repeated.
First, cut off the ziplock side of the plastic baggie (In this case I'm using a quart size bag for this size of airlayer).
Next cut off the bottom seam from the bag.
What you end up with is a plastic tube.
I've chosen this branch to become my airlayer. I'm going to remove a ring of bark toward the base of the branch (far right in the photo). As a rule, use the diameter of the branch size to approximate the width of the bark you will remove. The airlayer will set roots just above the ring so try to remove this piece just under a node. In this case, it doesn't matter because the nodes are close together and I can remove the ring from inbetween the nodes.
Make two parallel cuts around the entire branch and then connect those cuts with a line in the middle.
Using the tip of your knife or even your fingernail, it is pretty easy to peel away the bark from inbetween the end cuts.
This photo shows you how it looks once the entire ring is removed.
Next, I pull the plastic bag tube over my forearm and gather up the small branches and leaves in my hand. This way, it's quite easy to thread the plastic sleeve over the leaves and down to the rooting location.
Take a piece of twine or string and secure the sleeve just below the ring of bark that was removed. Make sure that the end of the sleeve is entirely air tight. The reason being, if there is even a small opening at either end of the sleeve, moisture will escape from the rooting medium and the root ball could dry out.
Next, fill the sleeve with moist (not soaking wet)potting soil of your choice. Shake the sleeve so that some of the folded pockets fill with soil. Then leave enough plastic at the end so that you can secure this with string just like the bottom end.
Wrapping the finished product with aluminum foil will help reflect the sun and keep your airlayer cool.
Depending on the fig variety and the conditions of the process, most airlayers will show roots in about 4-6 weeks(some sooner). Here is a photo of what to expect when you see roots forming inside the plastic sleeve. This is the time when the airlayer is ready to be removed from the mother tree and placed in it's own pot.