bonsai air layer

Bonsai Air Layer: A Step-by-Step Guide for Beginners

If you’re a bonsai enthusiast looking to take your skills to the next level, one technique you should definitely consider is air layering. This technique involves creating a new root system on a branch of your bonsai, allowing you to eventually remove it and create a whole new tree. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the process of bonsai air layering step by step, so you can get started on your own tree today.

What is Bonsai Air Layering?

Bonsai air layering is a technique that involves creating a new root system on a branch of your bonsai. This allows you to eventually remove the branch and create a whole new tree, while still maintaining the original tree’s structure. Essentially, you’re creating a new tree from an existing one.

Why Do Bonsai Air Layering?

There are a few reasons why you might choose to air layer your bonsai. First and foremost, it allows you to create a new tree without having to start from scratch. This can save you time and effort, especially if you’re working with a tree that you’re already attached to. Additionally, air layering can help you create a more balanced and aesthetically pleasing tree, as you can choose which branches to remove and which to keep.

When is the Best Time to Air Layer a Bonsai?

The best time to air layer a bonsai is typically in the spring or early summer, when the tree is actively growing. This will give your new roots the best chance to grow and establish themselves before the winter months.

How to Air Layer a Bonsai: Step-by-Step Guide

Step 1: Choose a Branch

The first step in air layering your bonsai is to choose a branch to work with. Look for a branch that is at least 1 inch in diameter and has some foliage growing on it.

Step 2: Remove the Bark

Using a sharp knife, carefully remove a ring of bark from around the branch. This will create a small, exposed area where your new roots can grow.

Step 3: Apply Rooting Hormone

Apply rooting hormone to the exposed area of the branch. This will help stimulate root growth and increase your chances of success.

Step 4: Wrap the Area

Wrap the exposed area of the branch with moist sphagnum moss. This will help keep the area moist and encourage root growth.

Step 5: Wrap with Plastic

Wrap the sphagnum moss with plastic wrap, creating a seal around the exposed area. This will help maintain moisture and create a humid environment for your new roots to grow.

Step 6: Wait

Wait for your new roots to grow. This can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months, depending on the size and age of your bonsai.

Step 7: Check for Roots

Once you see roots growing through the sphagnum moss, it’s time to check for root development. Gently remove the plastic wrap and carefully peel back the sphagnum moss to see if roots have formed.

Step 8: Cut the Branch

If your new roots have formed, it’s time to cut the branch from the original tree. Use a sharp knife or pruning shears to carefully remove the branch.

Step 9: Plant Your New Bonsai

Plant your new bonsai in a pot or container with fresh soil. Water it thoroughly and keep it in a shaded area for a few days to help it adjust to its new environment.


Bonsai air layering is a great technique for creating new trees while maintaining the structure of your original bonsai. It’s a relatively simple process that can be done by beginners, and can save you time and effort in creating a new tree from scratch. If you’re interested in trying this technique, be sure to choose a branch that is at least 1 inch in diameter, apply rooting hormone, and be patient while waiting for your new roots to grow. With a little time and effort, you’ll be able to create a beautiful new bonsai tree using the air layering technique.

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