Air Layering a Dieffenbachia

(Question)

This is a question regarding indoor gardening. I have a rather large dieffenbachia and I air layered it in the past, like maybe 10 years ago. What I’m wondering is it too late to do the air layering again because its passed summer and we’re not getting as much daylight was we did. That’s my concern or does it make a difference because it’s an indoor plant. The stock is, I’m guessing, the size of a loonie. It’s good stock. But as I say I’m concerned because I don’t know it its too late and there’s not enough daylight to help it along.

 

 

(Answer)

Air layering is a method of plant propagation which works well with indoor plants that develop thick woody stems that may not respond well to stem cuttings. Large indoor plants, such as Dieffenbachia, that grow too tall for their space and get “leggy”, as well as loose their lower leaves are prime candidates for air layering. The main disadvantage of layering is that it takes quite some time for the roots to appear. However, with air layering an incision is made about 12-14 ins down the stem, which gets wrapped up.  It is still left attached the parent plant and nourished by it, which makes it stronger. Once roots are clearly visible, where the cut was made the stem can be severed below them and you have a new plant that can be potted up.

It would appear the time of year for air layering indoor plants is not crucial for a successful outcome. A search of numerous gardening resources failed to find any information regarding the best time of year to attempt air layering of houseplants. In the Reader’s Digest Illustrated Guide to Gardening in Canada it did state that “rather than discarding … an overgrown plant, air layer it in the spring to produce, a new, shorter-stemmed plant.”

Spring may well be the best time to air layer your plant, as the idea is to keep the sphagnum moss around the cut moist.  The heat in your home will be turned on soon and the inside will become drier.  Bear in mind that your new plant will require indirect light to stimulate growth. The good thing is that Dieffenbachia tolerates low light.

A word of caution when it comes to the sap of Dieffenbachia  – it is toxic so you should wear gardening gloves when touching this plant.

Below are links to articles on the air-layering process itself and the Dieffenbachia plant:

https://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/earthkind/landscape/air-layering/

https://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/extension/ornamentals/airlayer/airlayer.html

http://www.ladybug.uconn.edu/FactSheets/dieffenbachia.php