Clam Shell Air Propagator

Last updated : 20 May 2015

If you want to do something that’s really fun in your yard, give this a try.  The art or technique of air propagating, commonly known as air layering, has been around for years.  But my friend Hong has created a little plastic device that makes the process simple. Watch the video…

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Air-layering is a method of reproducing plans by inducing roots to form on a plant stem without cutting off the stem from the parent plant.

It is an excellent way of replicating an existing plant without disturbing the parent plant. Air-layering can produce larger plants which are readily mature much faster than growing them from seed or cuttings.

Air-layering procedure is to remove the ring of bark from the stem, to enclose the exposed stem with a moist medium, and to keep the medium moist until enough roots for transplant are formed.

Air-Propagators work with almost all trees, shrubs, and vines – including plants which are hard to root from cuttings.

However, stems of some plants (such as vines) are very fragile and require extra care when you remove / scrape the bark away.

Have fun!


  1. Jackie says

    Hi Mike,
    I watched your video and got inspired :) I air propagated a young river birch tree. I believe it is a Heritage River Birch. I was going to remove the branch anyway due to it growing from the lower side of a main trunk, so I thought I would give it a try. I used pieces of black trash bags. It worked great, there was a fist size root ball. there were nice thick roots so I removed the branch which was fairly large, taller than me 5′ 4″ (which may be the problem, I’m not sure.) and potted it in potting soil so the root ball could get bigger. Within 2 days all the leaves of the air propagated branch have dried up and are now brown. The soil is not dry, I have watered and we have had a lot of rain. Is it just in shock from being cut off the main tree? Should I wait and see what happens or did i kill the poor thing…? :(

  2. Dudley Louvier says

    I bought the clam shells. When is the best time to air layer, Spring, Summer or Fall? I want to do a crabapple, tulip tree, and some dogwood trees.

  3. ashton says

    hi mike i have used this propagators but i have a huge problem with small black ants that invade the ball and make a nest inside,,, then theres no more compost for the roots to grow.. is there anybody out there with a good non chemical ant killer that i can use inside the ball .. will really apreciate any ideas ,,, love and regards from china

  4. Robert says

    alot of your suckering bushes you can take alower branch & bend it to where it touches the ground, dig asmall hole & beary the branch, first bending it till it snaps, not all the way off the mother plant bury & watter, dig up in spring and plant. not all will root but most will. I have good success with hony suckle . keep it wattered.

  5. says

    I have been using a little different system for quit a while. I bought 1000 small plastic bags for about $11.00 + $6.00 shipping. I put in about 1 ½ cup of growing media ( 1 part peat, 3 parts Perlite) Seal the bag with an old seal a meal sealer. Then store the bags for future use. I cut the bag, tie it around the wounded limb. Tie it on with electrical tape, cover it with Al. foil. Wa La, 2 months later I have baby plants. My success rate yesterday was 29 out of 31 rooted.

    Hans P. Gruetzenbach

  6. Penny says

    Hi Mike! I ordered mine a couple of weeks ago and I already have them on 4 of my favorite rose bushes It was really simple to do. I think it was kind of late in the season to start them but I just had to try them out. I would love to get enough rose bushes to line my driveway. Thanks Mike for all the good info you have given us.

  7. Keith says

    Mike, I have some nice grafted Japanese maples of about 10 various types. They use trident maples for the root part. Would the air propagated plants look like the various 10 types I started with?

    • says

      I guess I’ll just wing it, and hope for the best. I figure any extra will run out the bottom. Things dry out REALLY fast here in Phoenix, so I want to make sure the rooting material stays moist enough.

      • Dennis says

        You might put plastic wrap loosely around it to keep the moisture inside from evaporating as quickly. In Ohio, I water them every 2-3 days.

  8. Donnie Adams says

    I odered the clamshells and have already received them, Want to try them on hardwood trees such as Hickory, Sycamore. Mr.Park is a very pleasant person to speak with, he speaks highly of you also. Hey I’m still making the dirt farmers fudge! Good stuff. Thanks for the video on the Clamshell Air Propagators.

    • says


      I have no long term experience using this system, but layering, which is all that this is, has been used for hundreds of years I would guess. So I’d have no reason to think the trees won’t thrive. When you remove the clam shell make sure to loosen the roots to break the pattern of them growing in a circle. That way they’ll quickly establish into the new soil.

    • Dennis says

      Without simple modification, about 3/8 to 1/2 inch is max. There are pre-scored tear outs for the branch, but they can be enlarged a little with a sharp knife

  9. laurelle says

    I just ordered mine. Wow and I get to use my own trees!
    I will let you know how this old lady does.

  10. chuck wolfe says

    Ordered a couple of these clams on May 30th,recieved on June 4th.Fast and freight ony$5.99.I’m happy.

  11. Marty Persilver says

    Mike luv your emails. Mike this isn’t something new been using this system for over forty years. My grandfather showed me this when I was a kid but we use burlap,nylon strings and good fertile soil.Just spray them with the water hose when needed. I have to admit I never tried it on anything but figs hadn’t dawned on me that it would work on other trees lol. PS: black plastic and duct tape are awesome also

  12. Gwen says

    This is one of the best things I’ve seen come along! Please let us know as soon as you get the ordering info. I’m certainly interested in ordering some and will pass this video on to all my gardening friends. I’m sure they’ll be equally as excited. Thanks so much for sharing this with us!!

  13. Eamon says

    This is the best idea I’ve seen in years.
    I have just ordered three dozen of those
    Thanks Mate.

  14. Pam says

    This is the same idea I use for my tomato plants,etc…. I start my tomato plants from seed well before Christmas and by spring I have a very large leggy plant in my window and I put potting soil filled pouches around each stem.. I have a dozen and more hearty plants from one plant.. It works great for me so I can see where this is a great idea!!

  15. antony king says

    That was a wow factor for sure Mike. I would love to try that on a hazelnut or perhaps a Harry Lauder … what do you think? Thanks for the wonderful demo and I am sure it will be a hit!

  16. cedric says

    Hi Mike,
    Do you have any knowledge of how well the new trees do after detaching from the mother and planting.

  17. says

    I just checked on buying those clam shells. The price isn’t bad, but the shipping is the same cost as the product, doubling the cost of the order.

    • says

      Apparently $5.99 is the shipping cost for each type of product, no matter how many you buy. This brings S&H way down per item if you order several of a kind.
      I ordered 5 3-packs of the clam shells. I’m going to try them on my carob tree.

  18. Rhonda says

    I have a houseplant that has gotten too tall. I would like to reroot it halfway up the stem. However, I’m concerned this might kill the plant since it’s the only stem it has, unlike the trees shown in the video. Is this possible?

  19. Ran says

    Mike – is there a code I should use at the AirPropagator website so he knows you sent me??? He asks me to “Enter Code For Special Offers” on his purchase online page.

      • Franny Rustand says

        I just bought several of the clam shells after seeing your video. I know you said you would do this in the spring and summer but I wanted to know if this process works in the winter months? I live in zone 6 in Oklahoma.

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