Identifying and Pre-Labeling Marcots

When we were still in a buying frenzy for bougainvilleas, one of the pots we bought had two bougainvillea plants in it. One had white bracts and the other, violet. The garden pot had plenty of both of these colors and was absolutely gorgeous. I decided right there that I would be marcotting these two plants in the pot.

I've been marcotting (air-layering) plants for some time now and it's nothing new to me. Immediately I started marcotting all the branches that were a bit mature and had the likelihood of successful rooting. There were I think a dozen marcots that I air-layered that day.

Here is the garden pot with the two bougainvilleas displaying beautiful splashes of violet and white bracts.

Like all air layering, you'll just have to wait until the roots start showing. Some of the marcots showed early signs of rooting and I harvested these marcots or air-layers and quickly labeled them in the new seedling bags. I have my own homemade garden plant labels or markers for this activity.

Problem of Identifying the Marcots

At first, it was easy enough to identify and then label the violet marcots from the white ones. You can immediately tell from the color of the flower bracts. With the first batch of marcots repotted, I waited for the others to root. Slowly though, the flower bracts of the bougainvilleas have started to fade and drop.

When all the bracts have dropped, I realized that there were still marcots in there that were just starting to root. Here's the pot after the bracts have dropped.

My problem then was how to identify the marcots that were ready to be harvested, but with no flower bract to identify the color. Remember, there are two plants in the pot and both have variegated leaves that look very similar.

I just decided to wait it out until new flowers bloomed so I could identify them correctly.

Pre-labeling Marcots for Early Identification

My solution to prevent the above from recurring is to identify and pre-label or pre-tag the marcots right after the air-layering task. This way, when harvesting comes, the marcots may be safely cut all at the same time and collected in a batch. You can then repot them individually because the label or tag identifying the marcot is still attached.

How to Identify the Marcot from Multiple Plants in One Pot

  • Color of the Flower Bracts

    This is the more obvious one. Simply take note of the color of the flower bract of the branch you're air-layering and then write it down on the label for the marcot.

  • Root or Base of the Plant or other Markings

    Take note of one of the plant's root or base appearance. For instance, the bases of the two bougainvillea plants in my pot appear below.

    There's a small bamboo pole on the right side and the bases of the two plants are behind it. I always take note that the base on the left that has multiple branches bears the violet flower while the more upright stem at the right bears the white flower bract. Or, you could actually just stake a plant label near the plant's base.

    So, if a branch is air-layered, and there are no flowers to determine the color, just trace the branch back to the base of the plant to determine the color.

  • Naming convention

    It is really up to your personal preference for the names to be used in the label. I only use a single letter. For the above two colors, I use:

    • "V" for the Violet bracts. The 2 branches of the letter "V" suggests a branched plant base just like shown in pic above. Obviously, "V" also stands for violet.

    • "P" for the White bracts. The upright form of the letter "P" suggests an upright plant trunk as shown in the pic above. "P" may stand for pale. I intentionally did not choose "W" for white because there may be a situation where the "W" letter fades and I confuse it with "V".

Part 2 of this 2-part series shows a simple method of pre-labeling air-layers or marcots.

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