Tip to Pre-Label Marcots or Air-Layers

In the first part of this two-part series, I discussed a technique to identify marcots for pre-labeling them in a multi-plant garden pot. The purpose is to easily identify the marcots without relying on flowers' color come harvest time. That's because there may be no flowers when the marcots have rooted. By identifying marcots and then pre-labeling them, removes the confusion of identification in a multi-plant garden pot.

But there's more. Say you have several different bougainvilleas planted to different pots. Then you managed to cut or harvest many marcots from these different pots and then put them in a big pile or a tray of water. How will you identify the marcots when you'll be potting them? This is especially if they have no flowers, and the leaves look very similar. How will you know which bougainvillea variety is one from the others?

Easy Technique to Pre-Label Marcots

  • Masking Tape
  • Ballpen or Fine Pen Marker
  • Pair of Scissors


This procedure of pre-labeling marcots is quite easy. Do these steps after you have air-layered the branches.

  1. Determine the identity of the marcot based on the previous article, Identifying and Pre-Labeling Marcots.

  2. On a roll of masking tape, write your preferred name (I use letters) to identify the marcot. Write near the end of the masking tape.

  3. From the written name, measure around 1 or more inches and rewrite the name, as shown below.

    The name I put is "V" which is my label for the violet flower bracts of the bougainvillea.

  4. With a pair of scissors, cut the piece of masking tape showing the 2 names. Below is the cut label. The distance between the two names depend on the thickness of the branch that you air-layered. In the label below, the distance between the 2 "V"'s is around 1 inch and is sufficient for a branch that's 1/4 inch thick.

  5. Position the label at a portion of the air-layered branch that is ABOVE the marcot. If you position the label below the marcot, the label will remain with the plant when you cut and harvest the rooted marcot.

  6. With fingers of both hands, slowly wrap the label VERY LOOSELY around the branch with the sticky side inside.

  7. Pinch the two outer ends of the label so the two ends stick to each other as shown below.

    The label needs to be loose so it doesn't unnecessarily constrict the branch. Removal of the label will then be easier when the harvested marcot is potted. Since the name is written on both sides of the tabs of the label, the name is readable from any angle.

  8. Here's a labeled marcot with a different name ("P"). Note its position above the marcot. When the marcot is removed at the cutting point, the label goes with the marcot, making it convenient for easy identification.

  9. Here's a closer view of the label, showing the name of the marcot on both sides of the label tab.

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