Easy Compound Marcotting or Air-Layering for Quick Propagation

Spawned by the article on serpentine air-layering, I'm writing this one on how to easily propagate your favorite vines using compound marcotting.

As long as the vine branch is thick enough to perform marcotting, then you do marcotting in between nodes. Nodes that have leaves or foliage are preferable.

Before, I was hesitant to air-layer several parts of the vine (in other words multiple marcots), for fear that the vine may not have the "energy" to allow the marcots to root. That, however, is not so much the case.

Problems with Compound Marcotting

If there's one obstacle in the rooting of marcots that were made using compound marcotting, it is the drying up of the marcot medium. This is especially so during hot days. As in many gardening techniques, it is best to marcot garden plants during the rainy season.

Shown below is a branch of the Nong Nooch vine that has been marcotted at four points. The succeeding four photos show the marcots in more detail.

Notice that the last marcot (#4) has the least number of roots. It seems that it is always the marcots closest to the base (or base marcots) of the plant that has the most robust roots. The main reason is because the marcots closer to the base root first.

However, we cannot simply cut off the marcots that have rooted already just because they're ready. That defeats the whole point of compound marcotting. We should be patient enough to wait for the last in a series of compound marcots (or tail-end marcots) to root.

Remember, the marcots do not root all at the same time, with the ones at the tail-end rooting last.

Drying of the Marcots Near the Base

Because of this, there is the tendency for the marcots near the garden vine's base to easily dry up. The comparatively bigger and more vigorous roots of these marcots will have a greater need for water. The bigger they become, the more that they easily soak up water.

It's a cycle. The longer it takes for the tail-end marcots to root, the more will the base marcots have need for water. There is danger of course, that the roots wil dry up also when the marcot medium becomes too dry.

Syringe Solution to Keep Marcots Moist

In a previous article, I mentioned how the use of a syringe to revive dried air-layers in Cape Honeysuckle plant from drying up. The same principle applies here. You might actually need to do this almost everyday starting from when the base marcots have rooted. Do the procedure below to any marcot that looks like drying up.


  1. Remove the syringe needle protective cap as shown.

  2. Dip the syringe needle in water. While holding the syringe barrel with one hand, pull the plunger top with the other hand. This will fill the syringe barrel with water.

  3. Hold the marcot with one hand. Hold the syringe with the other hand. My preference for holding the syringe is as shown below.

    Wrap three or four fingers on the barrel with the plunger top nearest to the base of the thumb. Slowly push the plunger top with the thumb to discharge water inside the marcot.

  4. Here's a video of the marcot or air-layer absorbing the injected water. Notice how the marcot changes color as the plunger seal goes down the barrel. Stop when the marcot has filled or when water starts to squirt or drip out. When the marcot fills up with water, pull out the syringe needle.

  5. Replace the protective cap for safety purposes before storing.

Cutting and Potting the Rooted Marcots

For the Nong Nooch vine, I'd prefer the marcotted vine branches hanging or dangling as shown below. Just keep them hanging somewhere in the garden where they don't get in the way of paths or gardening activities.

When all the marcots of a whole branch have rooted, cut the marcots and put them in a bin of water while you prepare the materials for repotting (soil mix, seedling bags, etc.). It is typical to harvest many rooted marcots at the same time especially when you have many garden plants that have been compound-marcotted.

Pot the harvested marcots in individual seedling bags as shown.

This technique is definitely one way of propagating garden vines quickly.

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