Bonsai Study Group Forum

General Category => General Bonsai Discussion => Topic started by: Chrisl on July 11, 2011, 04:56 PM

Title: Basic Air Layer Question
Post by: Chrisl on July 11, 2011, 04:56 PM
Hi,

I tried for the first time this summer to try air layering on a couple maples.  It's been about 6 wks now, and now inside the sphagnum moss I see two quite large roots, like 1/8" thickness.  Is this the time to chop it off and plant it, or do I need to wait for more roots to develop? 

Thanks!!
Chris
Title: Re: Basic Air Layer Question
Post by: plantmanky on July 11, 2011, 05:52 PM
Is this the time to chop it off and plant it, or do I need to wait for more roots to develop?  /quote]

Chris,

I would wait until the roots fill the bag before you cut it off and try and plant it. Air layers will sulk for a while after they have been cut off and the more roots you have the less they will sulk.  I'm doing some air layers on a Seiju elm now and I won't even look at them until some time in late September.  Often, on difficult trees, it's advantageous to leave them alone all winter and then cut them off and pot them up when your doing repotting next spring.  The choice is  yours but I'd wait, you'll have better success if you do.
Title: Re: Basic Air Layer Question
Post by: William N. Valavanis on July 12, 2011, 07:15 AM
The best method to remove air layers is to first wait until you see many roots in the bag/poly/foil. Then remove the covering and DO NOT CUT THE BRANCH OFF. But, rather, add another smaller layer of long-fibered sphagnum moss over the new roots. Then wait a few weeks and remove.

Very often the first new roots are very brittle and thick. They may be damaged when removed and spread out in the new potting mix. By applying another smaller layer of long-fibered sphagnum moss the root will very quickly divide and form a nice network of fibrous feeder roots which will more easily grow into the new soil mix.

It works for me.

Bill

PS: If you live in a cold climate I would remove the air layer before winter arrives or else put the tree into extra winter protection because the roots are not acclimated to cold. In fact, even when you do remove the newly rooted air layers, provide extra winter protection for the first winter.
Title: Re: Basic Air Layer Question
Post by: Chrisl on July 12, 2011, 03:58 PM
Thank You very much Plantmanky and William!  That's exactly what I needed to know.  I thought 6 wks seemed a bit too soon.  I like you idea too William of adding a bit more to get finer roots. 

Again Thanks guys!

Chris
Title: Re: Basic Air Layer Question
Post by: yamins on July 12, 2011, 05:40 PM
Bill,

When you say "extra winter protection", what do you mean?  Do you have e.g. a particular low-temperature limit in mind?

The reason I ask is that I live in a relatively cold climate (6b/7a), and I have a black pine and a Hondo spruce that I'm layering.   I do see some roots beginning on both, but perhaps not enough to remove the layers this year.  The layers went on in late March/early April, respectively, and I was planning to look at them for removal in September/October -- with the expectation that I might have to wait at least until next March and maybe even Fall of 2012 to get enough roots.   If I need to carry the layers on the trees through the winter, what type of protection do you recommend?
Title: Re: Basic Air Layer Question
Post by: William N. Valavanis on July 12, 2011, 06:10 PM
By extra winter protection I mean not allowing the air layered tree to freeze solid. So try to keep it about 30 to 35F during the winter, and remember, dark is better than an area which gets sun. This is for areas north of Washington, DC. In southern areas light may be necessary during the winter. But, light is not necessary and should be avoided north of Washington, DC.

Bill
Title: Re: Basic Air Layer Question
Post by: nathanbs on July 12, 2011, 06:51 PM
William can you please explain why the area in the sun gets colder than in a dark area North of Washington DC? I dont understand this
Title: Re: Basic Air Layer Question
Post by: William N. Valavanis on July 12, 2011, 07:25 PM
Sorry if I was confusing:

In the cold northern areas (north of Washington, DC) plants go into a deeper dormancy than those grown elsewhere. Here in the north it's best to keep bonsai in a cold dark location with no light. If light gets in the temperatures will go up and down. No wind is best too. Please remember this is for cold climates. This cannot be done where it's warmer.

Bill
Title: Re: Basic Air Layer Question
Post by: yamins on July 12, 2011, 07:33 PM
Bill,
Thanks so much for the info, very much appreciated.
Dan
Title: Re: Basic Air Layer Question
Post by: Chrisl on July 13, 2011, 10:26 AM
Bill, speaking of over wintering, I kept a Chinese Elm in the dark part of my basement last yr.  Yet the Elm was shooting up white long skinny new growth...is this normal?  It also got scales while being down there.  The other plants down there remained in dormancy until I brought them outside.  I know I kept them down a bit too long as I'm new to this area and wasn't sure of the weather.  Maybe this had something to do with it?
Thanks for the help.  In Cali, I didn't have to worry about freezing/over-winterizing plants.  So I know next to nothing about this topic.
Chris
Title: Re: Basic Air Layer Question
Post by: coh on July 13, 2011, 10:29 AM
Follow-up question to Bill, if he sees this - when you remove and pot up the air layer, how do you handle the new roots? I've seen 2 different approaches suggested: 1) Take out the spaghnum and arrange the roots before repotting, and 2) Do not even touch the roots when doing the first potting - just put the whole mass (roots and sphagnum) into a pot with suitable mix and don't do anything else until the next repotting.

I've read that those new roots are very fragile and easily broken where they join the trunk, but haven't done enough layering to have a good feel for this.

Chris
Title: Re: Basic Air Layer Question
Post by: coh on July 13, 2011, 11:43 AM
Bill, speaking of over wintering, I kept a Chinese Elm in the dark part of my basement last yr.  Yet the Elm was shooting up white long skinny new growth...is this normal?  It also got scales while being down there.  The other plants down there remained in dormancy until I brought them outside.  I know I kept them down a bit too long as I'm new to this area and wasn't sure of the weather.  Maybe this had something to do with it?
Thanks for the help.  In Cali, I didn't have to worry about freezing/over-winterizing plants.  So I know next to nothing about this topic.
Chris

What was the temperature in your basement? Sounds like it wasn't cold enough to keep the elm dormant despite the lack of light. And, where are you located? Zone 6b/7a includes a lot of territory.

Chris
Title: Re: Basic Air Layer Question
Post by: William N. Valavanis on July 13, 2011, 09:43 PM
Chris,

Usually I spread the roots radially after removing from the parent plant.

I overwinter my Chinese elms (even those imported from China) outside where I try to maintain a 27F minimum temperature. They leaf out in late April, right on time, never earlier. I believe your basement is too warm.

Bill
Title: Re: Basic Air Layer Question
Post by: Chrisl on July 14, 2011, 10:53 AM
Hi Bill and Chris,  I'm in zone 5 in Chicago. The basement I think you all are correct in that it was too warm.  I have no garage unfortunately.  And since I'm new to winter, I really don't understand how to protect any plants left outside during winter.  I'm trying to convince my other half of getting a small greenhouse, but if that fails, I have to get a 'game plan' to protect my plants.   Interestingly enough, my Bald Cypress stayed dormant downstairs.

Thanks for the help guys, I appreciate it!

Chris
Title: Re: Basic Air Layer Question
Post by: jferrier on July 14, 2011, 11:32 AM
Chris,
I start my layers for maples in spring just after leaves have formed (around late March here) and let the roots grow as long as I can before cutting. Usually around early or mid Sept. My maples nearly stop growing here in the summer heat and put out an almost spring like burst of growth when the temps start to get cooler again in the fall. I like to make the cut close to this time so the temps that are more favorable to rapid growth will help the newly cut tree regain its strength. I have found that this has been enough time to get plenty of roots to sustain a maple layer.
Title: Re: Basic Air Layer Question
Post by: sdonny on September 18, 2013, 11:55 AM
I also live in a cold climate (New Hampshire).  When the buds were coming out in April, I attempted six air layers on full grown rhododendrons in my yard for future bonsai stock.  When I checked the air layers in mid-July hoping to plant, I had very little roots developing so I wrapped them back up and let them keep going.  When I checked recently this mid-September, I had more roots but not the mass of roots some of you suggest ideally should be seen through the plastic.  My question is since I live in a cold climate and have air layered mature landscape trees that I cannot easily shelter inside, is my best option to chop these air layers and plant now in the ground with minimal roots?  Also, If I chop and plant in the ground now, should I remove any branches or leaves/half leaves?  Can I let these air layers go another half growing season as some of you have suggested and am wondering if that would also be an option in the future for other slow developing air layers as well since most of my stock trees are landscape or kept field growing in the ground year round.  I might leave one or two air layers in place to see how they winter (possibly additionally wrapping with foam padding).

BTW, Air layer diameters ranged from 1/2" to 2 and I followed typical advice using sphagnum moss snuggly wrapped with clear plastic and aluminum foil only without using root hormone.  Moss stayed moist all summer (only needed to water once in July when inspected).  Possibly the moss was too wet initially or wrapped too tight to allow proper air flow for new roots, though there has been no signs of mold.  I will try again next Summer hoping to get better root generation with my new air layers and will also try some apple, mountain ash and a mature Japanese red maple from my yard that I would like to cultivate as well.  Any suggestions or advice overwintering air layers in cold climates is appreciated.
Title: Re: Basic Air Layer Question
Post by: 0soyoung on September 18, 2013, 08:49 PM
Leave them on the tree and do your best to insulate them when it gets cold. If the few roots you presently have get killed, you will just start over next season and, hopefully, a mass of roots will grow more quickly then. If you cut the layer off without enough roots, it will die regardless of what protection you try to provide.
Title: Re: Basic Air Layer Question
Post by: sdonny on September 20, 2013, 11:23 AM
Ok, I will let them overwinter and see is they how they look next June.  Thanks.