Air layering a trident maple in the summer

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#1
I'm hoping to air layer the top half of my trident maple, because the trunk is too tall, and want to see if I can get a "free" tree out of the trunk chop.

It's just getting to the hot part of the summer in Georgia... Did I miss my window this year? Or can I go ahead and start the air layer in the next few days? If I do start the air-layer now, when would be an appropriate time to do the separation? Would this be better to do in late autumn, or late winter?

I'm planning to make the chop at the red line, and use the branch under the green line as the new leader for the bottom tree.

trident.jpg

Thanks in advance for your help!
 
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#2
I think it would be fine to start the airlayer now. You may not have enough roots for separation by the end of summer but you could take it off next spring. As I understand air layers can be taken any time the tree is actively growing.
 

AlainK

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#5
Yes, now is the right time. Acer buergerianum (trident maples) are easy to air-layer.

On a rather big one, I first made a circular cut around the branches, then secured a copper wire around it, and left it for a season so the bark would produce a swelling (more cells, more chances for new roots).

The tree when I bought it:



The following year (June):


Actually, it was not necessary to cut into the branch so deep, but:





Late October, the same year:

 
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#6
Now is a fine time to start an air layer, but . . .

1) From my experience, one of the biggest factors of air-layer success is the vigor of the plant. Your plant has pretty small leaves, which is what we want for bonsai, but this tells me that it is not growing vigorously.

2) Other than for practice, why layer something less than an inch in diameter? I understand you're planning to remove that section, but you have to ask yourself: for the size and character of the layered section, is it worth the time, effort, and stress to the mother plant?

The tourniquet method demonstrated by Alain is very helpful in promoting roots all around the trunk, and it also causes some nice (sometimes extreme) basal swelling. That would be something to do now, in preparation for layering next year. Here are a couple of pics of an air-layer I did last year using this method. Notice the growth extensions that were removed. This thing was growing very vigorously in a raised planter.

20150826_173048.jpg
20150826_173106.jpg
 
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#8
Your plant has pretty small leaves, which is what we want for bonsai, but this tells me that it is not growing vigorously.
I defoliated this maple about six weeks ago, without understanding the full effects of it. It did reduce the leaf size, but now I know that this is at the cost of thickening the branches.

The tourniquet method demonstrated by Alain is very helpful in promoting roots all around the trunk, and it also causes some nice (sometimes extreme) basal swelling. That would be something to do now, in preparation for layering next year.
After seeing @AlainK's awesome results I think I'll apply a wire tourniquet to the tree this season, and wait until next spring to start the air layer. I'm doing this air layer to get a free shohin tree, as I don't have anything spectacular towards top of the tree. Hopefully by using a wire tourniquet I can get a good nebari started top.

Do I have to use copper wire for a tourniquet, or can aluminum wire be used? Right now I only have aluminum.

I ended up taking an unplanned but oh-so-amazing nap yesterday afternoon, so I didn't get to work on my tree. Oh well... with a 2-month old at home, I've learned to jump on nap opportunities as they arise!
 
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#10
Then why layer it. If it isn't spectacular why bother?
A couple of reasons:
  1. Try my first air-layer on something that I'm not super invested in
  2. My collection is still small enough that I'd love to have a shohin trident maple, even if it's just okay stock
I hope this doesn't come across like I don't value your advice! I'm just curious to try out an air-layer and expand my collection with a shohin trident. From what I understand, trident maples have really vigorous roots, so it seems like a pretty low-risk procedure.
 
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#11
On a rather big one, I first made a circular cut around the branches, then secured a copper wire around it, and left it for a season so the bark would produce a swelling (more cells, more chances for new roots).

@AlainK, can you use aluminum wire for a tourniquet like this, or is copper wire required? Everything I've read about tourniquet air-layering online says to use copper wire, but I haven't read a good reason why.
 

M. Frary

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#12
@AlainK, can you use aluminum wire for a tourniquet like this, or is copper wire required? Everything I've read about tourniquet air-layering online says to use copper wire, but I haven't read a good reason why.
You can probably use Barbados wire if you wanted. I don't think it matters.
 

AlainK

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#13
I used copper wire because it is stronger than aluminium for the same size, so it can be tighten without breaking where you twist it. But as Mike F. wrote, it doesn't really matter.

...and, er, what's "Barbados wire"?
 

M. Frary

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#16
Barbados wire is something altogether different.
Anthony, a member here (even though he said he was leaving) and his brother in law make it out of ball bearings out on the front porch of their hut.
They use it for monkey snares to catch their dinner.
 
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#17
Bringing this thread back from the grave!

I finally had a chance to put a tourniquet wire on my trident maple last weekend, to try and build up some root flair for an air layer next spring.

I think the reason everyone recommends copper is that aluminum wire tears very easily when you tighten the tourniquet. 1.5mm broke off as I was twisting it, so I had to use 3mm wire. Here are a few pics:

Making an incision
tourniquet-1.jpg

Wrapped around the incision with 1.5mm wire
tourniquet-2.jpg

1.5mm couldn't handle the tension!
tourniquet-3.jpg

Success, using 3mm wire
tourniquet-4.jpg
 

GrimLore

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#18
Barbados wire is something altogether different. Anthony, a member here (even though he said he was leaving) and his brother in law make it out of ball bearings out on the front porch of their hut.
They use it for monkey snares to catch their dinner.
I don't care who you are - that is damn funny :p

Grimmy
 

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