Air layering: pot vs bag

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Northeast NJ
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#1
I have my eye on a thick branch of friend’s acer palmatum that I’d like to air layer in the spring. I’ve seen 2 distinct techniques used for to hold the medium for roots to grow.

A. Slip a pot or other container around the trunk, tie it up and fill with soil/sphagnum moss. I see Walter Pall is a big fan of this.

B. Wrap wet sphagnum moss around the trunk and wrap with plastic. So called “bag-n-sphag”.

Which do you prefer? And for method A, do you need drainage holes in the pot? Do you need to water regularly and/or fertilize?

I did some searching here on BN but couldn’t find a thread that compared the two techniques.
 
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Alameda, CA
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#3
Both work. For me it depends on how easily I can access the site. If I can't access it every day then I would use sphagnum and plastic wrap. It stays moist longer between waterings. If I can water with the rest of my trees then I'd use the pot method if practicle for the size and location of the air layer. It's easier to disentangle roots and repot when you separate from the mother tree.
 

petegreg

Masterpiece
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Slovakia
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#4
I usually take air-layers from my own trees, so I prefer A, use bonsai soil and water it with my trees when needed. No ferts.
 
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Hoschton, Ga 30548
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#5
Using A you can get better results with the roots and potting afterwards. B as mentioned above is sometimes easier to apply and keep up with. I do lots so have mostly done the B method, because its easier to apply and I don't have any aftercare to worry about. If I was focusing on one air layer and had the time to maintain, I would go with A.

When doing this many, B is a little easier. LOL
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Northeast NJ
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#10
Wow great feedback. It’s not in a location that I’ll have the chance to water every day, so it sounds like option B maybe be best for me. That being said, how often do you water with option B and how exactly do you water it?

Do you just open the plastic each time, water and rewrap or is there a trick I haven’t heard to water from the outside?
 
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CA
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#11
You can water using a syringe. I find that the easiest for bags. And better to water more often than not, I am always bummed to lose a great layer with lots of roots because I let it dry out. :(.
 
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Location
Hoschton, Ga 30548
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#12
Wow great feedback. It’s not in a location that I’ll have the chance to water every day, so it sounds like option B maybe be best for me. That being said, how often do you water with option B and how exactly do you water it?

Do you just open the plastic each time, water and rewrap or is there a trick I haven’t heard to water from the outside?
I don't water at all after I close it up. If you wrap tight with plastic wrap, you wont have moisture loss. I also wrap with some aluminum foil to reflect off the sun. Remember there are no roots for quite awhile. You are just trying to keep a dark moist environment for the inducing of roots. The limb is still getting supplied with water from the roots. The layer you cut off is the downward pipe not the upward water one. Bonsai Nut has a great write up in the Propagation forum.
 
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#13
Totally agree -- shouldn't be necessary and often isn't. But I've had cases where at the end of summer suddenly my layer is dry and I am sad. Worth checking regularly.
 
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Hoschton, Ga 30548
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#14
Totally agree -- shouldn't be necessary and often isn't. But I've had cases where at the end of summer suddenly my layer is dry and I am sad. Worth checking regularly.
I agree, I generally start checking after a month or so for roots, etc. I pull back the foil and see how it fills. If I can tell its pretty dry from moisture loss I will try and moisten back up. But I travel for two weeks at a time, and often can be lazy for the days I am back. So generally maybe get a check in every month or so.
 
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Alameda, CA
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#15
You can gently squeeze the bag and tell if the moss is still moist. You can tear a small hole in the top to water or use a syringe as mentioned above.
 
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Location
Birmingham, Alabama
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7B
#16
I've had the best results chopping the sphagnum moss and mixing it with perlite. It's far easier to disentangle roots than using just straight moss. And in my part of the world, I always wrap aluminum foil to reduce over heating.
 

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