Air layering witches broom Scots pine/Picea abies?

Sthlmbonsai

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About a week ago I found a beautiful healthy witches broom on a Scots pine (pines sylvestris). Today I went back and to my surprise I found a witches broom on a picea abies. These are both on skinny branches on a height I don’t have to climb. Really want to air layer these. Does anyone have any experience with air layering witches broom conifer. Would love to hear some information if it’s out there’s anyone with experience?31F80F08-E5F4-48BD-BA2E-FE96AE6C9754.pngF660FCAF-8C2B-498E-90D7-5CD1A779238F.jpegC1DD898D-059C-41EC-98CC-E76DC302DDAC.jpegF660FCAF-8C2B-498E-90D7-5CD1A779238F.jpegsoE602571D-68F3-4C4F-89C4-5597D989413A.jpegE6EB91D6-8910-4031-AABA-3B54B915BF2E.jpeg
 
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Witches brooms are induced by high cytokinin levels, and those high levels can inhibit rooting. Spruce and pines are notoriously hard to air layer, so I think you'll have double the challenge.
I wouldn't get my hopes up if I were you, but it's worth a shot!
 

Leo in N E Illinois

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I agree with @Wires_Guy_wires
You are very, very unlikely to have success with air layering either of these witches brooms. AND if you try to air layer these 2 brooms, the end result will be the eventual death of the brooms.

Best would be to collect scions, wrap the scions with damp long fiber sphagnum moss, wrap in plastic, and store the scions in your refrigerator. You can safely store the scions for several weeks this way, since it is still winter in Sweden. Obtain seedling Pinus sylvestris and Picea abies to use as understock. The seedlings should have trunks larger diameter than the scion cuttings you took. Once you have the seedlings collected, you can graft the witches brooms low on the trunks of the understock. Best is if you could graft into the root zone of the understock, this is a little tricky if you have never done grafting, try to graft within one inch of the soil line on the understock, that will give you a tree that may be useful for bonsai in time. This is the only "proven method" to bring witches brooms into cultivation.

If you have never done any grafting, seek out a local bonsai practitioner or a fruit tree grower who has done it before to have them show you how in person. I took a 4 hour class to learn grafting, and there is much you need to see in person, such as how to hold your knife, how to prepare the scion, and so forth, that just do not translate to the written word. In the USA we have a group called the "Fruit Explorers" that is dedicated to preserving heirloom cultivars of apples and other culinary fruit trees, These people are all hobbyists, and very dedicated to preservation of fruit varieties, which is usually done by grafting. If Sweden has a similar group likely there will be someone willing to demonstrate grafting for you at no charge. Your local agriculture university will have people who are expert at grafting also, they may or may not charge for the help.
 

Leo in N E Illinois

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Scions, stored as above, if kept dormant in a refrigerator may actually be good for as much as 6 months. So you do have time to gather understock and take a class.

Key to success, grafting works best if the understock is active and growing, and the scion is still dormant. So it is actually better to collect and store dormant scions now, than returning in spring or early summer to collect fresh but actively growing scions. Actively growing scions have a much lower success rate. Dormant scions tend to have a high success rate.

Grafting is best done in 2 seasons, late winter collection of scions, with grafting happening in early spring as the understock "wakes up", so that you have fully dormant scions, being grafted onto actively growing understock.

Second season for grafting is late summer, early autumn. A few weeks before the autumnal equinox. Here fresh scions are collected, and grafted onto understock. Both the scions and the understock are slowing growth, getting ready for winter, but they are still active enough that healing of the wounds and knitting of the scion to the understock can begin right away. Freshly grafted material will have to be protected from extreme cold the first winter. Temperatures below 0 C, below freezing, will cause sap to freeze and potentially the expanding ice crystals will cause separation of the scion from the understock. Winter storage will have to be between 0 C to 4 C for the entire winter. If you can keep temperatures below 4 C, you will not need light. If temperatures will vary into higher temperatures an cool greenhouse would work also. Here good light is needed to keep the trees healthy.
 

Pitoon

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I would take some scions to graft. Leave the broom as is, if your grafts fail you will always can new scions available to harvest to retry. What do you plan to name these new cultivars?
 

Leo in N E Illinois

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Naming a cultivar, you definitely should give them a unique name. But don't get too excited about registering the cultivars. First get some grafts to take. It will take about 10 years to fully evaluate the cultivar, and verify that it is stable. Many witches brooms revert back to normal growth. It is all a matter of just which epigenetic changes occured to create the broom. If the witches brooms seems stable, say at the 5 year mark, start working on the formal written description of what makes the broom unique. Record observations about growth rate, foliage size and color, bark traits and any other unique features. To register the cultivar contact the RHS at the Kew Botanic garden, Kew, London, UK. They will have the forms, and whether or not you need to create a herbarium specimen, and of course, charge you a fee for the privilege of registering the cultivar.
 
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Why even go as far as collecting from the wild though?
There is a pinus sylvestris 'norsk typ' cultivar. I have two of those, they bud on old wood easily and they are on their own roots. They have a natural witch broom, even without pruning.
They also don't have the issue of insane branch thickening like the waterii cultivar; it too throws buds everywhere, but the shoots grow to 4-5mm thickness within a year, even on 20cm trees. Way out of proportion.
 

Sthlmbonsai

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I agree with @Wires_Guy_wires
You are very, very unlikely to have success with air layering either of these witches brooms. AND if you try to air layer these 2 brooms, the end result will be the eventual death of the brooms.

Best would be to collect scions, wrap the scions with damp long fiber sphagnum moss, wrap in plastic, and store the scions in your refrigerator. You can safely store the scions for several weeks this way, since it is still winter in Sweden. Obtain seedling Pinus sylvestris and Picea abies to use as understock. The seedlings should have trunks larger diameter than the scion cuttings you took. Once you have the seedlings collected, you can graft the witches brooms low on the trunks of the understock. Best is if you could graft into the root zone of the understock, this is a little tricky if you have never done grafting, try to graft within one inch of the soil line on the understock, that will give you a tree that may be useful for bonsai in time. This is the only "proven method" to bring witches brooms into cultivation.

If you have never done any grafting, seek out a local bonsai practitioner or a fruit tree grower who has done it before to have them show you how in person. I took a 4 hour class to learn grafting, and there is much you need to see in person, such as how to hold your knife, how to prepare the scion, and so forth, that just do not translate to the written word. In the USA we have a group called the "Fruit Explorers" that is dedicated to preserving heirloom cultivars of apples and other culinary fruit trees, These people are all hobbyists, and very dedicated to preservation of fruit varieties, which is usually done by grafting. If Sweden has a similar group likely there will be someone willing to demonstrate grafting for you at no charge. Your local agriculture university will have people who are expert at grafting also, they may or may not charge for the help.
Thanks, I’ll try the grafting method instead of air layering. I already have lots of under stock of both species so should be good to go once the right time of spring arrives. Will keep ya posted with the progress.
Again, thanks for taking the time! Excited to go out and get scions.
 

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