Mark1994

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So I started three different air layers on my potted fruit trees in early October, I live in zone 7b. One on my Barbados cherry tree and two on my orange tree. I have successfully air layered other deciduous trees but have had no success with fruit trees. All three air layers were doing just fine the first month until one of the layers on the orange tree began to lose color, droop and leaves started drying out and curling. This layer was done on a slightly thinner branch than the other ones so I believed maybe the problem was that the branch was too young. It seems that where the branch was cut began to rot and turn black above and below the one inch cut. About a week ago both trees were brought inside to a bright corner in my sunroom for the winter. Now the only air layer that is on the orange tree and the one on the cherry tree are doing the exact same thing. Leaves curling and drying up. I removed the soil on the orange tree to see what was going on, no roots or callous have formed, it appears the branch is rotting. I Used sphagnum moss on all of the layers and made sure the moss wasn't too wet or too dry. I've read that the xylem may be clogged? what causes that? Both air layers were done on thicker branches than the first layer so I don't believe the size of the branch is the problem. Ive also seen much thinner orange tree branches successfully layered on youtube. If anyone can give me some good detailed information on how to save these layers or how to be successful on the next ones I try, it would be very much appreciated!
Thanks
 

sorce

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Welcome to Crazy!

Crazy no Pics!

Sounds like the branches are too small, not too small to layer, but too small to layer as a beginner.

Try without cutting em.

Maybe just a wire cinch.

Sorce
 

Pitoon

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How about updating your location so others can provide a better reply?

I typically air layer on current years growth. Depending on where you are located doing an air layer in October makes no real sense as winter could be right around the corner.
 
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It surprises me that citrus failed. They usually respond very eager to most hormones, especially rooting hormones. I was even able to start entirely new plants from callus, at home (but in a DIY lab).

Can you exclude insect damage? I have had wood lice gnawing away all forming callus, turning it orangey/brownish after a while and killing the air layers with the infections that followed. Other insects like nematodes (tiny glasslike worms) can screw them up real good too. They're hard to spot and they usually get into sphagnum when it's stored on the ground and in damp conditions.

I layer most plants just after spring when they've leafed out. I'm not sure what season you've been working in, but cherries and plums are rather slow to start doing anything. It can easily take two months or more for them to start rooting.
 

Mark1994

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Welcome to Crazy!

Crazy no Pics!

Sounds like the branches are too small, not too small to layer, but too small to layer as a beginner.

Try without cutting em.

Maybe just a wire cinch.

Sorce
Welcome to Crazy!

Crazy no Pics!

Sounds like the branches are too small, not too small to layer, but too small to layer as a beginner.

Try without cutting em.

Maybe just a wire cinch.

Sorce
Like I said, I’ve had plenty of success with deciduous air layers. So what would be the difference between air layering a smaller branch as a beginner and air layering a smaller branch as someone with more experience? I could try not cutting and girdle with a wire but I’ve seen others do exactly what I did with even smaller branches and have success
 

Mark1994

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How about updating your location so others can provide a better reply?

I typically air layer on current years growth. Depending on where you are located doing an air layer in October makes no real sense as winter could be right around the corner.
My location? I said I live in zone 7b, southern Maryland. But these are tropical fruit trees that need to be brought inside so I figured air layers could be done year round?
 

Mark1994

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It surprises me that citrus failed. They usually respond very eager to most hormones, especially rooting hormones. I was even able to start entirely new plants from callus, at home (but in a DIY lab).

Can you exclude insect damage? I have had wood lice gnawing away all forming callus, turning it orangey/brownish after a while and killing the air layers with the infections that followed. Other insects like nematodes (tiny glasslike worms) can screw them up real good too. They're hard to spot and they usually get into sphagnum when it's stored on the ground and in damp conditions.

I layer most plants just after spring when they've leafed out. I'm not sure what season you've been working in, but cherries and plums are rather slow to start doing anything. It can easily take two months or more for them to start rooting.
I used rooting hormone. I inspected the layers pretty thoroughly and saw no type of insect or insect damage. I started the layers in early October, the weather was still very warm then, and since have moved them indoors for the winter. They are tropical trees so they are always putting on new growth from what I’ve seen
 

sorce

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So what would be the difference between air layering a smaller branch as a beginner and air layering a smaller branch as someone with more experience?
Understanding the margin of error.

Sorce
 

Mark1994

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Understanding the margin of error.

Sorce
Okay so tell me what could have been the error.. I didn’t go too deep into the branch, but made sure the bark was removed and was scraped underneath. I used rooting hormone and used sphagnum moss. I made sure it wasn’t soaking wet but thoroughly damp. What else could be the problem?
 

sorce

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Okay so tell me what could have been the error.. I didn’t go too deep into the branch, but made sure the bark was removed and was scraped underneath. I used rooting hormone and used sphagnum moss. I made sure it wasn’t soaking wet but thoroughly damp. What else could be the problem?
It really depends on how small the branch...pics?

I made one on a pomegranate that was not one year thick. About ----- on Android.

Mighta got lucky, but that cambium is so thin, sneezing can ruin one.

If we're talking pencil or thinner, 90% depth problem, larger, and it's worth exploring different errors.

Sorce
 

Pitoon

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Okay so tell me what could have been the error.. I didn’t go too deep into the branch, but made sure the bark was removed and was scraped underneath. I used rooting hormone and used sphagnum moss. I made sure it wasn’t soaking wet but thoroughly damp. What else could be the problem?
The time of the year, I would have not even attempted to try an air layer past August. We are not in the south where a winter day is in the 70's with good sun.

Keep in mind air layers is not a guaranteed thing, sometimes they fail even if you did everything correctly.
 

Mark1994

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It really depends on how small the branch...pics?

I made one on a pomegranate that was not one year thick. About ----- on Android.

Mighta got lucky, but that cambium is so thin, sneezing can ruin one.

If we're talking pencil or thinner, 90% depth problem, larger, and it's worth exploring different errors.

Sorce
It really depends on how small the branch...pics?

I made one on a pomegranate that was not one year thick. About ----- on Android.

Mighta got lucky, but that cambium is so thin, sneezing can ruin one.

If we're talking pencil or thinner, 90% depth problem, larger, and it's worth exploring different errors.

Sorce

So the orange tree air layer is probably slightly thicker than a pencil and the cherry layer is probably slightly thinner. Both have older semi hard wood for bark and I’ve seen others have success with new green branches. Maybe I just should try on a thicker branch. I’m just worried it’ll have the same problem and I’ll lose a much larger limb on the tree
 

Mark1994

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The time of the year, I would have not even attempted to try an air layer past August. We are not in the south where a winter day is in the 70's with good sun.

Keep in mind air layers is not a guaranteed thing, sometimes they fail even if you did everything correctly.
Yeah I understand they don’t always work despite everything being done correctly. I just figured if they were done while the temps were still in the 70’s and then brought inside where the temperature is around 70, that the season wouldn’t make a difference considering they’re tropical trees and they’d be indoors where it’s warm
 

0soyoung

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Yeah I understand they don’t always work despite everything being done correctly. I just figured if they were done while the temps were still in the 70’s and then brought inside where the temperature is around 70, that the season wouldn’t make a difference considering they’re tropical trees and they’d be indoors where it’s warm
I cannot argue against this logic.

Let me ask if you found the tissue just below the girdle to be blackish/withered with the failure - did you?

This can happen and is a normal damage response. Life above is signaled by auxin in the bucket-brigade of polar auxin transport through the cambium. The girdle interrupts this flow and the cambium would die and signal the parenchyma to seal off the xylem. There is always some auxin in the phloem tubes which can be transported up to the cut and loaded into the cambium to prevent this from happening - it all depends upon there being enough phloem pressure to get it there. With the foliage being less productive this time of year, the phloem pressure could be down and therein may be the reason for your 'October-layers' failing.
Never mind if the bark below the girdle is all nice healthy green
 

Cajunrider

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Okay so tell me what could have been the error.. I didn’t go too deep into the branch, but made sure the bark was removed and was scraped underneath. I used rooting hormone and used sphagnum moss. I made sure it wasn’t soaking wet but thoroughly damp. What else could be the problem?
For citrus and pomegranate branches below 1/2" in diameter I have much better luck with propagating them as cutting than air layer. I discover that by the time I scrape the cambium layer clean, there isn't enough left to bring nutrients and water to the air layer. The margin of error between not scraping enough and scraping too much is too small for me. Branches above 1/2" are dead easy to air layer. I have done them as big as 4" without any issue. Down here in Louisiana zone 9, air layer only takes 6-8 weeks, even for the huge branches.

For pomegranate I really recommend propagating it from cuttings for up to 5/8". They are dead easy to propagate. Just sticking a cutting into a pot of potting soil is good enough for me.
 
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Mark1994

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I cannot argue against this logic.

Let me ask if you found the tissue just below the girdle to be blackish/withered with the failure - did you?

This can happen and is a normal damage response. Life above is signaled by auxin in the bucket-brigade of polar auxin transport through the cambium. The girdle interrupts this flow and the cambium would die and signal the parenchyma to seal off the xylem. There is always some auxin in the phloem tubes which can be transported up to the cut and loaded into the cambium to prevent this from happening - it all depends upon there being enough phloem pressure to get it there. With the foliage being less productive this time of year, the phloem pressure could be down and therein may be the reason for your 'October-layers' failing.
Never mind if the bark below the girdle is all nice healthy green
Yes just below the girdle it was blackish. I thought possibly because of rot but that makes sense. If the blackish color has appeared around the cut, is there any hope for the air layer forming roots and surviving?
 

Mark1994

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For citrus and pomegranate branches below 1/2" in diameter I have much better luck with propagating them as cutting than air layer. I discover that by the time I scrape the cambium layer clean, there isn't enough left to bring nutrients and water to the air layer. The margin of error between not scraping enough and scraping too much is too small for me. Branches above 1/2" are dead easy to air layer. I have done them as big as 4" without any issue. Down here in Louisiana zone 9, air layer only takes 6-8 weeks, even for the huge branches.

For pomegranate I really recommend propagating it from cuttings for up to 5/8". They are dead easy to propagate. Just sticking a cutting into a pot of potting soil is good enough for me.
Yeah the branch I attempted to air layer is 1/4” in diameter. I’m guessing I removed too much, not allowing nurtrients to reach the branch. Could I remove the branch still and attempt to root it as a cutting or should I leave it alone until I’m sure it’s dead and the air layer failed?
 

0soyoung

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For citrus and pomegranate branches below 1/2" in diameter I have much better luck with propagating them as cutting than air layer. I discover that by the time I scrape the cambium layer clean, there isn't enough left to bring nutrients and water to the air layer. The margin of error between not scraping enough and scraping too much is too small for me. Branches above 1/2" are dead easy to air layer. I have done them as big as 4" without any issue. Down here in Louisiana zone 9, air layer only takes 6-8 weeks, even for the huge branches.
The cambium should be thickest around the time of the summer solstice. If one were to cut the girdle then, the bark will easily lift off. One generally doesn't do this with temperate trees just because there isn't enough season left to complete the layer, but that is pretty much irrelevant with tropicals. Then all you need to do is leave the girdle uncovered, exposed to open air for a day or two. This will kill all the residual xylem initials on the exposed wood with no effort on your part.

IOW, the easiest routine is to cut the girdle and walk away. Come back on another day to bag it up.
 

0soyoung

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Yes just below the girdle it was blackish. I thought possibly because of rot but that makes sense. If the blackish color has appeared around the cut, is there any hope for the air layer forming roots and surviving?
None. It is literally a dead end.

The best you can do to salvage something from it is to try to root the cutting of the tip, taken above the lowest green leaf (above the girdle).
 

cmeg1

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Heavy nitrates from fertilizer can also inhibit rooting.
So can heavy nitrogen assimilation during resulting growth.
It can take 20-30% of photosynthetic energy just to assimilate nitrogen.
I would say best to let first flush ease out than do only barely adequete nitrogen ,try to keep a 1:1 ratio of nitrogen to potassium and let tree stall and make energy on its own through photosynthesis and it will make rooting harmones by themselves .......befor proceeding with any propogation.
The tree could have low brix from over assimilation of nitrogen.
Prepare tree (mother plant) with seaweed,calcium,the list can go on and on really.....
A whole nother’ lesson......
I kind of get into this,I apologize:oops:
 

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