Airlayer Question on a Trident Maple

Godschick

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I have been reading that there are different procedures and ways to set up an air layer. I’ve heard two main different set ups. One is the top and bottom are completely sealed off. Then the other way leaves openings at the top and the bottom for drainage. This second open way, is so water can be added. I was wondering if one gives better results than the other? Also, how long before they typically root? The particular one I did was a trident maple. I have seen others have results happen at three months and some up to a year, species and environment dependent I’m assuming? I’m just trying to figure out when I should open it up. Also if the way I did it was a good choice? I sealed it completely and soaked my sphagnum moss for 24 hours before using it.

I also tried my first thread graft. The pictures don’t show it, but I did wrap the clear plastic with aluminum foil. I’m just curious now as I’m waiting.

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Shibui

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There's no real difference in effectiveness between sealed and open layers. Sealed is usually better where you can't water regularly but both will work provided moisture is maintained.
How long to roots is like a piece of string. Depends on species, conditions, vigour of the tree, etc. Typically you'd expect roots from tridents in 4-8 weeks but no point getting worried about time. It will work when it is ready or it won't work at all. We would normally start a bit earlier in the growing season but should still be OK in CA.
Foil wrap is not really needed except maybe where you have direct, really intense sun on the plastic for most of the day. Roots do not care about light provided there's good moisture.

I note that you made the upper cut at right angles to the trunk. Consider what that will mean for the nebari and trunk angle after the new roots grow. Looks like this case the lower trunk will be vertical then will lean over to one side because of the bend in the existing trunk. For bonsai it is often better to make the upper cut at an angle so the new trunk can be planted at an angle.
You have also chosen to layer right below a bulge so the new trunk will start out with reverse taper right from the start. There's a chance you could grow that out in time with the right techniques but not what I'd choose to start with.

As this is obviously your first layer I'm guessing this is mainly for practice and to confirm the technique so some problems won't be too much of a worry.
 

Maiden69

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Great points, also for grafts I wouldn't use liquid sealer. That can get between the graft and the cambium preventing it to fuse together. I usually scrape a little of the "bark" of the graft and use a little "stick" to push it against the top of the hole. Then use HVAC putty to seal both sides.

 

Godschick

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Sealed is usually better
Thank you for all the great information! I’m assuming with sealed that the moss stays moist from condensation and the general water uptake from the tree itself?
For bonsai it is often better to make the upper cut at an angle so the new trunk can be planted at an angle.
Ah makes sense! I did not think that one out, And I figured the revere taper thing could be an issue with the bulge. 😬 And yes you are correct, this is my first time and totally for practice. The tree was a friends who was just going to trash it so I took it to practice/experiment on. I would have totally done it during a different season if that wasn’t the case. There’s a lot more trunk left there, so I was going to see the results, get you guys feedback and maybe try it again on another segment. It’s not the best for sure but as with trying all “firsts” I’m excited to see what happens. Thanks again
 

Godschick

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I wouldn't use liquid sealer. That can get between the graft and the cambium preventing it to fuse together. I usually scrape a little of the "bark" of the graft and use a little "stick" to push it against the top of the hole. Then use HVAC putty to seal both sides.
Oh cool thank you ! Good advice and I’ll definitely do this instead next time. I had no clue the sealer would do that. I did notice yesterday I got a little bit of new growth on the end of the grafted whip.
 

Maiden69

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You will notice if it took when the side where it exits will start to swell and thicken, and the backside will remain the same size.
 

dbonsaiw

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I also took my first airlayers this season. I used black plastic bags for the first batch and tied off the ends with rope. I found that a little clumsy and decided to use a small nursery pot for the next one. Probably did this in May and then actually forgot about them (I was meaning to water them). Remembered them and collected at the end of June. They all took and all looked basically the same. Frankly, I was surprised they didnt dry out.
 

Godschick

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Well congratulations that they all took! What trees did you do them on ? That's pretty exciting and I’m hoping my first one takes as well. I’ve heard of some drying out and I’m hoping that’s not the case with mine. Glad yours did not. I plan on doing some more for sure, especially now that I have a little feedback on how to do it a bit better.
 

dbonsaiw

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I took 3 from a Japanese maple and 1 from an Acer Rubrum. Was more about the sheer excitement of my 9 year old that airlayers are possible so we experimented. Let's see if they make it through the winter.
 

Godschick

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Sweet! That’s even more cool that your nine-year-old was involved. But seriously I kind of feel like you’re nine-year-old with the excitement and anticipation of this up being a possibility 😂 So where/in what did you plant them?
 

dbonsaiw

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I planted them in what I refer to as my house organic blend. It's not a scientific thing, just a hodge podge mixed together - Bonsai Jack universal soil mix, different barks and the "bonsai soil" that the trees I buy come in (pretty water retentive stuff). I have a 30X30 grow box that I dump leftover soil in. Buy a tree and repot, and I will dump the "bonsai" soil it comes in there. Tree dies and was planted in Bonsai Jack, it gets dumped in there. I've leveled off my soil levels as things were planted too deep and the excess got dumped in there.

It's come in pretty handy. Because my redwood roots are escaping from its container, for example, I planted that container in a larger container filled with the house blend as I didn't want to repot it now.

It's more water retentive than I'd like for most of trees, but it serves a purpose.
 

dbonsaiw

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Went to water them this morning and noticed they are backbudding.
 

Godschick

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Sweet!! I’m continually looking at mine for roots, but I suspect it will be the end of August or Sept before I even see anything. Share pictures if you feel so inclined. I’d love to see it.
 

Shima

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Another method which I prefer is to fit a container around the branch, fill with an open media with moss on top. The roots can extend out to form the beginng of the nebari instead of bunching up in plastic or foil. Also it's been found that layers are more successful with live rather than dried moss. This has been my experience as well as the likes of Walter Pall et al. Here's a small example on an azalea strictly to propagate it for the tiny flowers, and a ground layer progression to correct the nebari on a shohin pyracantha..
 

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Godschick

Mame
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Another method which I prefer is to fit a container around the branch, fill with an open media with moss on top. The roots can extend out to form the beginng of the nebari instead of bunching up in plastic or foil. Also it's been found that layers are more successful with live rather than dried moss. This has been my experience as well as the likes of Walter Pall et al. Here's a small example on an azalea strictly to propagate it for the tiny flowers, and a ground layer progression to correct the nebari on a shohin pyracantha..
I like this method. I’m assuming with it being more open and you’re having to water consistently. Do you feel this method will give you a better success rate than closed methods?
 

Maiden69

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Any updates on your airlayer/graft? I am going to do a few airlayers this spring to use possibly use in a forest composition.
 
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