Airlayering a juniper - Step by Step

RyanFrye

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This Juniper was purchased from a bonsai nursery about two years ago. This photo was taken shortly after I did the initial reduction of the canopy and lime sulfur applied to the shari. The growth at the right side of the base is not a part of the design and was later removed.
 

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RyanFrye

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This is what it looks like today. Obviously the straight portion of the trunk is useless and makes this material useless as a bonsai. I have decided to perform an airlayer.

I have successfully airlayerd a brazilian raintree, buttonwood, and various ficus plants with this method. I have never airlayered a juniper, so fail or succeed it will be here for others to learn from. Here goes!
 

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RyanFrye

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These are the tools I used: A sharp swiss army knife to make the cuts, sphagnum moss to rap the wound, rooting hormone to apply to the cut (with cue tips), zip lock bag to rap the moss in (scissors to cut it to the right size), used bonsai wire to secure the plastic bag to the trunk and tin foil to rap around the final product and help reflect the light.
 

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RyanFrye

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There is only one live vein on the trunk. You can see here that I have made the cut twice as wide as the vein.
 

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Once the cut has been made across the length of the vein I applied rooting hormone to the top portion where I expect the roots to originate.
 

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This is after applying the sphagnum moss and plastic wrap secured by the used bonsai wire.
 

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RyanFrye

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Here is the final product for now. Wrapped with tin - foil to deflect light.

If any - one has any suggestions or comments please feel free!
 

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Good demo and wise move with the air-layering. Generally speaking, a nice clean cut on the upper part tends to work better for me, but junipers air-layer easy, so there should be no problem.

This will be a nice little Shohin semi-cascade, keep us updated.



Will
 

RyanFrye

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Generally speaking, a nice clean cut on the upper part tends to work better for me [...].

Will

By this do you mean that you only make a clean cut across the vien with out stripping a portion of the bark off as I have done?

Thanks for the compliment too!
 
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No, I'm sorry, by a clean cut I meant one with no ragged edges, hanging chads, and such.....a good, sharp, line where the roots will form. The picture made it look like a few hanging pieces of bark were there covered in powder, this may not be the actual case.....

But as mentioned, this works better for me personally, but maybe I'm just a nut. ';) I wouldn't worry about it, Junipers root quite easily.




Will
 

davetree

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How did this tree get trained this way ? Did you make it twisty like this ? It will be a hella tree when the air layer takes.
 

RyanFrye

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No, I'm sorry, by a clean cut I meant one with no ragged edges, hanging chads, and such.....a good, sharp, line where the roots will form. The picture made it look like a few hanging pieces of bark were there covered in powder, this may not be the actual case.....

But as mentioned, this works better for me personally, but maybe I'm just a nut. ';) I wouldn't worry about it, Junipers root quite easily.

Will

I gotcha. Yes, the powder does make it hard to see the cut, but it is a nice clean one.
 

RyanFrye

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How did this tree get trained this way ? Did you make it twisty like this ? It will be a hella tree when the air layer takes.

Hi Davetree,

I didn't train it this way. The way you see it in the photo is pretty much the way I purchased it. All I have done to it is begin to define a branch structure.
 

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Excellent!

Fantastic thread! This is useful! There is so much knowledge represented on the forums, this is exactly the type of thing I have been wanting to see.


More! More!

:)
 
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These are the tools I used: A sharp swiss army knife to make the cuts, sphagnum moss to rap the wound, rooting hormone to apply to the cut (with cue tips), zip lock bag to rap the moss in (scissors to cut it to the right size), used bonsai wire to secure the plastic bag to the trunk and tin foil to rap around the final product and help reflect the light.

Ryan,
If you plan to do a lot of air layering and grafting, I highly recommend purchasing an inexpensive grafting knife like the one in the photo below.

image002.jpg


This knife is two metals forged together, one for strength, one for keen edge. If you keep this knife sharp, it will do a better job getting those clean cuts than your pocket knife no matter how well you sharpen it. It's only sharpened on one side, and at a very thin angle which cuts the plant material very cleanly without damage.

Good luck on your air layering, you certainly picked the best bit of this tree. Hope it works very well for you!

Chris
 
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Chris makes a good point above, the proper tools help a lot.

I personally use an utility knife for my grafting and layers, mainly because the blades are disposable, allowing me a sharp, clean blade whenever I want. You do however, get more blade surface area with a grafting knife, but that hasn't been a real issue for me.

I do a lot of air-layers, but not as much grafting, fortunately, I can collect sphagnum moss here in the wild, so it is always free and easy to obtain.

Below is an idea for you to keep in mind for future layers, I use a deli container, split down the sides. I find this easier than wrapping and it allows more room for roots.



Will
 

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JasonG

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Hi Ryan,

That is a very odd juniper.... I can't even begin to think of someone at a nursery doing something like this unless it was destine to be a bonsai all along. Very interesting. Thanks for posting this thread though. Good to see bonsai and not a pissing match! :)

Chris is right on the grafting knife. The key to grafting junipers and pines, I am talking grafting scions and such is a proper one sided knife like Chris shows above. I got mine from Jim Gremel, http://www.jimgremel.com/bonsaihomepage.html for something like $20. It will work perfect for cutting for airlayers but also for grafting. If you go the route of Will and use a utility knife, make sure to clean the blades before use. Every blade is coated with a very thin coat of oil.

Keep us posted on the progress of roots. Make sure you are letting the top grow freely and another thing that does help is spraying the folaige with a solution of water and fertalizer. Yes, it works.

Thanks for posting, Jason
 

RyanFrye

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Hi Ryan,

That is a very odd juniper.... I can't even begin to think of someone at a nursery doing something like this unless it was destine to be a bonsai all along. Very interesting. [...] Make sure you are letting the top grow freely and another thing that does help is spraying the folaige with a solution of water and fertalizer. Yes, it works.

Thanks for posting, Jason

Hi Jason,

I agree it must have been destined for bonsai and then forgotten about. I got it for $50 dollars. Thanks for the tip on letting it grow freely and doing a folier feed. I wouldn't have thought to do that.

Ryan
 
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One other thing, Ryan--are you right handed or left handed? The Japanese grafting knives are made each way, since they are one-sided and can't really be used upside-down.

Chris
 

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