Airlayering Trident maples

Zappa

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Anyone know when the best time to start this is?

The past few years I have tried it my specimens have died :(
 

darrellw

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Hi Zappa,

Trident should be one of the easiest trees to layer, so maybe it would help if you told us what you have tried. Generally you would want to do this as the tree is about to start rapid growth in the spring, but trident are so vigorous that you have a pretty wide window!

-Darrell
 

Zappa

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First Ive been useing a pair of pliers to strip all of the bark down to the brown wood. Then I've been using .01% rooting hormone(dust kind not liquid). Next Ive been using the dark brown sphagnum moss(not the stringy kind) I soak it in water then I apply it to the tree. Ive tried using both a modified pot and plastic wrap to keep it in place(I always make sure I have water access). So far the distal end of my airlayer always dies within a week or two. Ive been finding nests of spiders in my sphagnum...

How long does it usually b4 I should expect to start seeing roots?

Will the distal end alway lose all of it's leaves?

How/when will I know that my attempt has failed?

What are some danger signs/how can they be corrected?

thanks
 

Zappa

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Tridents are starting to leaf out here....should I attempt layering before the leaves have hardended? Ist it possible/advisable to start on a branch while it is in the transition between bud/leaf?
 
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Tridents are starting to leaf out here....should I attempt layering before the leaves have hardended? Ist it possible/advisable to start on a branch while it is in the transition between bud/leaf?
I think the consensus has been that air layering is best when the leaves have hardened. That drives root formation where you want it.

I would suggest removing more wood than just the cambium layer, depending on the size of the limb you are layering. Use long-fibered sphagnum, not the brown kind, it's probably responsible for a good deal of your difficulty.

So remove as much wood as you can, up to half inch deep if the trunk warrants it, then clean the base of the upper cut with a razor blade or grafting knife, sharper than sharp. You can use root hormone or not, tridents root very easily. Take a piece of saran wrap around the lower part below the cut, put a loop of wire around it to hold it in place, wrap the cut with soaked sphagnum, not peat, close your saran wrap and take your wire up and around to hold the plastic in place. Leave it a little loose at the top so that you can water the sphagnum when you water.

Some advise poking small slits in the bottom to let excess moisture out, others do not. You should see fat white roots in fairly short order.

Others might want to add their tricks of the trade or contradict me completely, but this is tried-and-true.
 

bneff

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I think there was an article in Bonsai Today within the last couple of years about a bonsai artist in Japan who started his airlayers on beech (I think) trees in very early spring before the trees leafed out. Since I'm at work & don't have that issue handy I can't confirm this, but I think I'm remembering right. Has anyone tryed this timing?

I haven't had much luck with layering the past few years so I'm going try Chris's suggestion of going deeper. I attempted a 3 inch branch on a chinese elm last year that never took. The pot, soil & plastic are still on the tree & I checked it last week and it's still alive. I'll be cutting the ring deeper (it's less than a 1/4 inch now), rehormone it and try again.

Bill
 
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Bill,
Just try to remember that there could be variances depending on the characteristics of the trees. Chinese elm was actually worked in a thread here at bonsainut. It's a good one to read.

The technique on a beech tree was to cut a groove and drive a wire into it. That's what I did when I layered my Siberian elm and it worked quite well. But I think the keys are blocking the callous from growing back over the cut and keeping the layer evenly moist, not letting it dry out.
 

darrellw

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Hi Zappa,

I'm a little concerned that the top seems to die so fast on you, that should not be happening. When you say you strip down to "brown wood", do you mean the heartwood?

I've had good luck tying a wad of sphagnum around the layer area, then putting a plastic pot around it, with well draining soil. That way you can water it well, but not worry about getting too wet.

Another thing that might be interesting to try, especially with a trident, would be to just girdle with thick aluminum wire. That works well for ground layering, but might be too slow for some species as an air layer (just because it would take special care for a long time).

-Darrell
 

darrellw

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yeah, I guess you would call it the heart wood
Ah, OK. I think that is the problem, if you are truly cutting down to the heartwood. Someone more familiar with the technical terms might explain it better, but the reason layering works is that water and nutrients go up in the "sapwood", and back down in the layers just under the bark. So you remove the path down to the roots, and the tree makes new roots there, but is still "fed" from the original roots. If you remove all of the sapwood, there is no path from the roots to keep the top alive, the heartwood is no longer a transport mechanism (or a very poor one).

Edit: Brent has a good write with all the real, scientific terms (but still very understandable): http://www.evergreengardenworks.com/airlayer.htm

The usual problem for air layering not working is not going deep enough, or not making a wide enough girdle. Then the tree just heals over the injury, and doesn't grow any root. But that doesn't cause the top to die.
 
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Here is another option that has worked for me on Larches, Cedar, Malus, Mulberry,and Japanese maples....


First off, your cut should be at least as wide as the trunk is thick. Use a utility knife and cut into the wood as deeply as you can with one steady cut around the trunk and then repeat below it at at least the same distance as the thickness of the trunk. In example your cuts would be at least two inches apart on a trunk that is two inches wide.

Once your two cuts are made use the blade of the utility knife to scrape the bark off, first down to the bottom cut and then up to the top cut, you will have just hard wood below this cut. The top and bottom of this cut now should be perfect, no ragged edges, and straight as can be.

Now take a hand wipe, the kind they give you with your buffalo wings with alcohol in it, and wipe the cut, this kills any remaining cells (Avoid the top cut). Wait for a few minutes...

Apply your rooting hormone to the top cut and then follow the above advice for plastic or use a plastic nursery pot....cut down the side of it and halfway across the bottom, making a small circle in the center of the bottom, big enough to fit around the trunk. Now take wire and form a base about and inch or so under the bottom cut, you can use a clamp, clothes pins, or a lower branch if it is position right.....put the pot around the tree use tape to tape the cut edge together and fill with sphagnum moss, a good soil mix, or a combination of the two.....place plastic wrap over the top after watering and this can be removed to check moisture. If you have access to deli containers, I have found these work great and the lid can be cut and place on the container as well.


In the pictures below you can see results of this method used on a Larch.



Will
 

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Zappa

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so straight clean cuts.....dough....I read an article somewhere that told me to make jagged cuts to premote a less homogenious root distribution. Which, the article claimed, premotes a more natural look. I feel this is the cause of my past failures....because I have been doing everything else the same as you guys...I will do the clean cut this year. Thanks for the help!
 
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The jagged cut is done because it creates more surface area for the roots to form, however even when doing this the cuts have to be clean, sharp, with no ragged edges.


Note: I only cut down to the sapwood, not farther. The sapwood should remain to keep the tree above the cut alive, without this the upper part will die. I remove to the cambium only, making sure it is all removed.


Will
 
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Zappa

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In the article, they were using a tool that looked like a wood file to take all of the bark down to the sapwood :(
 

FOX7591

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hi i have learned that it is a good time to do an air layer when the buds are breaking

also at a class i learned that a good way to apply hormone is to mix the powder hormone and water to make a paste, about the same thickness of toothpaste and then just put that on the part u want to layer, then use a free draining soil and sphagnum moss around the airlayer. and to hold all of the soil around the layer use a black bag because the black bag attracts the light and the heat helps with the roots to grow, i guess its the same idea as a heating bed type of thing.
 

Zappa

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i guess its the same idea as a heating bed type of thing.


Ahh that's why I have a hard time getting up in the morning....Im held back by nocturnal, overstimulated, root growth ;)



j/k


well the buds have started to break...I will try layering some in black bags this weekend!
 
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