Growth rate many airlayers vs single plant

Khaiba

Sapling
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Hey guys,

Lately I've been quite obsessedšŸ„“ with propagating japanese maple cultivars via air layers and being as efficient as possible at it, i.e. maximizing growth/gains.
I keep wondering whether having many smaller plants of the same cultivar produces a generally higher amount of accumulated growth than having one larger specimen and letting it grow unimpeded before air layering larger portions of the tree.

A concrete example would be:
You want to create a forest of arakawa maples by air layering. You could either get one large arakawa maple or several smaller ones. Which do you choose?

Another scenario would be:
You only have one medium sized tree of the cultivar in the ground.
Would you
1. Air layer several branches/trunks of the tree right away until you are left with a bunch of smaller sized trees on their own roots and plant them into the ground as well.
Or
2. Let it grow as freely as possible and eventually air layer larger branches of the tree that you want to develop as bonsai.

Would love to hear your thoughts.

Cheers,
Khai
 

sorce

Nonsense Rascal
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I think your chances of having better roots and flare with a layer is much greater.

One and layer all day.

Sorce
 

Hack Yeah!

Omono
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I think you at least try one small layer in the initial years to ensure your method for layering works with that cultivar, then wait out some decent size material
 

leatherback

The Treedeemer
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Growth speeds up with size; Once growing, a big healthy maple can add an inch to branches in a season in a way a 2 year old plant just cannot.

I would aim for a big tree with several branches to layer off from. Develop those layers a little on the tree for one or two years then layer.

This small arakawa was bought as a 1 year old graft. Is has been growing for maybe 3 years now, and I have wired out the side-branches. Handle-bar sprouts I use for cuttings. I am now ground layering the plant off the rootstock. Eventually the side-branches will be layered off, as I find Arakawa hard to find, I am setting up a propagation line using this one tree, which eventually will become a bonsai in their own right. But I allow the side-branches now to grow to a decent size (Maybe 1 inch) before layering them off, and getting a new side-branch to develop into a pre-grown bonsai. This goes a lot faster if the tree would have been a 3 incher with 10ft branches itself!

20210403-R14A5196-82.jpg
 

Shibui

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Layering larger branches off landscape trees will get a thick trunk but it does have disadvantages. Branches on landscape trees tend to have very little taper and generally quite long internodes so bonsai layered from such trees tend to be coarse with less branches and more open ramification than is desirable.
I have looked at hundreds of branches with potential for layers. They seem to look great on the tree - good bends, plenty of branching, etc but by the time it has been moved to a pot of its own you generally become aware how less desirable the material really is. I don't think I have kept any layers from garden trees. None was good enough.
Even chopping and regrow the trunk or branches can take any years.

I get much better longer term results by starting with younger or smaller stock and managing the growth better for desirable bonsai characteristics. i can actually grow a better bonsai from seedling in less time than it takes to layer then correct all the undesirable features of the trunk and branching of that layer taken from a garden tree.

My vote will be to start with several smaller plants to get your layers.
 
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