Help with my JM failed air layer

The Warm Canuck

Yamadori
Messages
94
Reaction score
33
Location
Belleville, Ontario, Canada
USDA Zone
6
I bought this JM with the intensions of using it as a propagator mother, as it has a bad graph at the bottom of the trunk. It was a reasonable price in comparison to the crazy prices nurseries around here charge for JMs, even small stock. I applied two air layers, one in the middle of the tree, (where you can see the callus), that wasn't successful, and another one of a shoot of the bottom of the trunk, that was a success.

I shouldn't have air layered the tree as it wasn't super healthy, it had been attacked by moths in the spring and the soil is horrible, it holds way too much moisture.

The tree is about 5 feet tall and it's a pain to move around so I really want it shorter, I'd really like to just chop it in half.

So, these are the things I want to do but don't know what the best course of action is.

Basically, can I cut off the top part of this tree now and also repot it in the spring? I know people have different opinions of cutting a maple at this time of year but I'm reading "Modern Bonsai Practice" and I know @Walter Pall , apparently cuts back trees until the end of December, so how bad can it be? But at the same time I wonder if, it's too much on a tree that had a stressful season last year, and than with a repot, it might be too much?
img.jpgimg2.jpg
 

River's Edge

Masterpiece
Messages
4,095
Reaction score
10,316
Location
Vancouver Island, British Columbia
USDA Zone
8b
Experienced and well trained individuals often stretch the windows for " when to do what". They have the experience and training so they know what to check for first, what to expect and what aftercare will aid the results.

There are a number of observations that can be made in this situation. They are all being made to point out some variables, not intended in a negative vein.

1. You do not mention when the air layer was first attempted. It is possible that there are enough reserves in the top portion that it could still leaf out and produce some roots this coming spring. Assuming you have not dessicated the callus too much and the top is not dead yet. ( if cambium still green this may be an option) Would need to reapply moss and covering of course.
2. If the top is dead, then cutting it off and sealing the cut will not do any further damage to the lower portion. In fact it may prevent further dieback and infection.
3. Valuable lesson learned, work on healthy trees and take the time to improve their health before attempting work such as grafting, air layering, major repotting.
4. When first starting out follow the guidelines fo appropriate timing and the amount of work in a season. Do not be guided by what a professional is capable of doing. Invariably they are working with vigorous healthy stock and the advantages of additional training and resources.
5. Think of it this way, Most Bonsai techniques weaken the tree to gain a response. One needs to understand how much stress the tree can take before weakening becomes killing. Experience is very valuable in this sense. For example you chose to do an airliner directly above a dead portion on the trunk, not the best choice.
6. So if I take your description, the tree was weak, you weakened it further, part has likely died already. Therefore recovery is a better choice than repotting! You can always improve your watering skills and take steps to improve drainage without a major repot and cutting a lot of roots.
7. in the spring you can remove some of the bad soil replace with pumice, cut away dead roots and comb out some healthy but not cut. Re pot in free draining soil and give the tree a year or two to recover and gain health. ( a full repot with major root work is not the only way to go) In fact the soil conditions may be good enough for a solid recovery with no action taken other than judicious watering.
 

Shibui

Imperial Masterpiece
Messages
5,081
Reaction score
9,655
Location
Yackandandah, Australia
USDA Zone
9?
Down here JM can bleed badly if chopped later in winter but up to mid winter is usually OK. A little weeping from the cut won't hurt.
Even better is root prune and chop at the same time. It seems that cutting roots prevents sap flow bleeding from cuts at the top.
Root prune and chop at the same time does not hurt maples in my experience.
Repot into better soil is definitely advised if the current soil is causing problems. Even a stressed tree will be better off in good soil. Leaving in the current problem soil will only make things worse next year.

In any case, as pointed out by @River's Edge, the top can be cut off any time as it is likely dead now so will not bleed or cause any further stress.
 

The Warm Canuck

Yamadori
Messages
94
Reaction score
33
Location
Belleville, Ontario, Canada
USDA Zone
6
Experienced and well trained individuals often stretch the windows for " when to do what". They have the experience and training so they know what to check for first, what to expect and what aftercare will aid the results.

There are a number of observations that can be made in this situation. They are all being made to point out some variables, not intended in a negative vein.

1. You do not mention when the air layer was first attempted. It is possible that there are enough reserves in the top portion that it could still leaf out and produce some roots this coming spring. Assuming you have not dessicated the callus too much and the top is not dead yet. ( if cambium still green this may be an option) Would need to reapply moss and covering of course.
2. If the top is dead, then cutting it off and sealing the cut will not do any further damage to the lower portion. In fact it may prevent further dieback and infection.
3. Valuable lesson learned, work on healthy trees and take the time to improve their health before attempting work such as grafting, air layering, major repotting.
4. When first starting out follow the guidelines fo appropriate timing and the amount of work in a season. Do not be guided by what a professional is capable of doing. Invariably they are working with vigorous healthy stock and the advantages of additional training and resources.
5. Think of it this way, Most Bonsai techniques weaken the tree to gain a response. One needs to understand how much stress the tree can take before weakening becomes killing. Experience is very valuable in this sense. For example you chose to do an airliner directly above a dead portion on the trunk, not the best choice.
6. So if I take your description, the tree was weak, you weakened it further, part has likely died already. Therefore recovery is a better choice than repotting! You can always improve your watering skills and take steps to improve drainage without a major repot and cutting a lot of roots.
7. in the spring you can remove some of the bad soil replace with pumice, cut away dead roots and comb out some healthy but not cut. Re pot in free draining soil and give the tree a year or two to recover and gain health. ( a full repot with major root work is not the only way to go) In fact the soil conditions may be good enough for a solid recovery with no action taken other than judicious watering.
Thank you for your detailed post. Yes, there is lots of mistakes I am making as a noob, but this is how i've learnt all my hard lesson in life haha.

Yes, instead of a full repot I will deffinetly take your advise and just split pot, removing as much of the bad soil as possible. I did just end up chopping the top of the tree off as it wasn't looking good. After separation, the bark was still green, so it probably would have made it, but oh well. Like I said before, it was way too tall anyways.

I moved from the Island 5 years ago, I used to live in Comox. I would have loved to have come and visit you sometime.
 

River's Edge

Masterpiece
Messages
4,095
Reaction score
10,316
Location
Vancouver Island, British Columbia
USDA Zone
8b
Thank you for your detailed post. Yes, there is lots of mistakes I am making as a noob, but this is how i've learnt all my hard lesson in life haha.

Yes, instead of a full repot I will deffinetly take your advise and just split pot, removing as much of the bad soil as possible. I did just end up chopping the top of the tree off as it wasn't looking good. After separation, the bark was still green, so it probably would have made it, but oh well. Like I said before, it was way too tall anyways.

I moved from the Island 5 years ago, I used to live in Comox. I would have loved to have come and visit you sometime.
Courtenay/ Comox is a beautiful area that is changing quickly. There are a few club members in that neck of the woods and some talented nursery growers as well. Snow yesterday and today on the Island, just to remind us that winter can show up occasionally.
Hope Ontario is treating you well until you return.
 
Thread starter Similar threads Forum Replies Date
Lazylightningny Failed Air Layers- Help General Discussion 25
C BRT HELP? New to Bonsai 0
D Tree Identification Help General Discussion 2
Antony82 Help me identify these Elms. New to Bonsai 0
ForThemWhatCare Year 2 Experiment Help Request New to Bonsai 16

Similar threads

Top Bottom