Layer Separation=Major Pruning?

Gandalph

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Just trying to collect a little information.

When one separates an air layering, is it best to give the branches and leaves a hard pruning before potting it up?

The tree in particular this time, would be a Bloodgood Jap Maple, however would appreciate thoughts on any other species as well.

Thanks in advance
 

Smoke

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It's probably best to seperate and pot and then leave it alone for a year to gain strength before any major pruning. I have no idea why you did a layer but for me when I go to the work of layering off a tree it is because it already has a good trunk movement and branch structure. A tree that is better because it was layered rather than staying on a so so tree....if that makes sense. So waiting a year should be a no brainer.
 

Brian Van Fleet

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No pruning top or bottom when separating an air-layer. Simply remove it, remove the plastic bag or whatever you used to capture new roots, and plant it straight away into some porous soil, and tie it in so it can't move. Don't try to do any root work at this time; I've lost air-layers that were very good because I messed around with the roots at separation trying to gain some time.

If you separate it in the next few weeks, plant it so it can grow this year and all of next year before you do anything else to it. By 2012 you should have a very strong new tree that is ready for training.

I have a great layer going on an arakawa Japanese Maple that's getting close. I'll try to take some photos of the process, but I'm waiting until the heat breaks before I separate it.
 

Gandalph

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No pruning top or bottom when separating an air-layer. Simply remove it, remove the plastic bag or whatever you used to capture new roots, and plant it straight away into some porous soil, and tie it in so it can't move. Don't try to do any root work at this time; I've lost air-layers that were very good because I messed around with the roots at separation trying to gain some time.

If you separate it in the next few weeks, plant it so it can grow this year and all of next year before you do anything else to it. By 2012 you should have a very strong new tree that is ready for training.

I have a great layer going on an arakawa Japanese Maple that's getting close. I'll try to take some photos of the process, but I'm waiting until the heat breaks before I separate it.

I appreciate the info Brian.

The heat finally broke here in the Greater St. Louis area, so I'm thinking of separating it today or sometime during the coming week. Will definitely place it in shade and wire it in.

I'm looking forward to the pictures, and will add some of mine when I get the time.
 

Dav4

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Why are you seperating the layer now? Sure, the heat from last week is gone, but you've still got the heat of mid July through August to come. I've always waited until September to seperate my layers- the benefits are a more substantial root system and less summer heat to stress the newly seperated tree. The roots will continue to grow well into the fall, as well. I think it's a safer time to do it- my 2 cents

Dave
 

Bonsai Nut

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Wait until it is cooler. If you want, add more moss/soil to the root bundle to allow more rooting. Once you separate the air-layer it is all or nothing - best to be ultra conservative and wait until you are 100% certain that nothing can go wrong.
 

digger714

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Nut, are you saying to take the plastic off of a layer, add more moss, and another bag, and let go until, say the first of fall, then seperate it? Ive got one going since march this year, and it has great roots inside. I would probably leave it alone, but would like to know if it is possible.
 

Gandalph

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So, it sounds like the best thing to do is wait until the weather cools a bit before separation.
I would also like to know should I remove the plastic, add more sphagnum, and re-wrap, or simply add more sphagnum to the already wrapped layer.

Here are a couple pictures
Thanks



 

Brian Van Fleet

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Hard to see through the plastic, but don't be in a hurry to separate this; waiting until the heat breaks for me is September; not blistering hot anymore, but still plenty of warm weather to pump up the new roots. I like Greg's comment...it's all or nothing when you make that cut! ...And...don't mess with it. Don't worry about adding moss, opening the bag or anything. ANY disturbance can tank it for you.
 
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Brian Van Fleet

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Here, shot a few in the dark, you can see the roots starting to form inside the bag; but it still has a ways to go.
 

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M.B.

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Wait until it is cooler. If you want, add more moss/soil to the root bundle to allow more rooting. Once you separate the air-layer it is all or nothing - best to be ultra conservative and wait until you are 100% certain that nothing can go wrong.

I've been wondering about layer separation and why wouldn't you wait until the layer is going dormant or completely dormant? You wouldn't have to worry wether it had enough root to support the leaf canopy until spring. This is, of course, if you live in a fairly mild winter climate like I do. You could even put it on a seedling warming mat to keep the roots warm. Why wouldn't this work?
Mary B.
 

rockm

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In the eastern part of the US, waiting until the tree goes dormant means waiting until after two or three freezes. Those freezes (or even frost) will kill exposed roots like those in the plastic wrapping.

A seedling warming mat won't really work, as you'd be working at cross purposes with dormancy. Dormant roots do not grow. Warmth may not stop dormancy, as the dormancy process is not triggered by temperature, but by day length.
 

M.B.

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So Rockm, what if you put the potted up layer into a cold frame or some shelter to keep it from freezing? I live in California where we rarely get even light frost before November and deep heavy frost (if we even get any) in December or January. We've had some years I can count the frost nights on one hand. Some trees/bushes just barely drop their leaves and they start setting buds immediately, depending on the weather. Lots of cold fog and rain and they stay dormant longer. Lots of light rains with sunshine afterwards and they are popping in February.
You state dormant roots do not grow but most nursery people around here recommend fall planting for trees and shrubs because the roots continue to grow and establish even in the winter. Of course this is planting in the ground, but is it that different in a pot that is sitting on the ground?
I have had the best survival rate of hard wood cuttings (which is much like an air layer) during the winter by keeping them in the house or a tack room with two windows. It's not a big deal if they break dormancy and leaf out (which they usually do in the house) since it's much like a greenhouse, though maybe not as bright. My biggest problem has been fungus from not enough air circulation.
Mary B.
 
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rockm

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Well, yeah, if you have a cold frame that stays frost free, you're set.:D
 

M.B.

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Hmm, I guess we are back to the usual answer to so many bonsai questions, "It depends".
Depends where you live, depends on your weather.
Mary B.
 

Brian Van Fleet

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Separation Anxiety...

So I separated the layer a week ago or so, and here are a couple photos. Shortly after separating, most of the leaves turned orange, and dropped. The color of the rest are ok, and the thing still looks very good overall. It's in the shade protected now and we'll see how things look in the spring. It should be fine...
 

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Brian Van Fleet

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I should add that I did not disturb the new root ball in the planting process, it was basically "heeled in" to the soil as seen in the first photo. It was wired into the pot, both from the drainage holes in the bottom, and with wires at the top that hold it very still. I'll remove the top set next spring so they can't girdle the trunk.

The plan for this one is to plant it in the ground and let it become a landscape tree that I can layer from in the future.
 

zelk

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What are the benefits in separating the air layer in late fall over early spring? Does it give the air layer more time to grow it's roots into the soil before the coming spring season? Ive always had the idea that early spring is the best but i have little experience with air layering :eek: Could someone please clarify this?
 
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Brian Van Fleet

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The roots are pretty vulnerable to frost suspended in the air in a baggie...best to time separation when the leaves are pumping energy into the roots, and the roots are still growing. The goal is that the roots grow a little more in the pot after separation, and have enough time to harden off before a hard freeze hits.

Separate too soon and the roots can't support the foliage (probably what I did to get the "early fall" reaction)...separate too late and they aren't hardened off for winter.
 

Gandalph

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Just wanted to update. I separated the air layer two weeks ago and here are a couple shots. Not sure where I'm going with it, just wanted to see if I could do it. Thanks


 

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