Metasequoia and bald cypress air layering

andrewiles

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Hey all. In my spare time rummaging around I've run across several different dawn redwood and bald cypress cultivars at local nurseries. I was thinking about buying a few larger nursery trees and air layering them over a few years to create enough material of each chosen cultivar for some forests. Maybe even some mixed-cultivar forests. I have an 0-1 career on air layering attempts thus far but I'm fine with trial and failure. I think I know what I did wrong last time...

I gather both species air layer well, but I'm curious whether this is a sensible way to make forest material. Ordering enough starter trees online looks crazy expensive, esp. for the cultivars, and most are grafted anyways. And locally I can't find places with cheap starter trees.

I've found big-enough nursery parent plants as follows: DR: Bonsai, Gold rush, Silhouette, Bizzarger, and for BC: Peve Yellow, Shawnee Brave, Peve Minaret, Little Leaf

So, thoughts from the experts? Both on this as a way to create material and whether the cultivars above air layer and grow on their own roots well enough to be feasible. Feedback much appreciated. Perhaps I'll enter the forest challenge with one parent starter tree :)
 

AJL

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Why not just collect and grow cuttings from trees growing locally parks and gardens etc ? Both species root from hardwood cuttings.
Thats how many growers propagate their material for forest groups.
 

andrewiles

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I'm just starting out and I decided I'd focus first on deciduous conifers. While I'll be able to collect some larches in the future, no option to locally collect the redwoods and cypresses. Plus, I'd like to grow the cultivars as well as the original species.

But if you're saying I should focus on cuttings rather than air layering, then yes, I can look into that. I figured air layering allows for larger initial trees.
 

sorce

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I'd avoid cultivars for root, aesthetic and legal reasons. That's a 3fer.

I reckon layers are the best way to get any material, certainly forest trees. Just do it right so you can keep em shallow!

Sorce
 

Leo in N E Illinois

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Named cultivars of dawn redwood and bald cypress are routinely grafted plants. When making air layers, one should be conscious of where the graft is located, in order to only get the desired cultivar as the air layer.

The cultivars you listed are not particularly good for bonsai. They should work as well as normal wild type seedlings. Unless you are particularly enamored with the growth traits of these cultivars, why don't you make your forests from normal, wild type seedlings?

Bald cypress and dawn redwood grow extremely fast from seed. 1 and 2 inch diameter trunks, good for forest plantings can be had in 3 summers even in my relatively short growing season. In zone 8, Washington state, you should be able to get much more growth than me.

If I were to make forests, I would just use ordinary seedlings.
 

andrewiles

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Ok, thanks for the feedback. I'll dig into this a bit more.

Reason for the cultivars is to make some forests with subtle color and structural variety. I'd like to try creating some wider landscapes of smaller, younger trees than I think is traditional, and that should provide room for variety. 5' long x 2' wide kind of thing. We shall see.
 

AJL

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Check these out
 

Deep Sea Diver

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Lot of good info here. Air layering is fun if you are willing to invest the time.

Yet if you want to jump start a Redwood forest and cut out the time , here’s a place I purchased various redwood seedlings from that were good quality. It’s in Albany, OR.

As @Leo in N E Illinois says, I’d stick with the native types. I have one blue tinged cultivar that just wont ever be a good bonsai. btw If you buy from a nursery, you can even call and ask for a variety of sizes/year groups for a forest. Or you could just get one for a mother tree and start layering in a year or two.

cheers
DSD sends
 

andrewiles

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Been reading up on hardwood cuttings. I'll try some in the coming month. Seems to be some disagreement on whether the hardwood cuttings should be covered. Link AJL posted above mentions it, but others push back. I like this video, if only because he has a good story about cooking ham.


Summary is that hardwood cuttings should be kept in drier air, while softwood should be covered. I'm going to start mine uncovered in sand, in the house, on a heat pad. I'll post an update on how it goes.
 

johng

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Most cultivars are often much weaker than the species. This often leads to disappointment and failure when they are used for Bonsai. Propagation of cultivars is also challenging, hence the grafting in the landscaping industry.
As suggested, do yourself a favor and work with the species... you’ll be much happier with the long term outcome.
 

Timbo

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Hardwood cuttings for Dawn Redwoods seem to be easy to root. Pretty hardy trees also if they dry out, had a couple dry out too fast in a colander, but came back a few weeks later. I put them in a container or some kind of dome with light/sun while they bud out. Never really air layered them, cuttings from pruning seem to strike often enough.
 

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