Once and for all — can Atlas Cedar be layered?

Ronin_

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Hello all, first post here.

I have a Blue Atlas Cedar that I got as cheap sickly nursery stock a year and a half ago. I got it to full health last year and now have it in a pond basket coiled into quite a lovely extreme shape with some 5mm wire (cant ground grow atm). The tree is fairly young (trunk is thinner than a marker pen). It has some inverse taper near the bottom of the trunk, where it looks like a relatively large branch used to be, forming an ugly knuckle. It’s not outside the realm of possibility to achieve enough flair just underneath it to fix this (by cutting bark and other methods), but the obvious solution is a ground layer. I’m also honestly not sure from what I’ve seen whether the tree is grafted onto different rootstock (as I’ve heard Atlas Cedar can be); but this would be another reason to layer.

Now herein lies the problem. There is relatively little written online about layering Atlas Cedar (I’ve read basically all of it). It’s a mix of failed attempts, second hand accounts of successful attempts, mythical lore about how Atlas Cedar are difficult or impossible to layer, and steadfast conviction that they can or should be able to be layered given enough time. All accounts being several years old.

Does anyone have any first hand experience with layering Atlas Cedar? Does anyone have any valid scientific reason why Atlas Cedar can or cannot be layered? If I attempted a ground layering, would it be wise not to use sphagnum in order to not expose new roots to too much moisture? Would a tourniquet be better than cutting a ring of bark (as I’ve read)?

Im willing to take a risk here, and am happy to spend an extra season to get results (have heard that may be necessary with Atlas Cedar). However, I don’t want to attmept something that is completely futile and risk killing my tree.

Thanks
 

sorce

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Wires_Guy_wires

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I have no first hand experience layering them, but since they're so sensitive about rootwork, I think chances of layering are slim.

You can always give a branch a try to see if it can be done. Then if it works, do the trunk.
 

discusmike

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Better chance at winning the lottery, if you do try, I believe the tourniquet method with wire is the way to go, would take a lot longer then say a maple
 

0soyoung

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My firsthand experience indicates: NO.
(I've never been wrong before; this could be the first time)

My experience was educational, though. I had one with the first foliage too far above the ground. About halfway through the second season, the tree collapsed. Hmmmm 🤔 I hadn't thought about how long roots can survive on stored carbohydrates before this. Then later, when studying how root apical meristems operate, I realized it also could have been the loss of auxin caused the roots to quit growing! 🤔🤔. Well, I don't know which it was, but I made a little rule for myself to always try to have a branch below my layering girdles - not possible when ground layering a trunk 😱

I'll also note that "the tourniquet method" works because the wire eventually strangles the phloem and then the cambium. It is just the slow way of making a girdle with a dull knife. It is just less likely to bridge.
 
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I hadn't thought about how long roots can survive on stored carbohydrates before this. Then later, when studying how root apical meristems operate, I realized it also could have been the loss of auxin caused the roots to quit growing! 🤔🤔. Well, I don't know which it was, but I made a little rule for myself to always try to have a branch below my layering girdles - not possible when ground layering a trunk 😱
Ryan Neil mentioned in stream on a juniper he layered that most larger conifers need a branch below the layer to keep the roots alive. The exceptions would be conifers that move a ton of water. I don't remember for sure, but I think he said it was due to insufficient carbohydrate storage.
 

caffeinated

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Before I read that it couldn't be done, I tried a couple (girdle cut) on a great landscape tree I had. They failed. I left them on over a year. I've also managed to kill a couple after some indelicate repots, so yeah, their roots are fussy business.
 

Paradox

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No first hand experience
Everything I've read indicates no
 

Ronin_

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Thanks for the replies everyone. It seems it’s probably not worth the risk to try. I will probably go about wounding the bark underneath the inverse taper and keep thickening it like that, while giving it space to grow. I also read an account of someone doing a tourniquet and achieving drastic flare, but without roots. Perhaps in future i can try a tourniquet just above the current roots to induce some of this flare, and then take it off after a season or so. In any case, any new work will be done next year.

Very grateful for everyones input!
 

NamesakE

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My firsthand experience indicates: NO.
(I've never been wrong before; this could be the first time)

My experience was educational, though. I had one with the first foliage too far above the ground. About halfway through the second season, the tree collapsed. Hmmmm 🤔 I hadn't thought about how long roots can survive on stored carbohydrates before this. Then later, when studying how root apical meristems operate, I realized it also could have been the loss of auxin caused the roots to quit growing! 🤔🤔. Well, I don't know which it was, but I made a little rule for myself to always try to have a branch below my layering girdles - not possible when ground layering a trunk 😱

I'll also note that "the tourniquet method" works because the wire eventually strangles the phloem and then the cambium. It is just the slow way of making a girdle with a dull knife. It is just less likely to bridge.
Damn! Just air layered a beech I collected and had potted for a couple years. Cool branches but too high so I air layered just below them all. Wish I had found this first! Thanks for the info!
 
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