Pomegranate Air Layer / Roots Question

Chiliwomp

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Hi all !

Long time lurker, first time poster. I’m pretty new to bonsai as of last year. Love the hobby and can’t get my nose out of books/articles.

This past fall I came across a pomegranate tree at a nursery that they were having trouble selling. I got it for a decent price with the intention of air layering the branches and salvaging as much material as I could.

The tree is about 6ft tall and the trunk is about 3 inches. It is currently in a plastic pot that is about 2 ft diameter and 1 1/2 ft tall. The guy at the nursery said that he heavy pruned it about 2 years ago and he believes that it’s been in the pot for about years. So I’m thinking I should root prune and re pot it first.

My question is this - what should I do first?

I’m thinking I should trim a 1/3 of the roots and repot it first right? Can I still air layer in the same season or should I wait? Or should I just air layer and worry about roots in spring 2021?

Any help is greatly appreciated !

Thanks !
 

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Shibui

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Pomegranate roots quite easily as cuttings so should air layer well.
Your tree should have no problem with root pruning 1/3 of the roots in spring but I usually prune some of the branches when root pruning. If you are only taking 1/3 of roots you should be able to leave enough material to layer. I assume you intend to layer the larger branches? Those thinner recent shoots would do better as cuttings IMHO.
I think you should be able to root prune and layer pomegranate in the same year. In fact, i would probably do both operations at the same time as it may be easier to apply the layers when the tree is out of the pot. You will need to take a little care if layering in the weeks following root pruning as new roots will be brittle so moving the trunk while applying layers could damage some new roots. i would not expect such damage to be fatal unless you are really rough but best to allow new roots to get started without stress. Otherwise defer layering procedure for 4-6 weeks after the tree is growing well after repot.
 

Chiliwomp

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Cool thanks. Do you think I should take more than a 1/3 of the roots? In theory, air layering most of the branches should put less pressure on the roots right?
 

Shibui

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I would feel comfortable removing up to half the roots at the first go but that may depend what I found down there. not too sure if I would go that far if I intended to layer all the branches off though.
Adding air layers will not take the pressure off the cut roots. Roots still have to supply water and nutrients to the layered part through the woody inner part of the trunk. Taking the bark off stops the food made in the leaves from moving back down through the bark to feed the trunk and roots. Stopping that movement will actually put some pressure on recovering roots because they won't be receiving fresh food to fuel new growth.
Maybe it would be safer to repot early then put layers on 3 or 4 weeks later.
 

leatherback

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I think I would upon budding in spring cut all except for your 2 most precious branches off, and treat them as large cuttings. The other two you layer later.
Then repot the tree. Taking off as much as is needed to get a decent rootball. Let that grow. Then in summer layer.

See https://www.bonsainut.com/threads/collecting-pomegranate and also https://www.bonsainut.com/threads/10-year-anniversary-punica.35211/post-643532. I was shocked at how well this all rooted. I think these are some of the most underappreciated in bonsai, looking at what results I am getting in bad climate.
 

Chiliwomp

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Stopping that movement will actually put some pressure on recovering roots because they won't be receiving fresh food to fuel new growth.
Right, I forgot to mention I was planning on not layering a branch or two in order to keep things moving properly.
 

Chiliwomp

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I think I would upon budding in spring cut all except for your 2 most precious branches off, and treat them as large cuttings. The other two you layer later.
Then repot the tree. Taking off as much as is needed to get a decent rootball. Let that grow. Then in summer layer.

See https://www.bonsainut.com/threads/collecting-pomegranate and also https://www.bonsainut.com/threads/10-year-anniversary-punica.35211/post-643532. I was shocked at how well this all rooted. I think these are some of the most underappreciated in bonsai, looking at what results I am getting in bad climate.
thanks for the advice !
 

leatherback

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Right, I forgot to mention I was planning on not layering a branch or two in order to keep things moving properly.
Just realize.. If you are layering multiple branches, the roots that are receiving energy from just 2 branches, much ensure upkeep for all the others, which are very demanding, because they are trying to build roots. You can ONLY do this with well-established trees, and expect any decent response. I would not do a lot of layers on a recently repotted tree.
 

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