Two year air-layer question

Marc Wiehn

Sapling
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I have successfully air-layered trees before, however those trees rooted all in one season (from several weeks to several months). They were ready to be cut off the mother tree before our winter weather set in in earnest. With the right aftercare I was able to coddle along even the ones that needed most of our growing season to produce some decent roots. I am stumped though when it comes to trees that need more than one growing season to produce viable roots. In particular I am planning to start an air-layer with fern-leave beech and several of the red leaved varieties of beech. According to all I have read so far the beeches tend to take much longer than maple for example to root. Which brings me to my question. What options do I have if the beech layers are not ready to be cut off their mother tree before winter sets in? These will be layers of trees growing in the ground outside, so moving the trees inside is not an option. Will the frost kill any roots that may have formed during the growing season?

Also, I always started my air-layers when the first flush of leaves had emerged and was somewhat hardened. Reading through several threads here it seems that air-layering right at bud break would work as well. I could try this and give my future beech layers a few more months time to grow roots. So, what would you do, what would you recommend? Start layering fern-leave beech and red-leaved beech in April/May or later? And what do if the layer is not ready in November to be severed from the mother tree?

Thanks in advance for your ideas and thoughts.
Marc
 

rockm

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Frost and freezing kill roots. Depends on how cold it gets. If things get much below 25 F or so, the air layer could be killed. It's a crap shoot. Beech don't take longer than most other trees to air layer. I've air layered an American beech in two and a half months in springtime...
 

mcpesq817

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I recall an article in Bonsai Today where they airlayered a big beech - I think the approach they followed was to do the layer in February, so that it had longer to develop. That being said, I don't remember what kind of growing conditions they had, and your climate may differ.
 

Marc Wiehn

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Thanks for your replies. Yes, we definitely get well below 25F. Lowest temps are usually around 0F or below for a couple of days, that's why I was wondering. Can you tell me when you started your air-layer? I was planning on late March, which for me is when the first maples start to show signs of life.
 

rockm

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THe idea is to get as much time as possible to root, but not start so early as to endanger the layer with freezing and frost. That means starting early enough, but not too early. I probably have a longer growing season here in Zone 7 Virginia than you do in Indiana. I started mine in May, but began late--I had substantial rooting by the end of July.

I'd think the ideal time to start in your area would be late April (that way you don't have to worry about late frosts).
 

FrankP999

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You could put some kind of heat lamp under the layer if close to electricity. Might give you an extra few weeks at the start and end of the season. I use a 25W bulb for supplemental heat on a screen porch when necessary.
 

Marc Wiehn

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Thanks for the clarification. The end of April is probably a good time frame for me. As to the light bulb idea...I like it, but this in the middle of nowhere... no outlets for miles...

Thanks again, guys!
 

rockm

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A light bulb or even a space heater will do very little good in 24/7 open air with wintertime temps in Indiana.
 

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