Air Layering Japanese Maples

Discussion in 'Maples' started by Layne Uyeno, Aug 3, 2004.

  1. Layne Uyeno

    Layne Uyeno Active Member 10 Years

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    Hi all,

    Another newbie question: I know that most if not all Japanese maple cultivars bought at nurseries are grafted. Some can even be raised from cuttings, but most don't do well. But, I've been wondering about air layering lately. Vertrees mentions it in his book. I'm thinking air layering would be an ideal way to propagate maples for the hobbyist like me. No root stock to raise. No graft scare. A strong new tree in a fairly short time. The only down side is perhaps more labor intensive than grafting? Has any one done air layering to propagate Japanese maples? And if so, what are the practical advantages and disadvantages for some one like me who wants to try and propagate just a couple of maples a year?

    Thanks,

    Layne
     
  2. Acer palmatum 'Crazy'

    Acer palmatum 'Crazy' Active Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    Air Layering

    Hi Layne,
    Air layering is a viable way to propagate som eof your maples. It is not to labor intensive once you have set it up. Keeping it moist would be the only labor involved.

    I tried my first couple attempts this year with a 'Sangu Kaku', 'Butterfly', and 'Karasu Gawa'. I started in late may. I made the cut just thru the outer layer. The ring went all the way around and was as wide as the thickness of the limb. I wet spagnhum moss and wrapped it around squezing tightly. Then covered with plastic wrap, tied at both ends with wire wrap. Then covered with aluminum foil. Every couple of weeks i would open one end of the wrap and check for mositure and add some if dry. I propably should have checked more. I started panicking when i saw some leaves drying up on them, so i cut them all, bad mistake. I do that alot with my maples, LOL. But the two Sangu Kaku's i did had roots thru the moss. The others didnt.
    I have repotted the two 'Sangu Kaku's and they seem to be going fine, with even some new buds breaking. We shall see next spring.

    There are several good Bonsai sites with instructions, so do a search for them. Some use a cup with dirt and moss, I might try that next year. I would say the key is to keep mosit, but not wet where fungus starts growing. The foil is very nice for insulating from the sun.

    Here is a pretty good propgression done by a bonsia enthusiast
    http://forum.bonsaitalk.com/showthread.php?s=&threadid=6333

    Good luck and let me know how it goes.
     
  3. Elmore

    Elmore Active Member 10 Years

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    Use your knife for grafting

    Instead of cutting a wedge into the stem or branch, I suggest taking a piece of copper wire, wrap the wire once around the stem, twist the wire ends together until it is good and tight, 360 degrees around the stem, but not to the point of cutting through the bark. If it does break the bark tissue, no big deal but it is not necessary to cut into the stem. Place a poly bag (open on both ends)over the stem and secure it with a twist tie at a point below the copper wire, place damp sphagnum moss into the poly bag and seal the top with another twist tie. I would make the size of the rooting medium, the moss, about 2.5" to 3" in length and about 2" to 2.5" in width or as big as a small fist. Also secure the poly bag at a point so that your moss is basically centered over the copper wire. Check and maintain the moisture level of the medium and watch for formation of roots. When a good deal of roots form, severe the rooted portion of the plant and pot it up. I would do this in spring so that my air layered plant would have time to root, be potted up and grow for a while before winter set in.
     
  4. Layne Uyeno

    Layne Uyeno Active Member 10 Years

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    Hi Elmore,

    Thanks for the info! I read somewhere about this technique I think. It sounds familiar. It sounds much easier than girdling the branch or cutting a slit into the bark. The idea is to choke off sap going to the roots, no? And, unlike the other two techniques (especially girdling), at least if it doesn't root you're not left with a big ugly scar. I know you have a pretty big collection. Do you mostly air layer or graft?

    Thanks again,

    Layne
     
  5. Elmore

    Elmore Active Member 10 Years

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    Graft

    I mainly graft and grow some from seed but I may do an air layer in the future. I told some about this method and watched as it was successfully carried out. Once stayed in a Holiday Inn Express, too.
     
  6. Layne Uyeno

    Layne Uyeno Active Member 10 Years

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    Hi Crazy,

    Thanks for the suggestions. You say you girdle the trunk. Have you ever tried the technique of cutting a slit and sticking a toothpick under the flap? Also, what kind of rooting hormone do you use?

    Thanks,

    Layne
     
  7. Acer palmatum 'Crazy'

    Acer palmatum 'Crazy' Active Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    Air Layer

    Hi Layne,
    I have heard of the toothpick method, but never tried it.

    From what i gather reading Bonsai material the tree can grow bark back over the cut sometimes, so that is why the big slit appromixately the width of the limb or trunk being layered. The butterfly i tried had a mass growing on the slit that looked like it was refusing the bark across the slit.

    Let me know how it goes. What size and cultivar ar eyou trying? I have several green maples that i plan on air layering once i get the trunk size i want, for Bosai. I am learning to graft this weekend, so once i get that down i plan on trying graft some low ones for Bonsai. I also will try some rooting some cuttings. Sucess rate is usally low, but if i am pruning what the heck.

    Mike
     
  8. Layne Uyeno

    Layne Uyeno Active Member 10 Years

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    Hi Crazy,

    I'm thinking of air layering my Tama hime in winter. The nodes are rather close together and I may want to try my hand at raising it as a bonsai and not having the graft will look nicer. Also, I'm thinking about air layer a couple branches off the Mystery maple I posted about earlier. And, I have a red leaf seedling that I'll want to top later and it seems a waste if I just throw it away.

    Layne
     
  9. Acer palmatum 'Crazy'

    Acer palmatum 'Crazy' Active Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    Hey Layne,

    It sounds like we are both trying the same things.

    I topped a basic red japanese maple last winter (6in 1st year seedling) and stuck the tip into the ground and it rooted. So you might try rooting the pruning.

    Yes i like you am trying to get some stock without graft marks for Bonsai also.

    I am happy i got two sangu kaku's rooted so i plan on growing them for Bonsai.

    I just got some great lessons this weekend on grafting, so i might try to graft some really low and try that for Bonsai also. Also by me doing the graft, i might can try to do a better job on the graft union than some done for more for landscaping. Of course i will have to get a little better, LOL. It was a little tedious at first, but i was pretty good by my 20th tree. I will feel better when i see my success rate and can examine the good and bad ones.

    I am growing out a green japanese seedling for a trunk, and plan on trying to air layer the top off for a second tree.

    I also plan on collecting seed this fall and trying to germinate alot. Then i can pick any interesting ones and grow them out for Bonsai.

    Mike Acer palmatum 'Crazy'
     
  10. Layne Uyeno

    Layne Uyeno Active Member 10 Years

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    The thing I'm apprehensive about regarding grafting is that it requires some skill and practice...the two things I don't have yet. :-) Well, I don't have enough seedlings (none at the moment) nor practice trees to graft to get some practice in. My main concern is the Mystery maple. I don't want to try and graft a couple of branches this year or next only to have the grafts not take. It seems to be a slow grower *and* self-pruning.

    Air layering seems to not require as much practice or skill...just the right cut, or with Elmore's suggestion the right amount of tightness of the copper wire around the branch is all that's required. That and making sure the peat moss doesn't dry out.

    I too got some seeds(!) and plan on raising some babies along with a friend who I'm giving some seeds to.

    Layne
     
  11. Layne Uyeno

    Layne Uyeno Active Member 10 Years

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    Hey Elmore and A.P. Crazy,

    While looking for pics of Kuromastu (Japanese Black Pine) bonsai I came across this interesting info on air layering! Go to:

    http://www.stonelantern.com/bonsaitoday1999.html#

    and scroll down to the #64 issue of Bonsai Today and click on the link that says "The Beauty of Acer Palmatums". A jpeg of air layering techniques will open in a new window. He places a small plastic pot around the layer and uses Akadama potting soil instead of moss. Very interesting!

    I was thinking of waiting for spring to layer some branches, but might start this fall. I figure the cooler weather might be better down here in Los Angeles and help keep the layer medium from drying out.

    Layne
     
  12. Elmore

    Elmore Active Member 10 Years

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    Got it

    Thanks Layne
     
  13. mr.shep

    mr.shep Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Hi Layne:

    Your Tamahime will be easier for you to air layer than it
    will be for you to graft it. You may find it true for most
    all of the dwarf palmatums and many of the semi-dwarfs
    also. I've seen one person in particular air layer lots of
    Maples in the past. It was unusual to see so many "field
    grown" Maples just a few miles south of me but what was
    more unusual was to see so many of those Maples that had
    small propped pots hanging off to the sides of the trees. For
    you not having a greenhouse, air layering is probably your
    best method to propagate your Maples.

    The advantage of air layering over cutting growing your
    Maples is that you can get a root system to develop faster
    and with better results. Propagating Maples by cuttings
    takes a long while to do. Many people say that Maples do
    not do well on their own roots but that is not entirely true.
    What is true is that it does take a longer while to generate
    a decent root system and a lot of people, including nursery
    people, do not have the patience to wait that long. Also,
    the cuttings must be grown in a greenhouse with a "ME"
    type or another misting system to be adequate. Air layering
    done by the right person’s hands is much more effective
    than grafting but it takes longer to see our results and we
    must baby our plants for a longer period of time than with
    grafting.

    One of the areas where we have a distinct advantage is that
    we have a longer growing season than many areas have. You
    can air layer your Maples almost at will, anytime, as your
    biggest concern will be freezes and frosts which you do not
    get too often where you are located.

    Yes, specialized soil mixes do seem to work better for air
    layering. It worked well for us on a witches broom on a
    Calabrian Pine that Steve and I did years ago on his tree.

    Jim
     
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2004
  14. Layne Uyeno

    Layne Uyeno Active Member 10 Years

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    Hi Jim,

    Do you think it would be okay to try air layering in the fall? My thinking is that by late spring the plant should be more than ready to pot up and have all summer to grow. Or, will the plant not produce roots over the winter?

    Akadama soil is what they use in Japan for bonsai. It's natural soil that they've dug up. When I was a kid in Hawaii my dad would drag me with him to go dig dirt into 5 gal. buckets. Then, we'd come home and he'd have me help sift the dirt. He never used store bought potting soil to pot his bonsai. The *natural* stuff was always better.

    Thanks,

    Layne
     
  15. mr.shep

    mr.shep Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Hi Layne:

    If you were dealing with an evergreen rather than a
    deciduous tree then yes, I would try in the Fall. The
    problem is you will need steady growth to help you.
    You can get some roots to start in the Fall but they
    will just sit there and not do much. The person that
    showed me always did his Maples in the Spring when
    we can direct the growth to go elsewhere. I've not
    done air layering on Maples but I have done it on
    a few Pines (Calabrian, Scotch and a form of Dwarf
    Siberian) and a Soquel Redwood that threw out a
    series of variegated sports on the tips, much like an
    Albo Spica does. For the Conifers we did, we started
    them in the Fall but it was late Summer before we
    could pot them up. Shoot, our pots were 30' off the
    ground for the Calabrian Pine but it was worth the
    trouble we went through as that witches broom was
    quite unusual, especially for that Pine. Steve is the
    transplanted Iowa St. Cyclone Veterinarian. For the
    trade shows that he attended with us he was designated
    the Henderson Gardens Vet.

    We used a specialized soil mix that I made that was
    predominately river bottom silt which had a lot of
    freshwater diatoms in it. I've always been a huge
    believer of using lots of silt for potting mixes.
    Don did also for his nursery. I may recommend
    sand and silt for others but I use mainly silt and
    just a little coarse sand for my plants here.

    I stayed out of this thread until you started to think
    Bonsai. I saw from your link that you were on the
    right track but still you are in uncharted waters for
    Maples. There isn't much known for this process
    as not too many people have tried it on Maples but
    the ones that have and were serious into it were
    mainly Japanese and had a lot of Bonsai knowledge.

    Jim
     
  16. Ralph Walton

    Ralph Walton Active Member 10 Years

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    air layering

    There is a dandy looking (I've got some but I haven't tried them out yet) split plastic pot for air layering from Lee Valley. Has anybody tried one of these gadgets? Or is the traditional method just as easy? (I haven't tried that yet either).
    I assume this is a spring thing either way, but how early? Do we wait for complete leaves or can we start as soon as the buds are opening?
     
  17. Layne Uyeno

    Layne Uyeno Active Member 10 Years

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    Hi Ralph,

    I know what you're talking about. I've seen those pots in my Lee Valley catalog too and was thinking about getting a couple. Doing a bit of research and asking my dad, who been raising bonsai since before I was born (39 yrs) I've found there are different ways to air layer. You can squeeze damp peat moss around the layer and wrap with aluminum foil or wrap and tie an opaque plastic bag. The nice advantage to the Lee Valley pot is it's easy to keep the soil moist using the syringe. But, I'm also thinking the pot might be too big for some of the branches I'm thinking about layering (I have a tiny Tama hime).

    Lee Valley also sells a cute little cutting kit that I'd also like to experiment with. I'd like to do some air layering and in case that fails I can also have a couple of cuttings as back up. I'd like to propagate that Mystery Maple I've posted about earlier so that that heaven forbid something should happen to that pretty little tree there'll be clones at a couple of friends' places. :-)

    I don't know when the best time in spring would be to start layering but I'm guessing, based on what my dad told me about the mechanics of plant nutrient transportation, just after the leaves emerge. If I remember correctly, the leaves send sugar down to the lower parts of the tree through the phloem. When this flow is interrupted either by straddling the bark through to the cambium layer or constricting the flow by twisting wire around the branch the tree can not send nutrients from the leaves down to the lower parts and puts out roots where the damage occured. When my dad explained this I understood Jim's advice about needing steady tissue growth in order to stimulate the tree to send out roots from the straddled area. When I understood this that's when a light went off in my head and understood why air layering should be done in spring...the tree is "thinking" [in late fall] no leaves no need to send out roots....[in spring] growing leaves must send out roots!

    Frankly I'm too skittish to take a knife to my trees. :-/ I'm going to try and use the wire technique as it seems simpler than straddling the branch with a knife. My dad said my cousin uses the wire method with good success.

    Layne Uyeno
     
  18. Elmore

    Elmore Active Member 10 Years

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    It's not nice to fool Mother Nature

    but when the stem is girdled the normal transport of auxin, which is polar or in other words moves down through plant tissues from apex to base, terminal bud to roots, is abolished and therefore accumulates in the stem above the girdle. This causes swelling and adventitious root formation. Spring is the right time. That gives your newly forming root system time to develop enabling you to pot it up before fall approaches.
     
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2004
  19. Acer palmatum 'Crazy'

    Acer palmatum 'Crazy' Active Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    Hi Lance,
    Just wanted to see how your air-layers are doing?

    I just moved the 'Sango Kaku' that i air-layered from the pot i had it in over winter to the ground. It has leafed out nicely.

    Mike
     
  20. Layne Uyeno

    Layne Uyeno Active Member 10 Years

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    Hi Mike,

    I haven't air layered my maples yet. The one maple I wish to air layer hasn't leafed out yet. :-( But I will keep you and the rest posted. Glad to here that your air layered Sango kaku is doing well. Do you mind sharing what method you used (girdle, wire wrap, toothpick, rooter pot, peat moss around wound, etc.) and any problems or advice you may have?

    Layne
     
  21. Acer palmatum 'Crazy'

    Acer palmatum 'Crazy' Active Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    Hi,
    I girdled the tree all the way around with about a 1/2 inch gap, make sure the gap is wide enough are the tree will scar over the whole section.
    I used moss and a little potting soil wrapped around, then plastice wrap wrapped around with twist ties on both top and bottom, then aluminum foil wrapped around that.

    I think the key is to keep a level of moisture that doesnt get mold or fungus. Havent quite figured out the best way.
    I might also try some sort of cup this year also, i would love to have the top open to rain so i wouldnt need to replace the water. Tought to keep that amount of soil from drying out, but still draining well.

    I am trying a couple of cutting experiments also, so i will let you know as they progress.

    My results from learning grafting from Dale Berrong last year are in. 5 out of about 50. 10% not great, but think i can get better at it. Hopefully i can be like Dale doing 1 a minute with success rates in the 90% range.

    Mike
     
  22. mjh1676

    mjh1676 Active Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    Antifungals?

    Hey Mike:

    Have you ever thought of adding a little captan to the mix or spraying the wounded area and medium with something like Phyton 27 or other antifungal. Probably a very similar situation to rooting cuttings, but you have even less air flow in your enclosed space. Mabye if you could inhibit fungal growth, even temporarily, you would not have to fight the water level so much. I think they also sell seed starter mixes with inhibitors mixed in as to make things easier. Just a few cents worth, as I know we don't always have time to micromanage each and every project and plant. I am glad you had succes with the one!!

    Also, Layne posted a link to a seller of those little air layering pots. The particular pot they sell can be resused and is self-watering. Whether or not it works is another thing.

    Michael
     
  23. Acer palmatum 'Crazy'

    Acer palmatum 'Crazy' Active Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    I think it would be a good idea.

    I havent tried any fungal chemicals, mainly because i havent researched enough to know.

    I bought some fungal spray last year, but not sure what it was. I have a bad habit of only buying cheap stuff on special, LOL.

    I will try something on my attempts this year.

    Mike
     
  24. Layne Uyeno

    Layne Uyeno Active Member 10 Years

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    Re: Antifungals?

    Hi Mike,

    Since my last post regarding the rooter pot I found another source that sells the smaller version of the pot. I think this might be a more ideal size for Japanese maples.

    http://www.groworganic.com/item_GP150_BabyRooterPots314diax4deep.html

    It's good for 1/4" - 1/2" branches. I also found this one:

    http://indigo.ie/~gyrosak/

    Though I think the pot is easier to keep the rooting medium moist.

    Layne
     

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