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Air Layering Experiment

9 years 6 months ago - 9 years 6 months ago #19034 by Taffy
Back on 19th December 2010, I started an experiment to see which way of doing Air-Layers would be the most successful. My ‘victim of choice’ was a Ficus Benjamina.

I used five different methods. The first four had ring barks about 2.5cm long cut in the branches:

‘Normal’ wrapping with clear plastic:



Using one drink bottle top:






Using two drink bottle tops on inside the other:



Using a small plastic pot cut down the side with a hole cut in the bottom. This was filled with sand and nothing else and as can be seen in the photo, it was covered with a bit of shade cloth:





Finally, the last method that I’d never tried before. This was to cut a narrow strip of bark off around the branch and lay a piece of wire in the groove:





The first three and the last methods had damp Sphagnum moss wrapped around them. All the sealed layers remained damp until I severed them on 25th March 2011. The pot filled with sand dried out a few times (because I was a bit lax in watering it) but was also severed on the same day. Without exception, all layers produced very good root balls (I didn’t get a photo of the ‘wire’ root-ball).

Plastic Wrap



Single Cup



Double Cup



Pot layer before removal from pot



Pot layer after removal from pot



There was nothing scientific or controlled about this experiment – except all layers were applied on the same day, all were severed on the same day and every layer survived:

Plastic Wrap



Single Cup



Double cup



Open pot



Wire Tourniquet



From this ‘experiment’ I can only surmise it doesn’t really matter what method you use to achieve a successful outcome.

Bear in mind, this was all done on a single Fig species – Ficus Benjamina. There may be different results with other tree species.

Hopefully, this experiment may be of use to others considering trying Air-Layering.

Regards,

Taffy

A seed is actually a tree packed ready for travel. (Bill Funk)

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9 years 6 months ago #19045 by Rod Lovett
Thanks Taff .
Very informative for anyone looking at airlayering some bonsai material. Where you surprised at the outcome, that all the techniques worked as well as each other ? I didn`t think the sand would have been as successful as it was, goes to show why figs do so well as bonsai.
Cheers Rod .....

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9 years 6 months ago #19047 by Taffy
Thanks Rod.

Yes, I was exceptionally surprised that just straight sand did so well. That sand was sifted from the normal concrete mix - sand and gravel. The gravel I use on the top of my pots and the sand is usually just chucked on the garden.

The other thing that surprised me was the perfect radial root spread using this method and the fact that it did so well considering I kept forgetting to water it.

The wire tourniquet also surprised me. I expected to see the cambium find a way through or around the wire and callous over - or an absolutely minimal amount of roots forming. It didn't happen though. All methods produced an excellent quantity of roots.

Couldn't agree more - figs do really go well as Bonsai, and I reckon for an absolute beginner there isn't a better species to begin with - tough, forgiving and virtually bullet-proof as long as they get a bit of water.

Regards,

Taffy

A seed is actually a tree packed ready for travel. (Bill Funk)

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9 years 6 months ago #19048 by Peter Woosley
I wonder if an apparent "best" method will eventuate later. The nabari produced may differ from method to method, maybe. Keep us informed on how it goes in the future Taffy. Great work mate, thanks for your efforts.

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9 years 6 months ago #19054 by Shannon young
Great tutorial Taffy.... Love those clear camera shots, great quality!

.....BONSAI ON THE BRAIN.....

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9 years 6 months ago #19058 by Taffy
You've got a good point there Peter - and yes, time will tell. I've got each layer labelled with the method used, so I'll be taking progression photos as they go along. The first re-pot should tell a bit more of the story when I remove the Sphagnum moss and see what sort of root systems we are dealing with. At this early stage, the good radial spread from the open pot method is in first place.

Thanks Shan. The camera I use is nothing special. It's a seven year old 4 megapixel 3 x zoom Olympus that I've worked the pants off! I also use a 2002 version of Paint Shop Pro (Version 7) to resize and clarify the photos a bit more.

Regards,

Taffy

A seed is actually a tree packed ready for travel. (Bill Funk)

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9 years 6 months ago #19084 by Anthony W
Thanks for the sharing Taffy, the tutorial is excellent.Good point Pete, looking forward to seeing the outcome. Thanks fellas.
cheers Anthony.

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