Aerial-Layer Pt3

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Aerial-Layer Pt3

Postby taffyman » Sat Jan 09, 2010 10:36 pm

I picked up on Alpine's method of Air-Layering using soft drink bottles and tried it for myself, so I hope he doesn't mind me doing a topic on the procedure. I did it slightly different to Alpine, but the results are similar:

I put four layers on some thick branches on a Ficus Natalensis (Natal Fig from South Africa). With the first one, I used two cut down drink bottles (cut up the side as well) end-to-end with one slid just inside the other:

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The second photo shows the completed layer in place. This again deviates from what Alpine does in that I didn't cover the entire bottle with duct tape. That allows me to easily see when the roots are forming.

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I then wrapped the entire layer in black plastic sheet and tied it up with wire (I've now replaced the wire with string). My reasoning for wrapping in black plastic is that roots naturally grow underground where it's dark, so this simulates those conditions. There's no scientific evidence to back this up, it's just the way I like to do it (it makes me feel good :oops: ). Any time I want to check on the development of the roots, all I have to do is undo the string and have a look.

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On the second layer, I only used one drink bottle, and with the split up the side, I was able to roll it up a bit to make it thinner in diameter (I was using 1.25 litre bottles).

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Again, covered in black plastic sheet and tied in place.

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I also used a single bottle (again rolled up a bit) on each of the other two layers. In the next photo the area of removed bark is visible inside the bottle and the tape on the underside is where the cut edges of the bottle are taped together.

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Next photo is after I spun the bottle a bit so the join was on the top not the bottom (less chance of it leaking) and filled with damp Sphagnum Moss. I know it's not very environmentally friendly, but not only is it excellent for doing layers because of it water retention properties, but I still have a couple of bags of the stuff :shock: . When I run out, I intend trying some of the alternatives like coir etc.

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Something I forgot to mention with the other two single bottle layers was that I covered the top with clear plastic to seal it off and retain as much moisture as possible in the layer, and I bound the top and bottom tightly with wire to reduce any seepage.

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Once again, I covered the whole layer in black plastic sheet.
It takes a bit longer to prepare the bottles than to use just clear plastic sheet, but the bottles are a lot easier to handle and the layers can be done at any angle. Normally, if I was using clear plastic sheeting, and I wanted to do a vertical layer (as in these four) I'd lay the pot on it's side to make it easier to wrap the sheeting around the branch. Using the bottles I didn't have to.

In my opinion, using the bottles is a better way of doing Air-Layering, so I really have to thank Alpine for showing us in the first place.
Mate, if there's anything you'd like to add to this post, please do so.

Edit: I've just copied this from Alpine's Cedar topic because I think it's very pertinent to this one - it adds even more info:

Its extremely tough to cut the bottoms out with snips , a hole saw or large spade bit for drilling timber works a treat, just fill with water and freeze. You can secure them safely in a vice and drill without the risk of cut the "pinkies" off. I will need to use Bigger bottles for the bigger trunks on next years layers on the Maple currently layered.



Edit 15 March 10.

The layers above were ready to be removed by the second week of February, but I left them on until our March Bonsai meeting so that I could show some novices what a layer should look like when it's ready for removal.

All the white and brown lines in all the photos are the new roots. At this stage, I prefer to leave them embedded in and around the sphagnum moss and pot them up as they are because they are pretty fragile. Some people take the time to pick out all the sphagnum moss, but I wait till the next re-pot to do that. By then, the roots have extended into the potting mix and thickened so there is less chance of breaking them off. At that stage they do get a bit tangled, but they are still young and flexible enough to sort them out - and any that have increased dramatically in thickness will be removed.

Image Image Image Image

Image Image Image

In some of those photos, you can see some red roots with white tips. Those had actually forced their way under the necks of the bottles I used and were running down the branch and wrapping around the trunk. The ones in the 3rd photo were only about a centimetre from going into the soil mix. Luckily, I was able to peel them off the trunk and branches without damaging them and retain them when I potted them up. I gave one layer away at our meeting, and these three are allocated for three other novices.

It's been a week now since our meeting and there hasn't been a single leaf drop off these layers. I expected some to drop - it usually does, but not this time.

At that meeting, I also demonstrated how to apply an air-layer using Alpine's method and also the method I was using previously. All agreed that the bottle method seemed to be the easier of the two - and they all reckon they are going to try it. So, Strike one for Alpine! (Y) The material I used for the demo was actually an air-layer itself that I had taken about 18 months ago.

Thanks for showing us this method mate - it's very much appreciated.
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Re: Aerial-Layer Pt3

Postby alpinebonsart » Sun Jan 10, 2010 9:05 pm

Mate i should have patented the idea .You've got it wrapped up with the pics and all , good job. The only reason i use duct tape is its simple and quick . I cut a vertical slice into the tape and create a window that remains self adhesive , just peel back , look and stick back in place .

The tape when wound from the bottom supports the cone instantly from the moment you wrap the first layer around the trunk , and it doesn't mark the trunk .The tape is also the waterproof membrane sealing and keeping the light out .Just pierce with a syringe to water from the top .I would have taken some pics but i'm still a shocker at snap shots .Cheers
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Re: Aerial-Layer Pt3

Postby taffyman » Sun Jan 10, 2010 10:25 pm

Mate i should have patented the idea


Too late! the patent number is: ............... :lol: :lol: :lol:

Seriously though, it is an excellent way of doing layers - and uses something that more often than not gets thrown away as rubbish.
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Re: Aerial-Layer Pt3

Postby taffyman » Mon Mar 15, 2010 9:12 pm

New Edit added to the original post at the top. Layers successfully removed. (Y)
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Re: Aerial-Layer Pt3

Postby alpinebonsart » Tue Mar 16, 2010 9:27 pm

taffyman wrote:New Edit added to the original post at the top. Layers successfully removed. (Y)



Hi Taffyman ,that another good result , couple of question in reguards to P.J AND Morton Bay figs
1/Temps down here now around 28 during the day and 8 at night would a layer on a P.J Fig work out over the next couple of months before Winter or am i wasting my time .The fig in question is the root over rock after your tips on tip pruning it has powered on .Now i would like to layer the top off . Or would i be better off just chopping it off and allowing the rest of the season to develop the main tree

2/ Is it possible to grow a Morton Bay Fig from a large aerial root , by this i mean cutting the earial root off the tree and plant it like a rooted cutting .

3/ Is i possible to grow M.B.Figs from leaf cuttings .I have had success with P.J leaf cutting many years ago however over 200 failed this season.

I have found a tree that is 75% Green and 25% variegated ,the most unusual Fig i have seen ,it is a street scape tree at around 30-40 feet in diameter .I couldn't see a problem taking a leaf or 2 but they may just leap up and down if i took a nice branch off .These Figs are growing in East Gippsland where it gets extremely cold and plenty of frosts .Cheers Alpine
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Re: Aerial-Layer Pt3

Postby taffyman » Tue Mar 16, 2010 10:03 pm

Hi Alpine.

With your night temps down to 8, I think it's a bit late in the season. Up here, our night temps are still round the 20 mark - and the sap is still flowing freely, so I have no hesitation in doing them here.
If you really want the top, then I guess you could always apply the layer, forget about it for a few months and concentrate on the main trunk (as if that branch doesn't exist). If you're happy to cut the top of anyway, and the layer doesn't survive, then you haven't really lost anything.

I don't know about using an aerial root as a cutting, but I don't see any reason why it wouldn't shoot. I do know that if you sever an established root then there is a good probability that it will shoot. I know that Natal Figs definitely do, but Benjaminas don't. I've severed Benjamina roots a number of times after they've grown through black plastic or styrene boxes into the ground, and although they seem to stay alive (still green) for up to 2 years, they have never sent out a shoot. Natalensis on the other hand will readily send out new shoots. I severed four roots from one tree that had grown down into the ground and a few weeks later, I had four new Natal figs to dig up.

I've never done leaf cuttings, but if PJ's will, then I guess Moreton Bays should as well. Can you remember roughly what month you took the PJ cuttings that survived and what month you took the ones that didn't?

Is that part variegated one a Moreton Bay??? If it is, then I know that if it was me, I'd be doing everything I could to 'save' some of it - providing it's not and infection. Maybe take a few cuttings and see how they go - or wait till spring and then take some cuttings. I'm sure they wouldn't miss a few small cuttings - maybe ask one of the council gardeners if you can take a few (hundred! :lol: ).
I'll ask some questions and see if anybody else has come across a variegated Moreton Bay and get back to you.

Now and again I get a couple of slightly variegated leaves on one of my Port Jacksons, but they are very rare and I just thought of them as an infected leaf so I've been cutting them off and disposing of them. Might have to look at them a bit closer in the future.
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Re: Aerial-Layer Pt3

Postby alpinebonsart » Wed Mar 17, 2010 4:47 am

Hi Taffyman ,branch cuttings and leaf cuttings from the figs i received back from my Nieces were taken on the 12/4/09 only the branch cuttings grew on ,the leaf cuttings calloused up in Winter then shrivelled up in early summer .No Autumn down here this season it went from Winter straight into Summer ,still had snow on the alps on the 30/11 and then 40 degree temps in mid December .

Can't remember what time of the year i took the leaf cuttings that worked it was over 12 years ago , however i know they sprouted very quick .

The variegated P.J is and looks very healthy the leaves are more a creamy white with green mottling rather than a green leaf with white mottling , shiney and firm .The variegation is on the south side of the tree facing the street, the North side is sheltered buy a 2-3 story building. At the time i never had my camera but i do plan on crossing the mountain before Winter sets in , i will take some pics of the tree and ask for some cuttings if possible .

As to the Layer i think i had best just cut it off and stick it in some sand and concetrate on the branches ,Maybe tip prune again ??. I've got enough little Figs to keep alive over winter, just hate waste . How are you managing with all that rain up in QLD , we need a big mother pipe to drain it down south , past Sydney they to have had enough .Cheers and many thanks Alpine
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