Juniper Air Layer Advice for first timer.

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Slothman
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Juniper Air Layer Advice for first timer.

Post by Slothman »

Ok. I have been quite for a few years. I had been collecting some stock to learn and play with however I changed jobs. As things like this do my free time got changed severely, add to that my first kid came along. Long story short, leaving bonsai stock in care of the other half results in a lot less stock ;)

So I started saving, regrowing and rebuilding. Its been fun and I have learned a great deal. I even have a heap of seed I plan on trying to grow some trees for the yard, bonsai and for some mates, just to experiment etc.

But I am still very inexperienced. However I want to keep trying and nursery stock down here is very very limited. So to the air layer.

At my work we have this bloody huge sprawl of green out the back that is incredibly healthy. It is a scale juniper, pretty common. It won't make amazing bonsai but it will make amazing learning opportunities. If I took a punt on size it is around 4-5 meters long, 2-3 meters wide and around 1.5 meters tall. It is incredibly healthy and looks solid. The boss has said I can do what I want with it. Magic.

I went in on the weekend and slowly started pushing, pulling, pruning until I could get an idea on what I wanted to do. I have found an awesome area to try to air layer. i still have to prune back a bit to get a better idea but it will give me options for jin, styling and general wiring and learning. I doubt this will make a great bonsai, which is why I am keen to try stuff.

I have been reading up about air layers, the biology behind them, and I feel confident I can get this done. The plan is to start the air layer around August/September depending on the weather down here. I was hoping to start it just as new growth appeared, or prefereably just before. The air layer is towards the top of this particular "bush" so I have no fear of killing the rest of it. There is more I can do in years to come as I learn. However there is one thing I am really uncertain of.

How much foliage do I leave above the air layer? I understand I need more healthy growth and essentially new growth to make it work, however the trick is then the balance between enough foliage to promote the growth of the roots, but then not too much for when I seperate the layer for the new roots to support. I know this will revert back to immature needle growth pretty quickly, and that is fine as I am trying this out. But if I can attempt to do it, I might as well try to do it right.

There is a LOT of foliage on this one, so I could get brutal. If it helps I can try to get some pics of it over the weekend as I plan to come in and do some basic pruning around the area to help the canopy remain green without a "empty" spot when I get rid of (not that its important). This will also give me a clearer access and a better idea.

Is this kind of a "experience needed" type question?
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Re: Juniper Air Layer Advice for first timer.

Post by Mbunro »

im probably not the best to offer any real tips on the airlayer but your plan sounds good to me.
Thought it would be worth noting though that on junipers as large as your describing (well the few near my work anyway) generally ground layer pretty easily so if any of the lower longer branches look like they dip into the ground you mite get lucky and find that all the work has already been done for you.. then its just a matter of waiting for the right time of year to dig.
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Re: Juniper Air Layer Advice for first timer.

Post by shibui »

As you've already mentioned generally more foliage on a layer means quicker and better roots so leave plenty. If you think there is far too much on the branch you're layering then cut some off before layering but just leave a good amount. After roots have grown would be the time to cut the extra foliage back if you're worried about too much v roots but again, I'd leave a reasonable amount on to stimulate further root growth after you cut it off the garden plant and pot up.
A number of times I have been surprised by how well a layer has done after being taken off the parent with just a few small roots. They will generally grow well with far fewer roots than we give credit for so don't be too worried.

My advice with layers:
Layer does not need to be straight across the trunk. Layering at an angle across the trunk/branch can often give a far better trunk angle and will result in a thicker looking trunk than one that sticks straight up out of the pot.
Look for spots where the trunk/branch is not straight and either has taper or has nearby branches where you can prune to make taper.
Several attempts will give insurance in case one does not work :fc:
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Slothman
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Re: Juniper Air Layer Advice for first timer.

Post by Slothman »

Thanks for the advice everyone.

This thing is truly a massive specimen. It appears to be planted in like a planter box or something and has just taken over a parking spot. I actually don't know until I start cleaning it up.

I do like the idea if pruning it back once I have separated the layer. That will also give me a better opportunity to access the viability of branches.

I did consider doing an angled layer for the reasons you have mentioned. My eye was drawn to a nice line I have seen, but there is a mass of strong branches creating a "knot" that I could use for learning how to do Jin's etc.

I am hoping with my cleaning this weekend I find other alternatives that are easier to access for my first attempt. The good news is I should have years of experiments with this one and hopefully there are multiple opportunities.
Slothman
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Re: Juniper Air Layer Advice for first timer.

Post by Slothman »

Just a quick update.

I applied the Air Layer around the end of August. Trap for beginners. Do not make your first attempt one you have to clamber over the rest of the bush/plant and attempt to air layer a piece where you cannot practically get to the back of the branch to remove the bark. Had to use the camera on the phone to check it all out.

Second trap for beginner....don't attempt a vertical branch for your first attempt....its a freaking nightmare when combined with clambering over and leaning forward etc etc.

However, I checked it the other day, not expecting a great deal. It is showing good strong root growth around most of the layer. Its a good sign. I was going to check it again around December and see how its going but so far so good. Strong, solid root growth for my first tricky attempt....pretty happy so far to be honest.
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Re: Juniper Air Layer Advice for first timer.

Post by Ryceman3 »

:cool:
get a couple of pics next time if you can, I like a visual ...
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