Air Layering The Bloodgood Maple

Ever since I acquired the Bloodgood Maple last autumn, I’ve been wanting to air layer the top of the tree to create another plant for training. The top portion of the plant have some nice taper, as well as good movement of the trunk. It was even more assuring that the tree have produced a lot of leaves and many adventitious buds along old trunk. The inter nodes at the top portion are also short, which makes for a good stubby tree. There’s also a branch growing out from the apex area that I want to air layer as well. So, this air layering exercise will be a two air layer effort.

First, the site that’ll be operated on. This is the branch that grew out of the apex. The inter nodes are longer on this one, so I’m not too concern even if this doesn’t root.

Air Layer - Japanese Maple Main Branch

Next, is to cut a ring around the branch. I ensured none of the cambium layer under the bark was left intact. If any of the cambium was left, the tree will try to heal over rather than producing roots. The operation was performed using a really sharp knife to ensure the cells at the cut site are nicely cut, to help with roots development. After removing the bark and cambium layer, I proceeded to poke small holes along the bark right above the band of removed bark. A YouTube video suggests that this helps with root development as well.

Air Layer - Japanese Maple Main Branch

I then proceeded to wrap the bottom with clear plastic. The clear plastic will help maintain moisture, as well as allowing me to view any root development that may occur.

Air Layer - Japanese Maple Main Branch

I tied the bottom of the wrapped plastic with a piece of wire. I also painted some rooting hormone around where I poked holes. The rooting hormone should further increase my chances of getting some roots. Next, I wrap the wound with sphagnum moss. The moss will provide a medium for the roots to grow into, and add to the humidity of the site.

Air Layer - Japanese Maple Main Branch

Tying wires around the sphagnum moss ensure there’s a good contact between the cut area and the sphagnum moss. Roots will only grow into the medium where there is good contact. I then poked holes near the bottom of the plastic wrap, to ensure water doesn’t get trapped there.

I then proceeded with air layering another site. This is the one which I care more about, and really hope to get roots from.

Air Layer - Japanese Maple Upper BranchAir Layer - Japanese Maple Upper Branch

I actually re-wrapped this air layer with a lot more sphagnum moss to ensure it doesn’t dry up too fast, and there’s sufficient medium for the new roots to grow into. The reason why air layering works is because nutrients comes up from the roots into the branch/trunk through the wood, and sugars generated from photosynthesis are carried through the cambium down back into the roots. Since we severed the cambium layer, sugar builds up at the cut area, and roots begin to develop. That’s the theory anyways, hope to actually see some roots coming out soon.

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