Wednesday, 25 January 2017

An Air Layering Blunder

During my time growing bonsai I've propagated a number of trees by air layering unwanted sections off the ones I already own, and most of them have been done using the tourniquet method. It usually works very well, and the air layer I first mentioned in my post about my family of Ficus Ingens proved to be no exception. Well not until the time came to separate the top from the parent tree anyway.

Last week everything was looking good to go.

Air layer with a decent amount of roots

Once I'd made the first cut, severing the two halves of the tree, I noticed that the roots were coming from two points - one just above the tourniquet and the other quite a bit further down the trunk. Not ideal positioning if I wanted to create a decent root system in the future. So, assuming that most of the roots were coming from above the tourniquet, I made my next cut just below the wire. Bad mistake.

To my horror I found I now had a small tree with very little root growth and a stub of trunk with lots of roots.

I planted both in the wide, shallow pot I'd prepared, then realising how unsteady the little tree was, I made some holes in the side of the pot to tie it in place without disturbing the roots again.

Two sections in one pot. The arrow shows the stub which has most of the roots.

Here's the new tree, defoliated to reduce the stress on the tiny remaining root ball.

All I can do now is wait to see whether either section survives.

A week later the new tree is showing no signs of dying, so I'm hopeful that all is not lost. As for the stub, who knows? Some species of Ficus can be propagated from root cuttings. I'm just not sure whether Ficus Ingens is one of them.

Whatever happens my top priority for the immediate future is the parent tree.

All I had was one branch which I've wired upwards as a new leader. The trunk is rather long and straight so, depending on what develops, I may opt for a shorter tree later on.

I'm really impatient for it to produce some branches lower down so that I can start working out a plan for its future.

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