Monday, 12 March 2018

My Air Layering Blunder - a year later

It's been over a year since my blunder when removing the air layer from a member of my family of Ficus Ingens. A blunder which meant that, instead of having one new tree with lots of roots, I found myself with a tree with very few roots and a stub with lots of roots and nothing else. At the time I feared that neither would survive, but by the time I wrote my first update three months later, it was clear that the new tree was alive and well. Things weren't looking so promising for the stub with all the roots though. A bud had formed at soil level, but nothing ever developed there and I feared that the entire stub had died of root rot.

Winter came and went, and now the end of summer is approaching, and all the while they've been left to their own devices on the bottom shelf of one of the stands in my greenhouse, receiving water and the occasional feeding, but no other attention. Today I decided to check how the tree was developing, holding no real expectations of finding a second tree there. I was in for a surprise.

Nothing has ever developed on the upper part of the stub, but clearly the roots are still alive and have sent out a brand new trunk:

The second tree, just starting to grow - March 2018

It's going to be a long time before I can do anything with that one, but perhaps in a lighter position it will develop more quickly now that it's made a start. I don't think it would be wise to disturb it just yet, but hopefully by next summer it will be ready for me to move it to a pot of its own.

The tree it shares its home with hasn't grown substantially, though it's now covered in leaves.

The new tree - March 2018 - with the second tree just visible to its right

I guess it's put most of its energy into developing lots of roots, so I expect to see a lot more growth next summer. Again, a better position should help. As I said in a previous post, the shape is all wrong, so in time I'll have to do another air layer at the bend. I've already identified a suitable new leader, so when the time comes I'll be left with a tree with a little movement. For now the future air layer will help the main tree to fatten up.

As for the parent tree, I haven't done anything to it either but it's been outside getting the full benefit of the sun so it's grown tall and strong. There are lots of new branches near the area of the air layer but it stubbornly refuses to give me any lower down on the trunk.

Parent tree - March 2018

Looking at the structure I was tempted to think that the tree wants to be a literati, but the leaves are far too big to make that an option. One of these days I'll have to sit down and see what other options it has to offer. Perhaps a hard pruning will finally persuade it to produce those lower branches I want.

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