Acer Shiraswanum air layer goes into its first bonsai pot

I started this air layer in 2015 to try and improve the nebari on this acer shiraswanum that had been growing in my garden for a number of years. The first picture shows the old root base and the position of the layer further up the trunk.


I severed the layer in April 2016 and placed the tree in a large plastic pot for 2 years to let the new roots develop. I removed the tree from the pot this morning to find that it had filled the container with fine roots in just 2 seasons.



It took quite a lot of effort to comb out and shorten the new roots and to cut back the remains of the stump beneath the roots. This is how it looked after this work was completed.


Here it is now in its now in its new pot.It’s now ready to begin the long journey that will transform it into a bonsai.





An Update on my Air Layers

Here’s an update on some of the air layers I’ve been working on over the past 12 months.

This Acer Shiraswanum was layered last year in early summer, which caused it to display autumn colour very early.


It was separated from the rootstock in the Spring of this year an secured into a large plastic pot for stability and further root development


The new leaves this year are looking good and behaving normally but it hasn’t put on any new extension growth yet. I will probably give it another year in this pot before transferring it to a training pot.


This hawthorn  was started  a couple of years ago.


When it was severed from the parent plant, there were not that many roots on the layer and most of these were on one side of the tree


It was planted into this training pot to allow the roots time to develop. Its been in there for 2 seasons now and the roots are pushing out the drainage hole at the bottom of the pot. I will transfer this to a new pot next Spring.


This larch was started in Spring this year. It has no sign of any new roots yet and the foliage is looking a little weak. I’ve increased the amount of sphagnum moss around the layer and we’ll see how it looks by the end of the season



On the other hand, this little cotoneaster, which was also started this year is showing lots of new roots at the moment. I could sever it now but I think I will leave it until next year to do so.



Working on Air Layers

I have spent some time this week working on trees that were either air layered in the recent years or required to be air layered to improve he trunk line or the nebari.


I have had mixed success with this procedure in the past. Most of my failures were due to poor technique, a lack of experience or my own impatience. I have decided that this year I will attempt  a lot of air layers to improve my technique and increase my knowledge and experience on a wider range of species.

This little hawthorn, which didn’t have many roots when it was separated last year is looking very strong at the moment. Planting it deep in a clay training pot appears to have paid off with lots of new top growth. I will leave it in this pot for another year and take a look at the roots again next year. The post covering the separation can be viewed here .


The first to get my attention this year is this Japanese larch. When I was styling this tree over the winter, it struck me that the top could make a nice semi-cascade if the straight lower trunk could be removed. Larch are reputed to be difficult to air layer but not impossible. This is good material to experiment with. If I do nothing to this tree, it will probably never make a good bonsai but success with the air layer could improve its’ potential immensely.


In the next picture a ring of bark has been removed at the point where I would like the new roots to grow.


In the next picture, the wound is covered by a thick layer of sphagnum moss, which is held in place with bubble wrap and aluminium wire.


The next one to receive my attention was this little cotoneaster. It has similar problems to the larch. The lower trunk is very straight and has no taper. Air layering this tree could provide me with 2 better pieces of material to work on in the future.


And finally, for today, I thought I would give you an update on an air layer started last year and separated from the old rootstock today. It’s an Acer Shirasawanum Aurem. This is how it looked in the late summer of last year. It went into autumn colour very early and it was suggested that this might be related to the fact that it had air layering work done on it earlier in the year.45

It had produced roots by last autumn but I decided to wait until this spring before separating it.

This is how the new roots are looking at the moment.


It was sawn off just below the new rootball and tied into a deep pot without further disturbance of the roots. The rootball was covered in a loose mix of clay particles, ezo grit and akadama.


I gave it a good watering and it will be kept in a shaded corner of the greenhouse until it’s in full leaf.




Air Layering an Acer Shirasawanum

This acer, which had been growing in a large pot in my garden for many years was transferred to a bonsai pot 2 years ago. It doesn’t have a very attractive root base, so today I decided to air layer it with a view to improving it .


Here is a photograph of my garden from 2005, which shows this tree sitting in the foreground.


This next picture was taken half way through the process and highlights the unattractive root base quite well.


The cut is surrounded with fresh sphagnum moss and covered with bubble wrap. I will monitor the progress closely for the remainder of the season and cut it off early next year if all goes to plan.