Creating Koto-Hime Bonsai from Nursery Stock

In this video Corin demonstrates how to propagate Japanese Maples using air layering. Air laying is a process that involves stripping the bark from a section of trunk and enclose the wound in sphagnum moss. Corin uses the split method & tries out the new air layering pods.

In around 10 weeks time the layer will be cut from the parent to create a new tree.

Video Transcript

hello today we’re going to do a second part on our air layering uh video on ace upon martin kotahimi in part one that was filmed a few a couple of months ago or so you would have seen us repot this very large ace of pearl martin it was in a big nursery pot and at the time we trimmed it down a little bit we took uh it out the big nursery pot we combed the roots out and we bought it into this training box very old tree with a heavy trunk the purpose of these trees for me here at greenwood is them to become stock plants for younger trees and the re the way we do this with these trees is by method called air layering so rather than taking cuttings we’re taking larger sections of the tree off i’ll explain a little bit this one here was a similar tree to this one and a few years ago i’ve been taking sections off this for about two years so if i turn it round this was up here and we’ve reduced it down this little tree here this was an air layer that i took off this tree about two years ago or maybe this was a year ago this one judging by the roots so about a year ago normally i do the air layers here about 20th of may once new growth has come out and hardened off but it’s been a bit late of a season this year and we’ve been quite busy so we’re doing it now at the beginning of june so this tree for instance was kind of on the top here it was the extension of this growth and it was that sort of height and we air layered it at this point it put out roots and we took it off the tree you can see here the photograph of it once i’ve severed it from the tree the amount of root that it had it was then potted up and it’s been growing happily in this just plant pot for just a year or so and it’s already got the makings of a nice tree a good trunk just the starting of some branch structure that we can start to train because this tree here in front of me all i really want is everything below my hand i want the heavy trunk and i want to shape a tree out of this what i don’t want is all this growth above but they’re quite a rare tree and they’re quite they’re not they’re not inexpensive so rather than just cut all this growth off we might as well air layer it have a bit of patience it will delay my styling by a couple of years but a couple of years there’s nothing in bonsai terms and it does help me preserve this tree and also get new trees i can do something with so to do an air layer we’ve got a few different ways we can do it and we’re going to show you a couple of methods today basically the theory is you can see i’ve got a little cable tie on here to remind me where i want to put the air layer i put that on last year just so i don’t forget but the theory is to would to take off a ring of bark around the branch like this and dust it with rooting hormone powder and then to enclose that in some sphagnum moss you can do this in several ways you can create a ball of sphagnum moss and you can wrap it in a polythene bag a carrier bag or freezer bag something like that you can use plant pots and you can split the plant pot and do it that way or you can now get these little kind of our layering modules that you can clamp onto the tree and use these so we’re going to use a couple of different methods for you today so what we need to do with this first important thing you need a very clean sharp knife when you’re doing air layers and best way to do it we found just to use a disposable scalpel craft knife you know buy them the levers are sharp use them a few times and then just dispose of them because it’s a very clean sharp blade a cleaner cut you’ll get better rooting from so you need one of them you need some rooting hormone powder it’s not a bonsai specific product you can buy to all good bonsai centers but you can also get it at your local garden center i use a little bowl and little brush for applying that i’ll show it you later sometimes a little bit of cling film or some sort of plastic shrink wrap is handy for wrapping around the pots around the moss we’ve got some sphagnum moss you can buy it you can know some people like to even go to the extent of buying japanese moss when they’re doing bonsai air layers it’s not really necessary you can buy a normal long fibre sphagnum moss from your garden center this is actually moss that i collected myself from the wild so this has been harvested it’s got a little bit of grass in with it but that doesn’t make any difference it’s good natural fresh sphagnum moss people say moss is expensive and it’s not expensive because that’s cost me nothing so we’ve got some sphagnum moss there soaking so it’s wet and on this large cottage here you can see we’ve already marked on here where we want to put some air layers so we’re looking for a thickness of branch we’re looking for a usable branch that will yield us a nice tree once it is severed from the parent plant so this process can be a bit fiddly so bear with me and we’ll just show you how to do it so with this one here look let me show you a split pot method to start with so take this cable tie off because that’s just a reminder now can you see at this tree this looks like a tree we could make this into a bonsai here um so if we got roots on it it’s about this sort of level it would give us a little bit of trunk before the tree so if i could do it this sort of level would be a good idea so first of all we get a craft knife as we said before and we make an incision we’ll make it around here and we want to make this all the way around the trunk like so and you want to cut reasonably deep you need to cut through the cambium layer so make sure you have a good score all the way around horizontally so it connects up like that and then we do another one here so this is about 20 25 millimeters further down the trunk it can vary depending on the thickness of the trunk that you’re doing so be careful when you do this it’s using a sharp knife just the sort of thing you want to be doing on a video i’ve got day off tomorrow i don’t want to end up in hospital with a with a finger sliced off so be very careful cut it round like that once you’ve done that you want to do a vertical cut between the two and normally on these maples depending there’s a couple of ways you can do it you can sometimes once you’ve done that you can peel this bark off like this and get it put it around the tree a bit difficult with this one because there are a few nodules and buds so it might not peel ever so smooth but you can see there it isn’t too bad look just work it around them and peel it all the way around give it a bit of assistance over here like that and then neaten up these cuts but this top one’s the most important one because this is the one where it’s going to put roots out so what we’re looking at is to cut in here through the cambium layer so that at this point the tree is forced to send roots out it seems a little bit drastic and it often goes against a lot of horticultural practices because you’ll all know that if you get a tree in your garden and you do this to it that you’ve severed the flow of nutrient and water to the top of the tree and it can die off but if you pack this with moss it will sustain but it’s enough of a shock for the tree to think it’s going to die and that causes it to send roots out at this point in order to survive so once we’ve got it cut like that we want to dust that with some rooting hormone powder so normal rooting hormone powder is fine getting it onto that cut is always a little bit difficult so i tend to just put a little bit of it into a bowl and then i use a little little cocoa fiber brush and just dust it around that top that top cut get it up onto that onto that cut surface like that a bit blown away in the wind we’ll get it up there like that so then we’ll put a split pot around here so we’ll get up on a plant pot something this sort of size should suffice if you look at the thickness of the trunk we’ve probably got a 12 mil thickness of the trunk so we’ll just cut would cut down the pot down the side across the base and then we’ll just take a little a little section out around the base of the pot in the middle leaving a little bit of the structure there like that and then what we’re going to do with this is quite simply open it up put it around the tree like so and we’re gonna close it back up again like this so we’re gonna fill that with sphagnum moss now on this tree we can uh we’re gonna fasten it on like that to stop it moving what we could do to get a little bit of wire i want it to sit at about this sort of level i’m just going to put a tiny little bit of wire oh it’s not tiny it’s four mil wire but a piece of wire underneath the pot it’s not to act as a tourniquet it’s just to stop this pot falling down so we’ll just put that there look just to stop that falling like so then we’ll get some thinner wire or you can use cable ties or zip ties if you want and i’m just going to reinstate the top of this pot with a piece of wire just twist it round doesn’t have to look that pretty just to stop that pot open it up so we’ve got it sat on our bit of wire with that piece of wire around the top and then we can get our moss very wet sphagnum moss you want to use and pack it around that cut make sure your tree is in the center and not against the side of the pot and get a good even doesn’t want to be too tight don’t want loads of it wedged in there wants to be having enough air in there so you don’t have to pack it down too much but sufficiently so last year when i did these layering on this cotton we had a 100 success rate i did put them on a couple of weeks earlier than this and i left them on about 10 weeks so we get it up like that filled up with moss now in order to keep this moss moist it will help if we seal this up a little bit to stop it drying out too much tends to be beneficial so that’s quite wet that moss and then we can use some of this shrink wrap we use this when we’re packing trees up to send them out off the website and we can just wrap this round a few times again it’s going to help keep the pot together i’m leaving the drainage holes opening the bottom of the pot and you can completely close the top of it up because obviously you leave it open it does let let’s moisture out what i tend to do is close it up a little bit round here yeah but always leave a little bit of a funnel here so that i can put water in because we are going to have to water that moss to keep it moist while the air layer is on so you can tuck that in like that but you can open it up again to put more moisture into that air layer as we want to so that’s a nice neat split pot method now we’re going to show you another different method okay so last year we put about six of these air layers on this tree on different branches we have a really good yield off them and i always use a split pot method like that you can see it’s quite easy to do but we’re going to try some of these earlier in pods for the first time this year you know i suppose they cost more money than doing a split part they might be easier they might not be easier but we’ll have a go with one i’m going to put it on this section here so there’s lots of little fluffy bits here let’s just rub those off with the fingers yeah and we’re going to try and put it here so these have got a funnel at the top and a shorter like a tail at the bottom so the idea is they’re going to sit in here and the disadvantage with this straight away a lot taller than the pot so they take up more space on the uh on the trunk which isn’t a problem if you’ve got space on the trunk so it’s always best i guess to offer that up first yeah so we’ll probably want to do the cut about here in the middle of that pod so the top cut once we just under that little nodule there so we’ll just remember that and again as we did before make a top cut nice and sharp say a graph a craft knife like this or a grafting knife or a stanley blade is the best way to do this you get more failure with this if you use if you use a knife that isn’t sharp you don’t get a clean cut and it doesn’t root so well so that’s the top one done and then the bottom one all the way around and around the back fingers out the way like that and then if we do the same as before and just score down like that let’s see if we can’t just pick pick that bark away a little bit deeper with that there we go work our way around and remove that this is a little bit tougher on this one there we go we’ve got a nice clean cut there as we had before so we’ll get the uh put some rooting hormone powder up underneath that top that top cut to encourage it to root root out and then with this pod what we’ll do is we’ll fill it with sphagnum moss fairly full like that i think and then we’ll do the other side get a good load of it in there let’s say it wants to be fairly fairly full but not over compressed i think is the way to go with this and then we’ve got the funnel at the top so that’s going to go right here and sit like that against our tree makes a it’s quite wet so it’s dribbling all over the place and then we’ll get this one off it up and this particular one has got corners that you just click together like that and there’s sometimes a bit of a bit of a game to get clicked together that one’s done that’s three out of four that one’s done four out of four and then to secure it a little bit more look we’ve put a little cable tie through these holes there’s a bit of tension on this one at the bottom so if we can put a cable tile like that and then through this one at the top there’s a hole there look so i suppose that’s designed for that to go through like that and this to go through for them to feed back through this side like that and then just take that across there so potentially that’s easier if you haven’t done any air layers before if you’ve if you’ve bought these things you might as well use them i guess we’re we’re going to trial them and see like that so it’s probably not as necessary to wrap this one up but it’s got a it’s got a tighter seal on these sides we’re going to do a few of these like this and we’re going to do a few of these split pot our layers and uh let’s say this is part two of this video so if you haven’t already seen it check out part one a few weeks ago when we actually repotted this tree part two today and then part three will be in about 10 weeks time and hopefully we’ll be removing these from the tree with roots on and we’ll be potting them up like this hope you’ve enjoyed this video please subscribe to our channel and give us a like and hope you’ve enjoyed it thank you very much

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