Growing Free Trees Without Seeds
As a Bonsai enthusiast, I am always on the lookout for tree specimens which can be adapted into Bonsai. This article outlines simple techniques to propagate and grow additional trees from existing grown stock. The process is called “Air Layering” and needs only simple tools and supplies to execute and perpetuate new plant growth. The tree used for this project is a silver Birch.
8 Steps to Creating & Growing a Tree from an Existing Donor
- Examine tree limbs on donor trees with an eye to seeing a tree within a tree. It should possess a trunk with two lower limbs which look like outstretched arms inviting you into its own world. Above that a small variety of secondary branches. If it looks like a separate tree attached to the main tree, you found your new specimen.
- Decide on the size of the new tree and with a sharp knife (like a razor box cutter) make two cuts approx. 6 cm. apart around the circumference of the new trunk and one vertically between the first two cuts.
- Peel away the band of bark and scrape away all traces of the cambium layer. The function of the cambium layer is outlined in section 3, secondary growth page 4 of 6 of the curriculum book, Soils, and Plant growth U of G.
- Cut a strip of plastic wrap 24cm long and 16cm wide and tie it tightly 10cm below the bottom cut. Overlap the wrap by 5cm.
- Fill the new plastic pocket with moist Sphagnum moss and tie loosely at the top (so water can flow in from rain) creating a moss ball around the wound. Inspect weekly until the new roots are visible. Roots will grow outward and down into the bag as seen from this picture from another A. L. of mine.
- Once the roots are visibly turning brown sever the branch below the ball.
- Carefully remove the plastic placing the moss ball into a suitable container with a free-flowing medium (soil). DO NOT fertilize yet.
- Fertilize moderately after 6 weeks with a low Nitrogen slow release product like a 0-10-10 to stimulate root growth and increase plant strength for growth.
Enjoy your new Tree.
References and Acknowledgements
- Growing and displaying Bonsai – Collin Lewis – 1993, Whitecap Books
- Bonsai Masterclass – Peter Chan 1987, Sterling Publishing Co. Inc.
- The Bonsai Workshop – Herb L. Gustafson 1994, Sterling Publishing Co. Inc.
- Soils and Plant Growth, University of Guelph Extension program, Unit 3 subsection Secondary Growth (Paragraph 2)
- The Bonsai Nut- The Science of Air Layering https://www.bonsainut.com/threads/the-science-of-air-layering.27034/?fbclid=IwAR2u7a0sWIj2XRcq_B5uHYyr9loycrrjLNgeOz7lkJ7zTXv36PzKvrYHJ9Y