Kinda just kidding, but kinda serious. I was initially just going to air layer my boxwood, which had nasty inverse taper at the base. But then something took over my brain and I ended up air layering 2 other trees whose bases I resented daily: one of those mass-produced chinese elms and a trident maple with a very lopsided nebari.
I followed the technique as prescribed by Ryan at Mirai. I made the cuts as clean as I could (using a boxcutter with new blades), scraped away more bark than I felt comfortable, tightened a large wire around the top of the layer, and filled the container with fresh akadama+pumice+lava soil, letting it dry for about a day before watering.
What Ryan didn’t explain was what care looks like after that.
I assume I water the air layer reservoir throughly whenever the main pot needs watering?
Do I fertilize the top container? bottom? both? neither?
Should I hold off on any more pruning this season?
Should I check after a few months, or just wait until next February?
What is the optimal relationship of root conditions & foliage growth before deciding to air layer? (I didn’t really think this through before just jumping way into the deep end).
The boxwood was freshly repotted by someone else this spring and has been growing decently strong. I don’t know that it’s vigorous, but it looked healthy enough, and the base was driving me nuts.
The elm had a modest root system in plain soil when I bought it last year, so was repotted this spring and has been growing what I consider to be vigorously. Also hated the tube-like trunk and lack of nebari.
The maple had been growing vigorously. I partially defoliated it after the first flush hardened and it has responded pretty well. I realized in May that the maple was potbound, so I slipped it into a bigger container, planning to repot it next year. It had a good-ish nebari on one side, but a negative nebari on the other. See photos. I could have approach-grafted to fix that, but as noted above, I got a little air-layer-happy and just went for it.
Here’s what they look like now:
The pots may seem large, but again, I basically just followed Ryan’s lead here in making sure the top of the layer was around the middle of the reservoir.
Here’s the elm layer:
Here’s the maple layer:
You can see the weird missing half of nebari in those photos. The second photo shows how I actually layered off some of the nebari. Was that a reasonable approach? Was that layer large enough? (I guess we’ll find out, huh?)
I didn’t get a photo of the boxwood air layer, but here’s a photo of what I was trying to fix and the angle I was aiming for:
Any thoughts on the quality of my very amateur judgement or on what I’ve gotten myself into?