Ume Air-Layer’able? Also, is it okay to cut back in October?


Just read Jonas’ old ‘Summer Prune - Ume’ blog post from 2009. So I think he, or maybe others here, might be experienced w Ume.

I have 2 in-ground garden Ume. Both young bare-root whips just planted last winter (Note: I chopped the trunks to around 24-28” before planting… for a smaller garden tree and also to stimulate branching).
One of them is super vigorous and sent out +6’ long shoots during the summer, and it even also started secondary-branches already from those new shoots, 1-2’ long. Wow.
(Pics attached, before & after cutback)

I left those long shoots alone for the entire summer and late summer and also September (to collect/allocate energy for next spring)… but, I was impatient, also worried any adventitious-buds lower on the shoots might die off (in favor of higher buds), so I cut back all those long 6’ shoots down to 18-21” last week (I know it’s nothing like a drastic super short cutback like for a shohin bonsai, lol… but, I still want to build a liiiittle/sliiiight taper and ramification…but still kept as a garden tree… just a smaller garden tree though. As I don’t want it to have straight, leggy/lanky, and same-thickness main scaffold-branches in the future… I prefer the up&down&up&down “dragons back” branch form).

I guess I did this to force energy on the buds lower on the shoots.
I was really planning to do this cut-back next spring after flowering (as suggested by most); but I guess I was impatient and got carried away when I was planning to only just lightly prune it last week (for a slightly smaller and cleaner silhouette to show flowers). Oh well…I guess I’ll have a much smaller flower display next spring, lol.

Was this October cutback detrimental or inadvisable?
I assume, not much? Because it’s already fall? And it’s only cutback on leafy green-wood and from this-years wood?

I’m in SoCal, zone 10b
There’s still a few months left of autumn here, so I know leaving it alone would’ve been more beneficial for energy collection; but I was also scared the lower buds would die off.

Lastly, are Ume Air-layer’able?
I’ve read Peter’s old Ume blog post that said it’s almost impossible to air-layer. Is that true?

Any help appreciated.


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Welcome, Ume are notably difficult to propagate from cuttings, so i would assume that airlayering is difficult as well. I have propagated Ume from cuttings but the success rate is low and the conditions must be just right!
As for detrimental to prune back a lot in October, this is of course dependant on your weather to a certain extent. Southern California being warmer is a help. However, the benefit of the full growing season in the spring would be much more beneficial for healing and there would likely be less die back at the sites. This would also be dependant on whether you sealed the pruning cuts. Sealing the cuts would help prevent disease or pest issues developing as well as preventing excessive die back. Ume are very susceptible to fungal issues.
Ume is a very vigorous plant in the ground so i am sure they will do well in the landscape. The various types and cultivars respond quite differently!
Good Luck with your Ume!

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Since the tree is in the ground, I expect it will respond well to the somewhat early pruning. Even if it does produce some new growth this fall, I don’t know that winter is cold enough to knock down all of the new growth.

Do you have an idea when the tree typically loses its leaves?

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Yeah… it doesn’t freeze/snow here in my area during the winter.

It’s my first year of having the Ume, so I’m not sure yet when it usually drops its’ leaves here. But, they are still green and still intact atm.

The Ume will lose leaves at various times depending on the specific cultivar. Some of the cultivars are more sensitive than others! My " Kobai" are still holding dark green leaves, whereas the " Matsura" lost their leaves weeks ago. The growth pattern is also very different for the cultivars.
Do you know which " Ume" you have? What was printed on the tag?

Yeah, I’ve noticed the growth b/n my 2 Ume is vastly different. The one in my OP is a White Ume. Attached pic in this post is a Pink Ume.

They both were bought and planted at the same time (also both planted next to a south facing wall, so same amount of sunlight) …but as you can see, the white one grew huuuuuge this year, and the pink one only grew short skinny shoots, 1.5-2’ long at most. But I admit, when received, the Pink Ume had a skinnier trunk and also a much smaller root-mass.

But, my skinny and smaller Pink Ume started extending 1 new tip/growth recently, because autumn has come I guess. So, I believe it’s healthy too if it’s putting on new growth (though small growth… maybe only 6-10" so far for that 1 aforesaid branch tip).

As far as cultivar… unfortunately I don’t know the exact variety… I bought them from Trees of Antiquity. I emailed them if they could find the origins and exact cultivar; but, I never heard back from them. All I know is that I got generic names - “white ume” and “pink ume” , oh well, lol.