Everything About Cultivating Bonsai Trees From Air Layers

In Japanese: "Toriki" - A slightly more advanced technique for propagating bonsai is the air layer.

The concept of stratification forces a tree or branch to form new roots at a certain point, interrupting the flow of nutrients from the existing root system.

This means that you can use air layers for a variety of purposes; reduce the length of a trunk, grow a better Nebari (broadening of roots or shallow roots), or select a branch to grow as a separate tree.

Air stratification should always be done during the spring when the tree has already started to grow after the winter break.

How to aerate a bonsai?

There are two main techniques for creating a layer of air on a tree; the tourniquet method and the ring method.

The tourniquet method involves tightly wrapping the trunk/branch with copper wire to partially block the flow of nutrients.

When the trunk/branch thickens, the nutrient flow slows, forcing it to develop new roots just above the wire.

This method is used for very slow-growing trees that need more time to establish new roots; these will not survive the more aggressive ring method.

Tree species suitable for the tourniquet method include maple, juniper, pine, azalea, and elm.

The ring method involves cutting a ring of bark at the point on the trunk/branch where you would like new roots to grow.

The part above the ring will have to take root immediately to survive. The ring should be wide enough to prevent the tree from bridging.

Tree species suitable for the ring method include maples, junipers, privets, boxwood, and azaleas.

The tourniquet method

Step#1: Wrap a piece of copper wire around the trunk/branch just where you want new roots to grow.

Step#2: The wire should cut about half of the shell; the thicker the trunk/branch, the thicker the wire should be.

Step#3: Sprinkle some rooting hormone (available at Bonsai stores) around the "wound" and now wrap a good amount of sphagnum moss around the wound, covering it with some plastic.

The ring method

Step#1: Use a sharp knife to cut two parallel grooves around the circumference of the branch (leave enough space between the two grooves, at least once the diameter of the branch).

Step#2: Now remove the ring of bark between these two cuts until you get the 'shiny' wood.

Step#3: Make sure the ring is wide enough that the tree cannot cover the wound; also make sure you have removed the bark down to the hardwood; the tree won't start to take root unless you have no other choice.

Step#4: Sprinkle some rooting hormone (available at Bonsai stores) around the 'wound' and now wrap a good amount of sphagnum moss around the wound, covering it completely with plastic.

And then? Aftercare

The moss must be kept moist at all times. After about one to three months, the roots should grow into moss.

When the bag is full of new roots, carefully cut the layer just below the new roots.

Do not try to remove the moss or separate the roots; simply plant the entire package without disturbing it in a standard Bonsai soil mix.

Keep the tree protected from low temperatures and wind; a stove or cold frame can be of great help. Leave the tree intact until next spring, when it can be trained for the first time.

Small amounts of fertilizer can be used during the first summer.

We hope you enjoy watching this video about Air Layering Bonsai Tutorial EASY:

Source: Herons Bonsai

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