bonsai tree care

Removing an air layer

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About a year and a half ago, I began an air layer in a Japanese maple (see “Air layers of a Japanese maple”). I checked on the progress of the following winter coat and found that the wound had produced a callus, but has no roots. I opened the wound to stimulate root growth and spring had appeared a few roots (see “air layer Japanese maple – check”).

Last summer I realized roots developing in the bag layer. How did I know roots had grown enough to warrant removing the layer? Just below the trunk bag had begun to die. Instead of waiting until late winter or early spring – good times to remove layers of air – layer separates me a few weeks ago. Here is the basic process.

Japanese maple

Japanese maple – December 2013

dead bark

dieback of the trunk below the layer

air-layer bag

bag layer


After removal of the bag – the moss has turned green

After removal bag used bent-nose pliers to carefully remove the moss between the roots. This process took a long time were a tangled roots.

removing the moss

After removal of some of the mosses

Most of the moss removed

Most Moss removed


moss layer

withdrew me unceremoniously layer leaving behind a version of deciduous tree Charlie Brown Christmas.

After removing the layer

After removal of the layer

The apex

The apex

I was not surprised to see that the trunk below the layer had died completely as the crust had begun to separate from the tree, but this was the first time I had seen a layer completely kill off the wood below.

the cut

The dead trunk

The next step was to coat the pan. The first time I removed part of the deadwood beneath the roots with large root cutters.

Read also:   2013 Virtual Tour of Crataegus Bonsai

Reducing the tunk below the roots

Removing dead wood

Next I added some bonsai soil to the pot and the tree in place. I can usually connect trees in place before adding the soil around the roots, but layers of air, the trees were trees bare root and recently collected, usually will add the soil between the roots before setting tree.

introducing soil into the roots

Adding soil between the roots

using chopsticks to stabilize the trunk.


stick holding the trunk in place

When using chopsticks to stabilize the tree, try to align the two sections closest to a line straight as possible.

stabalizing the trunk with chopsticks

chopsticks front and rear

These sticks help keep the tree from moving front to back. To keep the tree from moving from side to side, I used the cable into the pot to ensure a branch on each side of the tree.


The use of a branch for mooring

using branches to secure the tree to the pot as the roots are too delicate to offer greater stability in this point.

completed layer

newly potted layer

Now that the layer is complete, it occurs to me more in my plan for the future of the tree. The original plan was to put the tree on its side and make another layer to create a multi-trunk bonsai, but I think I’ll wait a year or two before deciding what to do next.

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Removing an air layer

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