I started an air layer last May on a cryptomeria shoot. I saw a few roots peeking through the plastic after a couple of months, but I didn’t know how many more roots were hidden within the moss. Figuring that too many roots is preferable to too few roots, I decided to remove the layer the following spring.
Turns out I needn’t have waited so long. Cryptomeria roots grow quickly, and it’s possible that I had enough roots to keep the layer alive last fall. The lesson – check the roots sooner rather than layer. I plan to check the layer I started last weekend at several points along the way this year to see how fast the roots actually develop.
Removing the layer is a simple process. I removed the shoot below this past March. The plastic has begun to erode and there were plenty of new roots.
Cryptomeria – March 2011
The plastic has had enough
Removing the plastic revealed a few roots, but I still didn’t know what was going on inside the bundle of moss.
It was difficult to remove the moss without damaging the new roots – and not because the new roots were weak. The new roots were woody and stiff, trapping the long strands of sphagnum moss that grew between them.
The new roots were more than adequate for keeping the layer alive.
I also found that new roots didn’t just appear where I’d removed a strip of bark last year. They pretty much appeared wherever there was moss. To remedy this, I’ll do plenty of root work next year when the time comes to repot.
As you can see in the photo below, I left a long stub below the roots to help stabilize the layer in the pot. I trimmed it so the tree would sit at the proper level in the new pot.
New roots with stub
I won’t know the best time to remove similar layers without more experience. I expect to learn a lot when I repot this tree next year, and I look forward to watching this year’s layer throughout the growing season.
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