January 2023 meeting – Air layering

The first meeting of the year started with a talk from Brian MacKichan on air layering techniques and re-potting.

Air layering can be used to create a new root system if the current one is unsuitable for bonsai, or to produce new trees from larger material. Brian spoke about commonly used air layering techniques and the best time to carry out the process. He demonstrated his preferred technique, the ring bark method, on a flowering apricot. The process involves removing approximately an inch length of bark including the cambium layer, covering with a generous amount of damp sphagnum moss and then wrapping in a polythene bag secured at the top and bottom with a piece of wire. A good tip was to use a clear polythene bag first and then a darker bag covering that to make it easier to check for root formation.

He then went on to talk about the tourniquet method, which had not worked successfully on one of his beech trees. This involves securing a wire tightly around the trunk to prevent sap flow and encourage roots to form above the wire.

Re-potting of trees was then explained and demonstrated with a blackthorn tree.

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