Advice on air layering this cherry tree

I’m considering buying this Cherry tree (see below), and air layering it somewhere below the fork on the top-left, as well as possibly some place on the right branch. I’ve never done this before. Do you think this could work and do you think it could turn into a good bonsai? If so, where would you recommend doing the air layering? Then I want to see if I can grow the remainder of the tree back to a full-sized tree for a friend.

There’s also the second one below with a thicker trunk, but less foliage. The trunk also looks less interesting. I personally think the first is better; do you agree?

Sorry, i disagree. Tree #2 looks to have better options.

For tree #1 I’d try an air layer 3-4 inches below the section with leaves near the top. The remainder of the tree has no appeal to me.

Tree # 2 appeals much more; I like the trunk. I would try two air layers: one a few inches below the 1st side branch up and a 2nd a few inches below the next branch up. Give the air layers plenty of time. Remove when they sprout tons of roots
. I suspect you will also get buds that push lower down the trunk. Let them run and you can create a nice shohin starting with the thick trunk as a base.

Interesting. Someone I asked in another community also preferred the second tree. I liked the texture and curves in the first, although I guess with difficulty you could still curve the second tree (I’ve seen a video of someone doing this successfully).

For tree #2, with the lower air layer, would the focus be the branch shooting out to the left? Would you cut the trunk above it or try let it grow more side branches?

For the shohin, would you mean starting with the existing roots? Just cutting the trunk perhaps a couple inches above the bud shooting off to the right?

Do you think this has good potential? I’m about to make final arrangements to purchase the tree.

It is a fun thing to see if you can do… supposed to be easy to do. Mine have always failed, including cherrys. (All unusual circumstances…)
Is the TYPE of ‘cherry tree’ of interest / use for a bonsai? Are the leaves small, is the bark of interest, are the flowers nice, is the fruit the LARGE ones? Are they hardy, not susceptible to fungal issues?
I would stay away from the eating cherry varieties for all of the above reasons.
There ARE non-fruiting flowering cherry trees that would be fit the requirements, although their leaves tend to be huge. Also, they grow real fast.
There are wild cherries with small leaves and fruit.
I have several nice American pie cherry bonsai. Also, something called a ground cherry. Both are knarley , small leaves, and pretty flowers and small fruit. Real hardy down to -20F. Also, flowering plums and apples.
Taking the time to airlayer a questionable tree for Bonsai? Naw… especially if you have NOT purchased yet. Too many other eaiser choices…
Know your enemy like you know yourself, and you have already won. Pick your fights to win…
Bonsai On!

Ok so you think this is a questionable idea. I’d rather hear that than try and fail miserably.

So it’s better for bonsai when the fruit is not edible? Is that because the leaves are typically larger, and tree susceptible to fungus? Other reasons?

Even better if it’s not fruiting at all I presume, because the fruit takes energy from the tree. I’ll keep an eye out for the types you mention.

Thanks for your help, I really appreciate it!

There is no try, only do…
Its not the edible part, but the size compared to the finished tree. Nurseries choose the largest and sweetest cherry for the commercial tree types.
I look for the smaller fruit, especially cherry, plum and crab apple trees. That goes for flower and leaf size, too.
I shoot for bonsai not much bigger than 24". The 1 1/2" fruit on a 12" tree looks out of proportion. My smallest crabapple fruit is about the size of your little finger nail. My pie cherry and ground cherry are not much bigger. All are edible. The crabapples can be used in jellies and sweet pickled… (Winter mice ate all of my fancy Japanese cherry, plums and maples bonsai… Have not found replacements. )
I like to leave some of the fruit (AND assorted cones…) on the trees. SOME fruit doesnt heart health.
Flowers in spring, mini apples in fall. The birds grab the cherries… the cones have seed for next season, Japanese larch and Ponderosa are prolific…
Back to the task at hand. Try a air layer. Several. Try grafting. Repot many trees for several years. Start some seeds and grow ultra small mame size… make forests!
You will learn, and hopefully have fun… I have done all of the above, and made most of the mistakes. Great fun!
Just plan ahead, make informed choices, for better outcome on your trees years from now.
Cheers. Enjoy!

I might have found an apple tree to practice air layering on. Perhaps not the ideal bonsai candidate, but the main goal would be to get practice.

You mention grafting. That’s the technique where you use a rootstock, right? Would you buy or grow your own rootstock?

I’m trying to grow seeds. That was my first approach. Nothing has grown yet. :frowning:

I have a larch forest in planning! Waiting for the trees to arrive next week.

Apples should do for air layering practice. The main reason for AL is to get the larger trunk AND the shallow radial roots.
Grafting is a long winded subject. Read and study. Watch Ryan’s several grafting videos.
Seed grown bonsai is, also, a long winded project… IF you have 20 years… Or, just like smaller bonsai. Also, you can clip n grow. Minimal scars, minimum wire scars.
I just re-potted my 5, 6 yo, Ponderosa. Seed from my Yamadori Ponderosa… 8", with 3 to 5 limbs. Buds everywhere. The needles are almost longer than the tree is tall…
What kind of larch? Your name tag doesn’t say where you are, European larch? American larch are coarser and harder to work with than Japanese. Still real nice.
I have a short 5 tree forest (10"), tall 7 tree forest (30"), and a single 30 inch Japanese larch. Always prettiest , now, in spring. Flowering, too.
I wanted to include a photo of my crabapple. Yes, those are apples…

I also have several potowatomie(?) plumb bonsai, FLOWERS like crazy when young, small red round plumbs, sweet/ sour 1 1/2". None of my collected trees are awake yet. The collected suckers are from a parent tree in full bloome today (It is a 20 yo sucker from a 100 yo tree at parents house.)…

Pick a path and go… My passion might not be yours.
… It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey.

Re: grafting, I found ‘summer waterning + grafting’ and ‘vaneer grafting’. Are there other videos you recommend?

Japanese Larch. Specifically, got 5 of these on their way:
(Aside: I updated my location. I’m in England.)

Your apple tree looks so cool! So they don’t grow any bigger than that? Are they edible?

Re: picking a path, yeah there are so many options it feels like I’m picking them all at this stage…I need to reel myself in and focus. I just find so many fascinating avenues with bonsai, and I there’s no favourite yet. Although I will say, I got oddly excited when my tiny cotoneaster arrived earlier this week. Such tiny, pretty leaves and interesting bark texture.

I found some potential cherry trees I might go for. I’m coming to realise it’s more about the flowers for them.

There are several pine and decideous videos for grafting. Approach (bend a limb, slice, mate cambium layers); thread (make a hole and poke a live approach limb through-- no slicing or mating…the two just magically heal over and to their thing…); and root approach grafting. I have witnessed these, they All work. Some failure rates are higher… Its mostly in the finess of the execution… practice…
I am attempting to do some grafting on a large Japanese Red pine…
The apples in the photo are red and ripe. August… Hard and bitter. That’s all the bigger they get. Blooms like crazy in May, and dozens of fruit. I usually clip off most.
The tree is mostly ugly and doesn’t behave. Looses limbs and dies back… There is a nickle size wound on the main trunk in back. The roots I cut off this repot were circuling and 5 feet long… But its MY tree, for 15 years…
I prefer Japanese cherry and plums for the flowers.The leaves are small, too.
This is my taller J. larch forest, summer 2018… Slightly untidy.

Spend a little more up front for good quality pre-bonsai stock. Saves years of work. Bit of Walter Paul wisdom…

Yes, on tree #2 I’d assume the branch shooting out to the left would be the leader for that air layer. But I’d also leave 1”-2”” of trunk above assuming there are some buds. If they eventually bud out you could choose a different leader if it suits.

For the shohin at the base, it would be the last tree standing and yes, I would rely upon the existing roots and do the chop above several visible buds.

Good luck.