Air Layering A Japanese White Pine

Has anyone air layered a JWP successfully? If so, what technique did you use?

I have a JWP grafted on JBP root stock that I have had for 2 years. When I got it I put it into a pond basket and it has grown extremely well, pushing out lots of buds and new shoots each of the past two years.

Unfortunately the graft junction isn’t the best and there is a big bulge at the first ring of branches. One of our club members suggested to me today that I should air layer the tree at the bulge of the first branch ring. The trunk above that has decent internodes, shape and taper and could be a nice bonsai in the future.

I have read that JWP are difficult to air layer, and I would hate to kill the tree just because of a poor graft and an unsightly bulge.

Any advice would be appreciated.


Hi Bob,
I have not tried air layering pine, although I have heard it is possible.
Other options may be to graft roots, although no one will offer me much info on this, or torniquet the trunk with thick wire and earth it up to let it ground layer.
I also have a JWP with crappy roots, so I will be interested to hear if any senior students have any advice. If not, I will be growing it as a landscape tree.

One condition Ryan says that is necessary for success among others is to have at least one branch BELOW the layering site so that the branch’s foliage can still feed and keep the roots alive.

It is likely you do not have such a branch as this time. You have to graft a branch below the layer site first before attempting the layer. I have never air layered a pine before so l can’t add to that part of the process.

Thanks guys.

David, I haven’t seen Ryan’s comment about having a branch below the layering site, but that does make a lot of sense.

I had a response on another site from someone who has experience air layering Zuisho pine. He didn’t know the variety that I have (Catherine Elizabeth from Iseli… it’s a dwarf JWP), but he suggested that I try air layering a branch to see how that works on my tree. That is what I will try next spring. I have a branch that would be a good candidate.

I’ll see what happens next season. :slight_smile:

Hi @Bob_McCarlie
How did you get on with the air layer?
I put my Pune in the ground.
May try taking some sions for grafting in the autumn.

The air layer didn’t work. I did it in April. However in late June, early July all the needles went brown and dried up. I checked the layer and didn’t see any sign of roots. I reapplied the moss and wrap and left it until a couple of weeks ago. When I scraped the bark off in one spot there was no green, so I cut the branch off.

Oh well, nothing ventured, nothing gained. :slight_smile:

FYI Bob and others, l started an air layer on a pinus strobus with a small apex. Took off a ring of bark. Placed a small plastic nursery pot around the cut sight, Filled with akadama and then covered the top with sphagnum moss. Air layer is still green. Crossing my fingers…l’ll add a pix tomorrow. Too dark now just before midnight.

Here is photo of the air layer. l air layered the tree about a month ago.

Another photo.

I hope you have better luck than I did. I’ve tried two air layers, one on a Japanese Maple and one on the JWP. Both failed for me. I guess I don’t have the right touch! lol


How did you do the Japanese maple air layer? Go back and review your approach in light of Ryan’s air layering stream. YOU WILL SUCCEED.

My approach on the maple was pretty standard. 1.5 in gap, scraped so no green was showing. Dusted with hard wood rooting hormone, wrapped in several inches of wet sphagnum, using saran wrap, then covered with tinfoil. Checked every couple of weeks for moisture. After 3 months no root growth, and the leaves had all gone dry and brown.

When I was Boy Scout the only badge I failed was Grafting. I suspect that failure still lingers today. :frowning:

Sounds like you did the right things. Did the saran wrap ever break? How big of a ball of sphagnum moss did you use? l have heard too much can stay too wet longer and inhibit root growth. Amount depends on size of layered tree but perhaps an inch thickness around the trunk. Alternatively, you could try what Ryan does and fit a little plastic nursery pot around the layer and fill with akadama…next year.

The branch, was about 1 in thick. The moss ball was roughly 3-4" around and been thoroughly soaked, then squeezed until the excess water was gone. The wrap didn’t break. I used a plastic syringe to inject water into the moss from time to time.

You seemed to have done the right things. For clarity, did you say the foliage above the air layer died? How much scraping did you do? Just the cambium layer or also the xylem? And how deep? ln any case, try again next year after new leaves harden.