Air Layering - why not just cut off the branch?

I recently flubbed a maple yamadori collection which ended with no rootball. So, thinking on my feet, I created an air layer at the bottom of the tree just above where the roots should have started. Is there a reason we do not just cut the branch off under the air layering and place in a pot filled with sphagnum moss? Are there advantages to keeping the branch attached to the main tree?


It depends on the species and situtation. Some can root from cuttings, but other need the air layering process to keep them alive while they grow new roots.

But doesn’t cutting into the hardwood of the tree trunk completely cut it off from the resources of the main tree? What could be the benefit of keeping it attached, assuming it is prepared in the same way as an air layering (bag, sphagnum moss, etc)?

No it does not, not completely anyway. With a proper air layer you remove the phloem and cambium, but keep the xylem.

That way water and nutrients can still go up from the roots, but sugars and starches are blocked on the way back down (and produce new roots where they are stopped).


Ah! I see. Thank you for the clarification. That makes much more sense.

Watch this video, this should help with info on air layering.

I think you guys ar mixing two things that are not really the same. Cutting are made from small pieces of this years growth in the early fall. An air layer can be made on a large branch or even a full trunk. In the spring and removed in the fall or even years later. When making a cutting you sever the branch from the tree. Then it to grow roots to suport the foliage. When you make an air layer you are only cutting the supply of sugar from the leaves to the roots. The roots continue to supply water, oxygen, and nutrients to the leaves. Overtime those leaves have nowhere to send the sugars they are producing so they build a new root system. When it has developed you cut it of the old root system.

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Some species (very few) can sprout from trunk cuttings. But otherwise yeah we are in agreement here.

Thanks for the info. That is very helpful. I was clearly mistaken that we were supposed to cut all the way into the deadwood. I will not make that mistake again…