Aspen air layer


Like Ryan mentioned in the recent aspen repotting video, I also have Aspen in my mind as a top species I’d like for a Bonsai. Fall of 2019 I identified a group of Aspen nearby my home in Pinedale, WY in national forest that have a unique bright orange fall foliage. Talking with some local forest service folks, it’s my understanding this is a genetic variation. I intend on getting a permit to attempt one ore more air layers on this group. I was thinking it could make a really cool bonsai in group styling. This will be my first time both working with Aspen and doing air layering. My plan is to get the air layer started as soon as temperatures at night are consistently above 28 F and then separate late summer/early fall.

I’m going to watch any Mirai videos related to air layering during the next few weeks. I welcome any thoughts or experiences you’ve had on what type of medium/soil to use, container for the air layer itself, timing of starting or separating, etc. especially if it relates to Aspen or the Rocky Mountain region.

Have any thoughts @BackcountryDan?

Hey @C_R_Had,

You might have a difficult time air layering in the wild as as maintaining proper moisture content could prove to be a challenge. You might have better luck collecting a few trees.


Thanks for that suggestion. Definitely important point to consider. The trees I was considering air layering from are just 10 min from home so I could check them fairly regularly easily. I may opt to collect this year then air layer from some of the collected trees within a couple yrs after.

I wouldn’t start the air layer until after the first flush has hardened off. I have no experience air layering an aspen but that being said I have collected them and found they are quite strong. Last year I collected one from the sierras in early June shortly after it had started to leaf out (not the best timing) but the tree never skipped a beat. Potted in 100% pumice and kept it in the shade of a large oak; by July the tree was pushing a second flush and scraping away some pumice revealed a ton of new fine feeder roots.

If you plan on collecting, remember aspen sprout from suckers so they will have large running roots with fine roots coming off those. When collecting, try to expose these roots before you dig and see how close to the trunk you have fine roots. The closer to the trunk you have fine roots the better potential you have to get the tree into a bonsai pot later on.


Thanks for sharing your experience and knowledge! Glad to hear your collected aspen did well.