Mid/Late Summer Air Layer or Chop

I’ve searched for other topics on air layer, and none of them seem to be quite what I’m interested in, except for this one from @MrJesseStrong almost 3 months ago (Hail Mary Air Layer). @MrJesseStrong, I’m curious if your air layer is still going, or if you’ve checked it recently.

Anyway, today I came across three trees that are all a bit precarious. One of them could be easily reached to air layer, while the other two would likely need to be just chopped, planted, and hope for the best. They are all deciduous, although I don’t know the species because I didn’t have much time to investigate. The reason I’m curious about an air layer right now is that the one most prone to air layering is also on the brink of breaking and/or not making it through winter, as it’s a section of a mostly-downed, but still alive and stable, tree. So, I wonder if anyone would have anything to say about air layering this late in the season. I know it’s not a good idea, but if the tree section is likely to not be there in the spring, is it worth trying? Can I possibly expect it to work?

As a side note, last fall I took some recently pruned large branches from some sycamore trees, split the base of the branches to encourage root growth, and just planted them in soil as an experiment. I expected nothing, and had nothing to lose since they were pruning junk anyway. However, one of them actually sprang to life this spring, and is still going. So, I’m wondering if this crude and last-minute technique could maybe be applied again in these new cases, if need be, or if I literally just had dumb luck.

Any suggestions would be helpful. I’m in zone 7A, by the way.

Thank you

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I think all advise will be that it is too late but if you’re so certain it will not make it though winter you’ll not loose much in trying. I have two corkscrew willows that started as branch sections of a felled tree last fall and rooted in water (overwintered in my cold frame greenhouse), were planted in bonsai containers this spring and are going strong. I think there are some species that are prone to easily root no matter what and others that will not. So depending on the species you may get lucky.

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Maybe if you give the tree everything it needs to survive through the winter, and maybe make its environment warmer, it might survive. Just like what Raffi said, if you think it might not survive through the winter, no harm trying.
Maybe you could wrap the air layer with a heat mat?

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Thanks to you both. I was actually considering doing some kind of wrap on the air layer to protect from frost. Maybe I will do so. I’ll do some more investigation on these tomorrow. So, @rafi, you simply cut those branches off and put them in water? Sounds like what I did with the sycamore, except I put them in garden soil and left them outside all winter. So, not exactly the same. How large were your branch sections, and did they have any foliage on them when you did this? Were they more like cuttings instead of significant branches? These sections I’m considering are large and have foliage. I figure maybe if I just cut them off and plant I may get lucky enough to have the foliage stimulate root growth in late summer and fall. Maybe that’s wishful thinking.

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Foil-lined bubble wrap, like the ones in lunch bags.

Perfect. That is certainly doable. Thanks

They were bare thick sections of branches that I chose for the movement. One around 5 cm (2") and the other around 7.5cm (3") diameter stumps.

Willows are infamous for being easily rooted.

My knowledge from Mirai leads me to believe that if you have a significant amount of foliage that it might work due to being near Fall. The tree being deciduous would move a ton of water and that might aid in the quick formation of roots. As Ryan has stated “You can execute a technique at almost any time if your technique is flawless.”

I believe you should try it for sure. Taking a full cutting might not work near as well.

@rafi, those are cool. I really like the twist in the second one. Unfortunately, these trees are not willows. I’ve done more investigating today. It seems the two in question are some type of maple, but I can’t identify either. Any idea how this might work with maples? I don’t know how they would do with rooting from a large branch section, or a straight chop from a trunk (truncheon). I have no maple experience. I’ve attached photos. Any ideas? I’m not a maple expert, but I’ve been comparing to every maple leaf I can find. Nothing seems perfect. If maples could possibly work with the method of chop and place in water or soil, right now, and protected over winter from frost, I think I’ll give it a shot on both. Both will have foliage when chopped, but I don’t really expect that to help or last.

The third tree is a black cherry, and that will be air layered. @Nate_Andersen, I totally agree with your knowledge from Mirai. Mirai has given me the same, and I feel the same way. I would never go so far as to consider my technique “flawless”, but I am confident in my ability to air layer. I think I will air layer it in the next few days. I hope it makes it through. The challenge will then be deciding when to remove…

Thanks. Any further info would be fantastic. I appreciate it.

Sorry to take this back to the top of topics, but can anyone help identify these leaves? Trying to decide on a course of action for potential air layering.


It might be a red maple. Used bixby vision

@ThienXiang, yes I had that thought. But it doesn’t quite look like the same leaf as red maple. But it does seem like the closest possibility.

Might be Liquidambar…Sweet Gum

@vicn1502, thanks. Could be, but I don’t know if the leaves really look quite that similar. I’ll do some more research. Thanks for the suggestion.

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The first set of leaves next spring will be the best to help you id your tree.
Just curious. Were you spraying the foliage? Foliar feeding insecticide or fungicide? Full sun or morning sun? Humidity tray? These could affect your leaf’s morphology. This is what a master gardener told me when i was needing help identifying a tree that just grew on my yard.

@ThienXiang, this tree is still in a wooded area near my house. Yamadori. So, I have not treated it with anything. Actually, just discovered it about two weeks ago. But, I think your idea of trying again in spring to identify may be best. For both of the trees, as these leaves are from two different trees in the same area. I will let this mystery alone for now, and see what comes in spring. Thank you for the suggestions.

You are welcome. Do you live in eastern US?

@ThienXiang, yes. Maryland. Too hot here to do much of anything at the moment. Already waiting for spring.