Good idea to airlayer this Ulmus Procera?

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Good idea to airlayer this Ulmus Procera?

Post  Guest on Tue Oct 16, 2012 8:19 pm

I have a love-hate relationship with this one...

it has been mine since fall 2007, i made a stick out of it in 2008 (because the 2007 version was even worse), and built it up since then.

but the roots and nebari, ew i always want to repot it as fast as possible so those horrific roots are out of sight again for another 1 or 2 years.

Since its not really a bad tree above the roots, and since i allready put some work into it, I am now thinking of airlayering it in 2013 just above the present nebari. I assume this U.Procera will not really pose a problem for airlayering? I know the technique but never done it on a Procera. Question: would you guys field grow it for 1 or 2 years to thicken the main roots i would select after the airlayer has succeeded? I would hate to wait 10 years for a pencil thick root, just because I put it in a bonsaipot/trainingpot.

Here some pics, latest one as it was in summer 2012.


the tree in 2008


the tree in 2010


2012 repot - ewwww those roots


2012 - more 'ewy' roots


early summer 2012







Last edited by yves71277 on Tue Oct 16, 2012 8:26 pm; edited 2 times in total (Reason for editing : forgot the pics)

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Re: Good idea to airlayer this Ulmus Procera?

Post  marcus watts on Tue Oct 16, 2012 8:54 pm

simple, raffia them and wire them to the angles you want - the top is coming on really well, why set the bottom back to day one?

the air layered spoked roots will look just as bad for 6-8 years so i'd concentrate on improving what you have

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Re: Good idea to airlayer this Ulmus Procera?

Post  BonsaiJim on Tue Oct 16, 2012 10:45 pm

You could tie them to a piece of wood and bury the whole mess in an oversized pot and let the tree grow wild for a bit. Besides the root issues you have a lack of significant taper. All your branches are basically the same size. This approach might solve a multitude of issues.

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Re: Good idea to airlayer this Ulmus Procera?

Post  Guest on Wed Oct 17, 2012 9:03 am

marcus watts wrote:simple, raffia them and wire them to the angles you want - the top is coming on really well, why set the bottom back to day one?

the air layered spoked roots will look just as bad for 6-8 years so i'd concentrate on improving what you have

Thank you Marcus, thats worth considering but i've always thought these roots were too rigid to be bent, i mean in the direction they should grow to make a good nebari. I know the rootsystem and its hard to know for you guys how there roots are positioned exactly:
- the one on the left, this one CAN be wired but if i wire it into a more straight root (not 100% straight), it will be positioned further to the back so there wouldnt be any more strong roots to stabilise the tree in the substrate right there where the root is now, you can see that empty space in the repotting picture. The trunk at that point curls a bit inwards into the ground, its awkward.
- the root at the back, starts on the left back side, curls up behind the trunk, and dives into the ground on the right back side, awkward again. Its impossible to get that root from behind the trunk without cracking it.
- the root of the front right, well wiring could help a bit...but only a bit
- so these are the main roots that stabilise the tree too, and they are all awkwardly positioned. i dont see a simple solution with raffia, the one on the back (that supports 1/3 of the total root mass) would easily crack off entirely.

I'll consider wiring where i can though

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Re: Good idea to airlayer this Ulmus Procera?

Post  Guest on Wed Oct 17, 2012 9:21 am

BonsaiJim wrote:You could tie them to a piece of wood and bury the whole mess in an oversized pot and let the tree grow wild for a bit. Besides the root issues you have a lack of significant taper. All your branches are basically the same size. This approach might solve a multitude of issues.

Hello Jim and thanks for the reply,
possible solution.

About the branches, yes thats true but i'm still building it, you can see the oldest branch (besides the stumps i left in 2008) is only 4 seasons old. I know i will have to prune back in the coming years, to build better taper. Thats a process that will take more than a few years, I wanted it to grow for just a few years first and see to the other problems i noticed and i thought were bigger issues.
You should have seen the 2007 version of this tree, now that was a broomstick of fine twiggies all from 1 season Very Happy

You can also see that the branches are not really wired into position, its a bit of a 'natural' mess. I like the combination of bit of naturel mess with some hint of a good but simple structure. I think the taper will come automatically with the years, because if I dont prune back and rebuild, the tree will grow out of proportion anyway. Maybe every 5 years will be a good time to think about taper in branches and rebuild things.

but you're right, maybe i'll make this one a project again, put it in a wide and low container, let it grow a season (or 2) with sacrifice branches, and prune back after that. I could airlayer it the same time i plant it into this container, keeping most of the actual rootsystem and putting the airlayer in a small container thats just placed on top of the top soil.

I'll see

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Re: Good idea to airlayer this Ulmus Procera?

Post  bwaynef on Wed Oct 17, 2012 1:42 pm

I have no experience with that species, but I've layered elms before and they respond beautifully! I contend that there is no reason to suffer through poor nebari on Elms or Maples, since they layer so well and easily. I've been cautioned against letting an elm grow wild when the (main) roots are still young for fear of over-thickening as Elms are want to do. I'd layer it and keep it in a(n oversized?) pot for a few years instead of field growing it after the layer.

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Re: Good idea to airlayer this Ulmus Procera?

Post  BonsaiJim on Wed Oct 17, 2012 2:25 pm

I don't think the roots are terrible- there are improvements that can be made- a little every year or so... airlayering is just going to give you a decade of wagon wheel spokes to look at... and even at the end the result is usually characterless IMO. In addition to my other comments, consider nicking the base at points where roots are needed, slathering with hormone and packing with spaghnum moss or fine sand and repotting into a pot or box where the roots can stretch out a bit.

Your branching isn't terrible it just exhibits the effects of a complete cut back; if you want decent proportions on your lower branches you really have to let them grow crazy for a while (2'-6' for some periods) wack them back and repeat... while keeping your uppers controlled. This free growth will also help immensely in healing the scars.

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Re: Good idea to airlayer this Ulmus Procera?

Post  JudyB on Wed Oct 17, 2012 4:28 pm

I agree that the roots are not so horrible as to air layer. I would try a couple of things to better them, a combination of wiring where you can, lowering it in the pot a bit, and doing spagnum moss on the top to work on better surface roots off the main roots. I think either nicking with rooting hormone, or grafting for roots in the open spots will help this as well. The knobs at the base will probably be an interesting feature in time.

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Re: Good idea to airlayer this Ulmus Procera?

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