How and when to Air Layer a live oak?

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How and when to Air Layer a live oak?

Post  PeacefulAres on Sat Nov 24, 2012 1:05 am

I'm looking forward to collecting a lot of material this year, and one of the trees I am most looking forward to collecting would be the live oak. If you live in the SE US, you probably understand why. I have read on many occasions that live oaks are difficult to collect, and that the best option is to air layer one. Luckily, I have access to a tree, from which I could take several large air layers. The problem is, I'm not really sure when would be the best time to make the layers, or what would be the proper procedure.

I've read conflicting opinions about when to collect oaks. Some say spring and others say fall/winter. If I made the layers now, I might be able to collect them in spring, but if I made them in spring, I could collect them next fall(or potentially spring 2014). I'm not sure what is the best option. The second issue would be how to make the air layers themselves. I know the basic procedures, but to get a thick trunk, I would have to make the cuts at least 7+ feet back from the ends of the branches. Would it be best to make the layers, and then cut of the excess material once I have formed enough roots? Or should the excess be cut off beforehand?

Any information would be appreciated.

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Re: How and when to Air Layer a live oak?

Post  Billy M. Rhodes on Sat Nov 24, 2012 1:30 am

The Sothern Live Oak, Quericus virginiana (sp) is not an ideal bonsai subject, and is best grown from seed.

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Re: How and when to Air Layer a live oak?

Post  PeacefulAres on Sat Nov 24, 2012 1:44 am

Billy M. Rhodes wrote:The Sothern Live Oak, Quericus virginiana (sp) is not an ideal bonsai subject, and is best grown from seed.

Alright. That's a bit frustrating to hear. Are there any oaks native to Florida which may be better suited to bonsai?

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Re: How and when to Air Layer a live oak?

Post  milehigh_7 on Sat Nov 24, 2012 7:45 am

You'll want to head on over to bonsainut.com and search for Jay Wilson. He does some amazing things with FL oaks.

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Re: How and when to Air Layer a live oak?

Post  Zach Smith on Sat Nov 24, 2012 2:50 pm

PeacefulAres wrote:I'm looking forward to collecting a lot of material this year, and one of the trees I am most looking forward to collecting would be the live oak. If you live in the SE US, you probably understand why. I have read on many occasions that live oaks are difficult to collect, and that the best option is to air layer one. Luckily, I have access to a tree, from which I could take several large air layers. The problem is, I'm not really sure when would be the best time to make the layers, or what would be the proper procedure.

I've read conflicting opinions about when to collect oaks. Some say spring and others say fall/winter. If I made the layers now, I might be able to collect them in spring, but if I made them in spring, I could collect them next fall(or potentially spring 2014). I'm not sure what is the best option. The second issue would be how to make the air layers themselves. I know the basic procedures, but to get a thick trunk, I would have to make the cuts at least 7+ feet back from the ends of the branches. Would it be best to make the layers, and then cut of the excess material once I have formed enough roots? Or should the excess be cut off beforehand?

Any information would be appreciated.
I would suggest starting the layers a few weeks prior to budburst. The roots should be active at that time (meaning the tree wants to make roots at that time). Depending on when you get a nice flush of roots, you could go ahead and separate in late summer. If your winters are not too harsh, you could conceivably overwinter and separate the next spring after the first flush of foliar growth.

I have to disagree with the opinion that live oak is not an ideal bonsai subject. I have seen many outstanding examples. They take very well to pot culture, grow all year long, the leaves reduce well and they look just spectacular once far enough along. For sure they can be grown from seed, I'm working on a bunch, but starting with nursery stocks also appears to be a very good way to go.

Good luck!

Zach

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Re: How and when to Air Layer a live oak?

Post  Guest on Sat Nov 24, 2012 7:25 pm

To my knowledge (and that of several books and sites), oaks are not suitable for airlayering. For Europe that must be true since i dont know of any (nor heard of any) succesful airlayers with the species we have here. Maybe on some oak species that live in a warmer/wetter climate (like south of france or meditteranean, or perhaps some USA species) it is possible, although i dont recall hearing or seeing any example.

Folks who have a succesful airlayerd oak, and can prove it from pictures, please post, would be interesting.

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Re: How and when to Air Layer a live oak?

Post  milehigh_7 on Sun Nov 25, 2012 12:55 am

Air Layering, cuttings and other asexual propagation is not very easy with oaks according to Dirr and Hauser. There are however ways to get them. This was a clearance find that came in a 15 gal can at my local landscape nursery. Not bad for $15.



I have just stared training it but it should be pretty nice in a few years.

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Re: How and when to Air Layer a live oak?

Post  drgonzo on Sun Nov 25, 2012 1:17 am

yves71277 wrote:
Folks who have a succesful airlayerd oak, and can prove it from pictures, please post, would be interesting.

I currently have a successful layer of a white Oak. This was my second attempt and I still can't sever the layer until next year (I hope) as they are quite slow to grow out roots but I did learn something important from my first attempts that I'll share.

Oak has lateral grooves in the xylem tissue. Once you cut away the phloem and your scraping the cambium away make sure to take the tip of you knife and really get into all the little channels that are running lengthwise from bottom to top and get all the cambium cells out of them. Your knife edge will tend to ride above these depressions and will leave bridging tissue in place unless this is all carefully removed by using the knife tip. Even with that check the thing a month later and see If you missed any.

I discovered this last year when i went to check on my first Oak layer and the callus had regrown over the wound in radial stripes!

This year I was more careful, I set the layer with good orchid moss, I had callus in about a month and one inch long roots a month later. I'd show you a pic but its still just a bundled wrap around a branch as I need to give it another season of root growth.

It's a pain to be sure, they don't layer easily but for me its been a labor of love and a horticultural challenge that I refused to give up on. Is Q. virginiana different and maybe easier the Q. alba to layer...I sure hope so.

-Jay

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Re: How and when to Air Layer a live oak?

Post  leatherback on Sun Nov 25, 2012 8:41 am

drgonzo wrote:
Oak has lateral grooves in the xylem tissue. Once you cut away the phloem and your scraping the cambium away make sure to take the tip of you knife and really get into all the little channels that are running lengthwise from bottom to top and get all the cambium cells out of them. Your knife edge will tend to ride above these depressions and will leave bridging tissue in place unless this is all carefully removed by using the knife tip. Even with that check the thing a month later and see If you missed any.
I have been reading reports of people using alcohol swaps to kill off any remaining cambium cells after debarking. Have you tried this?

drgonzo wrote:
This year I was more careful, I set the layer with good orchid moss, I had callus in about a month and one inch long roots a month later. I'd show you a pic but its still just a bundled wrap around a branch as I need to give it another season of root growth.

I was wondering.. Would it make sense to pot it up in late winter, as spring approaches and put it on a warm surface so to force it to root out more heavily when the buds break? Bascially the same strategy used when taking hardwood {winter} cuttings? Is has the callus & the start of roots. It should be able to quite wuickly establish itself. Any thoughts?

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Re: How and when to Air Layer a live oak?

Post  JimLewis on Sun Nov 25, 2012 2:07 pm

If you are hoping to recreate a spreading southern live oak shape from your air layer, I hope you are VERY young. I've seen nice live oak (Q. virginiana) bonsai, but none were images of "live oaks."

Your best bet is to find a surrogate. If you search here for "boxwood" and "live oak" you will find that both Russell and I have shown some quite decent "live oaks" from Buxus mycrophylla.

A note: the best live oak bonsai I have seen -- all of them from the Miami or Ft. Myers area -- came from a "shrubby variety, Q. virginiana var. maritima" (Petrides, p. 222) from far south Florida. The type species is much less amenable to bonsai culture. (Q. virginiana is, by the way, a member of the white oak group.)

I've never tried (or considered) air layering a live oak. My guess , however, is that it will be difficult. Dirr's "Manual of Woody Landscape Plants" says seeds and cuttings (with strong rooting hormone) are the preferred method of propagation. Dirr and Hauser note (as mentioned above) that alyering is difficult.

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Re: How and when to Air Layer a live oak?

Post  drgonzo on Sun Nov 25, 2012 4:16 pm

leatherback wrote:
I was wondering.. Would it make sense to pot it up in late winter, as spring approaches and put it on a warm surface so to force it to root out more heavily when the buds break? Bascially the same strategy used when taking hardwood {winter} cuttings? Is has the callus & the start of roots. It should be able to quite wuickly establish itself. Any thoughts?

I have severed layers in early spring that were not finished making roots from the previous year, thinking along the same lines as you outlined above, that they were similar to large hardwood cuttings. They have all died not long after bud break.

As the layer itself is perfectly happy to live on the tree for another season there's no need to rush things. If I jump too soon I could set myself back two years again having to start fresh...why risk it?

-Jay

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Re: How and when to Air Layer a live oak?

Post  leatherback on Sun Nov 25, 2012 4:23 pm

OK, thx!

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Re: How and when to Air Layer a live oak?

Post  PeacefulAres on Mon Nov 26, 2012 4:56 am

JimLewis wrote:If you are hoping to recreate a spreading southern live oak shape from your air layer, I hope you are VERY young. I've seen nice live oak (Q. virginiana) bonsai, but none were images of "live oaks."

Your best bet is to find a surrogate. If you search here for "boxwood" and "live oak" you will find that both Russell and I have shown some quite decent "live oaks" from Buxus mycrophylla.

A note: the best live oak bonsai I have seen -- all of them from the Miami or Ft. Myers area -- came from a "shrubby variety, Q. virginiana var. maritima" (Petrides, p. 222) from far south Florida. The type species is much less amenable to bonsai culture. (Q. virginiana is, by the way, a member of the white oak group.)

I've never tried (or considered) air layering a live oak. My guess , however, is that it will be difficult. Dirr's "Manual of Woody Landscape Plants" says seeds and cuttings (with strong rooting hormone) are the preferred method of propagation. Dirr and Hauser note (as mentioned above) that alyering is difficult.

Well, I am pretty young Smile

Oddly enough, the tree is question doesn't seem to sprawl as most live oaks do. It's more of a twin trunked tree with a large canopy. It's hard to describe. At any rate, I want to have a live oak more than i want a tree that looks like a live oak, if that makes any sense. I have two seedlings growing at the moments, but I would like something with a thicker trunk, which is why I'm considering the air layer. If it doesn't work, so be it. I'll be collecting other trees to work on, so I won't worry too much about what might fail.

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Re: How and when to Air Layer a live oak?

Post  rockm on Mon Nov 26, 2012 6:37 pm

I've had a live oak bonsai for a while now. It was collected in 1992 in Texas. I haven't taken air layers from it, as there are some climate issues here in Va. that won't really allow it.



I didn't collect the tree myself, but have collected smaller live oak. It's hit and miss with them since I have to take them back home to Virginia. Smaller trees suffer complete branch dieback every winter. I was left to regrow complete brances every spring on the smaller ones. The large tree is stored in a cold greenhouse every winter, but not before being exposed to frosts and freezes through Thanksgiving every year.

Anyway, I suspect air layering wouldn't be a problem in areas where teh temperatures allow it.
I would suggest ground layering as a possible alternative if you have access to a tree that has decent nebari already at ground level. Mine pushes new roots very easily.




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Re: How and when to Air Layer a live oak?

Post  JimLewis on Mon Nov 26, 2012 10:37 pm

Very nice oak. Great base!

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Re: How and when to Air Layer a live oak?

Post  PeacefulAres on Mon Nov 26, 2012 11:43 pm

Well, the good news is, I found oak seedlings around the base of the larger tree. I'll try to collect this spring and see if I can't plant them somewhere with more sun.

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Re: How and when to Air Layer a live oak?

Post  milehigh_7 on Tue Nov 27, 2012 8:33 am

What I do with live oak seedlings is in January (here that is just before spring, still cold but warming) pull them up like weeds, just grab on and yank. Dust with some rooting hormone and put under a humidity dome with bottom heat. I have had nearly 100% take this way. I will see if I can find some pics.

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Re: How and when to Air Layer a live oak?

Post  milehigh_7 on Tue Nov 27, 2012 8:54 am

Here is a 2 year old seedling that I did the way described above:





It is about 1" at the base.

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