Air layering my Michelia Alba.... What am I doing wrong?

Genericboi(10 CA)January 24, 2009

I attempted last year with no success. I was thinking about trying again this year. But before I do...I thought I might ask the community. First off...this is what I did.

I would find a branch(semi-ripe) about pencil thickness. Remove a 1 inch ring of bark(including scraping off all of the cambium) around the stem about 12-18 inches from the tip. I would dust the the wound with rooting hormone. Then wrap it up in plastic wrap with moist peat moss. I did this in January and waited until March-ish to remove the peat. What I would find is that the wound would callous(a lot)...but no roots!

What am I doing wrong? Is it the wrong time of year? Am I selecting the wrong type of wood? Should I have waited longer before I took off the Peat and plastic?

Any stories of success would be helpful! Thanks!


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Time of year ok The two main problems people have with airlayer is the moss dries out. I check mine once a month & add additional water if needed.... and many give up to soon... I delay till I see roots comming through the moss then remove & plant

    Bookmark   January 25, 2009 at 10:49AM
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Genericboi(10 CA)

Thank you, Yiorges! Most of my experiments with other plants usually root(a lot) within that 2 months. When I try it again, I'll keep an eye on it and wait longer. Do you use a powder rooting hormone?...because I've seen it in liquid, too!

    Bookmark   January 25, 2009 at 9:40PM
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petzold6596(8b southern NM)

RH is not necessary.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2009 at 9:33PM
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I also wouldn't scrape all the cambium off all the way around. That girdles the branch and, in effect, cuts it off from the mother plant, and you lose the benefit of air layering (which, of course, is the "cutting" still being attached to the mother and getting water/nutrients from it as it roots). If you do scrape that deep all the way around, you might as well take the cutting completely off and root that way.

So just scrape the bottom side a little bit. You really don't need to wound it much.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2009 at 1:41PM
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bernadette_gourder(5 from Newaygo, MI)


I am new at air layering, but I have had success nonetheless. The best time of year for me has been right before they leaf out, in the spring. They have rooted quite quickly and I severed them from the shrub/tree in the fall and potted them. I would scrape the branch all the way around so that the shrub doesn't try to heal it self over if I only scraped one side of it. Pencil thickness is good, but make sure that it isn't old wood. I do put rooting hormone on mine, the powder kind, although honestly I am not sure if I need it. Then I wrap it well with moist (not wet) moss that I found in our woods. Holding the moss it place with my hand I completely covered it with aluminum foil. I think foil works best because it helps it not to dry out as fast, because the sun bounces off of it. If you were to use, let's say plastic wrap or something, then you would be making a mini greenhouse.
Check your air layer in about a month to see how it's coming along. If you are too eager you may hurt the roots that are coming when you unwrap the foil. Some people wrap the moss in plastic wrap, then put the foil over that so that when they unwrap the foil they will be able to see if
there are any roots without disturbing them.

Hope that helps a bit!

    Bookmark   February 4, 2009 at 9:04AM
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little_dani(9, S. Tex Coast)

You can also just wound it on the bottom as Knittlin mentioned. I usually do use a little RH, but I am not sure it is necessary either. Anyway, I lay my 'cutting' on top of a pot of rooting medium, and place a good rock or brick on top of it. If my 'cutting' is in the air, I figure a way to hang my pot on an arbor or fence, or tree.

The cutting MUST callous to make roots. No callous, no roots. You just are giving up too soon. You can use a turkey baster to deliver water to the moss. It works very well.


    Bookmark   February 13, 2009 at 9:43PM
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HI, all,

I am new in this forum. And I only have airlayer experience from punica Nana, which is very easy.

My question is: Are the Michelia ALBAs you were airlayered on the ground or in the pot?

Or say, can you airlayer M. ALBA in the pot?

I have one in the 5 G pot (~5 feet tall)and now it leaves out. Can I airlayer from it?



    Bookmark   February 28, 2009 at 1:03AM
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alba-mickey(San Francisco)

As you know that, I live in San Francisco that have a Michelia Alba tree as tall as 25 feet tall and for more than 26 years old tree in my backyard. Last year I tried to airlayering my Michelia Albra tree. But I just opened up the plastic bag of the airlayering, but I did not find any root, but I saw some callous. Do I have to wait for more time before it will root? Need help, thank you.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2010 at 1:36AM
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I had been airlayering my michelia alba tree for so many times and none of them were successful. But on June last year 2011, I did try to airlayering on my michelia alba again. Guss what? On July 16 2012 when I unwrapped the pouch on the airlayering part, I found some roots coming out from the pouch. I was so happy. Finally I did it. Later on of this week I will cut the rooted branch and transplant it to a pot. I will way for at a few years before I will plant it into the ground. I live in San Francisco,Ca. Here is the rooted branch of the michelia alba.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2012 at 11:58AM
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On Aug 2012 I transplanted my airlayering michelia alba into a pot in my backyard next to the my big michela alba tree. But today I notice that on the top two branches, they turn to brown. But the bottom branches are still green. Are the michelia alba still ok to grow? Thank you for any information. See the picture below.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2012 at 2:14PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

i wish you would have started your own post.. so this reply came to your email ... or i may never know if you remember to come back to see it..

that is a very big branch.. for a very small amount of roots.. i does not surprise me.. that it is sacrificing leaves...

all you can do.. is make sure it is properly watered.. not drowned.. and hope that it can get those roots functioning enough to put out some buds ... a fine misting a couple times a day might help the leaves.. but that will have nothing to do with the pot and the roots .... and proper watering ...

you may lose all the above.. but if it buds from dormant buds down near the root mass.. you should be all set ...

i see the tree is very large.. but i would suggest you should try much smaller pieces.. when you try again .... if you can figure out how to reach them ...

you failed a couple times.. now you know it will work.. dont give up now... keep trying ... its fun


    Bookmark   September 2, 2012 at 12:14PM
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The photo that I posted on Aug 28 2012 was the michelia alba that I airlayered on June 2011 and it rooted on July 2012. I cutted the airlayered branch had the root into the pot on Aug 2012. Today I found that the bulds on that airlayered michelia albra branch are blooming. I am so happy to see that. That mean my airlayered michelia alba is growing. What a success!!!! You can see the "white" bulds on the photo.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2012 at 5:56PM
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