Winged Elm air layer

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Richmond, VA
USDA Zone
7a
#1
Here's a Winged Elm air layer I started on 7/8. When I checked it on 8/24 it had finally started putting out roots (@sorce could be right :D). So I cut it down and potted it up earlier today. I'm excited about this one because I think it has good movement in the trunk already and has good corky growth. I'm thinking it could see a bonsai pot in a few years for ramification.

It started out around 8' tall from the bottom of the layer to the top of the plant, and the main trunk is about 12.5" tall from the soil but there's probably a couple inches buried. I pruned it back some hoping there's not too much foliage left to over work it.


What do you guys think, any critiques or advice? I might wire the top up a little more but not sure...

I should have plenty of season left to get decent root growth and could start growing the apex and branches next year. I dug up two saplings this spring also and they've taken off so hopefully this does well. I have high hopes for this one :)
 

Ross

Shohin
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Dallas, TX
#2
Nice bark and movement on this one. I think the thick bark also presents a challenge because it will take years in the ground to develop a convincing root-spread from these fresh roots. Even if you "power-grow" this thing for a few years to bulk up the surface roots, they will still not blend in with the thick bark on the trunk. So, if you want to develop this one, you'll have to temper your expectations in that regard, but that's not unusual for winged elms. I would let it grow unrestrained for a while to establish a brick of roots, then see what you're working with. Wiring or disturbing it right now in the pot may break off the delicate new roots, and could kill the tree. It'd be better to just leave it alone and give plenty of sun, water, and fertilizer. Keep an eye out for scale insect on the underside of branches in the spring.

Edit: When I say let it grow for a while unrestrained, I mean like a year or two, not this fall or early spring.
 

sorce

Nonsense Rascal
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Berwyn, Il
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#3
Nice!

I do not understand the colander pic,
Was it made in there?

Is there still a long stub on the bottom?

Sorce
 
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Location
Richmond, VA
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#4
@Ross
Thanks. So what you're saying is that the roots will always be out of scope with the trunk? Am I right to think that eventually exposing the roots to the air would cause them to also bark up? I am planning on letting it grow at least a full season or two, but my saplings were thinner than a pencil this spring and they're now over an inch thick and taller than 4 feet, they were started in a 1gal. and they're now in a 7gal. and still growing. I'm thinking that since they're so vigorous my timeline may be much shorter but I'm all about taking my time for them to develop; I bet by mid spring next year it's ready to be potted up bigger.

I luckily haven't seen any scale but I have definitely seen other pests and some fungus, these are just prone to a lot of stuff...
 
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Location
Richmond, VA
USDA Zone
7a
#6
@sorce

Thanks. I used the colander to just catch all the soil I was washing off the root crown, had nothing to do with the actual layer. The layer was done at work and I didn't have time to cut up sphagnum so I used potting soil... Yeah the stub is still there, I was going to cut it off but i thought it could help stabilize the layer in the pot.

I mentioned you because it hadn't rooted but I checked it during the waning moon and it finally had started along with another J. Maple layer that hadn't done anything since early July ;)
 
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694
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Location
Richmond, VA
USDA Zone
7a
#7
@Cypress187

Across the street from where I found this one growing are much bigger ones with lots of wings, they almost add a few inches to the diameter. I see pictures on here from other Winged Elms and none of them I see look quite like mine, the others seem to have more scaly bark. I wonder if I have a different type or maybe mine are diseased/mutated. Could be immaturity, but I see some with 4-5" caliper trunks that have the same sort of wings.

I'm getting wings on my Emperor J. Maple air layer which is weird... Didn't know they would get wings also...
 

Ross

Shohin
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#9
@Ross
Thanks. So what you're saying is that the roots will always be out of scope with the trunk? Am I right to think that eventually exposing the roots to the air would cause them to also bark up?...
The roots are like the branches, in that they start out soft and pliable, get woody as they mature, and need to grow long to thicken. I have read that the roots will thicken and mature faster if they are buried, not exposed. I don't think you can ever really get there with it in a pot, but hey, there are always other options like root grafting, making it part of a forest, planting it in a stone, etc... I have one with similar corky bark (not flaky) that I collected in early spring of 2013. The roots are also not great, as they were straight, pencil thick, and not all on the same plane. I left them all when collected, trimmed back and selected the best ones when I re-potted last year, and have had them buried for the most part, hoping they will thicken a bit. Here are pics from Spring of 2013, then one from February of this year, then one from an hour ago today. I'm still working on this one, trying to pull down a couple branches with wires, and searching for the right balance still. Hope this helps.
collected.jpg leafless.jpg today.jpg
 
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Location
Richmond, VA
USDA Zone
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#10
@Ross
Wow nice, ours look very similar as far as movement, thanks for posting the pics. That was kind of what I was envisioning with mine. My guess is that I'll pot it up bigger next spring and check on the roots then, and I'll probably let the top run and hopefully that will thicken the roots. My eventual goal is to get a lot of my plants in the ground but right now I can't do that.

How tall is yours, trying to get an idea of scale? I noticed your branches don't have wings yet, have they not developed or are you rubbing them off?
 

Ross

Shohin
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#11
@Ross
How tall is yours, trying to get an idea of scale? I noticed your branches don't have wings yet, have they not developed or are you rubbing them off?
Mine looks shorter than yours I think. I just went out and measured it at 15'' tall. There are some wings on the branches, but not nearly as heavy as yours. You can see some of the little wings in the bare picture #2. I have been keeping this one pretty trimmed back and never let the branches extend far or fast enough to get heavy wings, but it did have some serious wings on the original (natural) branches. All the branches it has now were regrown since collection.
 
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Location
Richmond, VA
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7a
#12
Mine is about 12.5" with a inch or two buried. So you mostly clip and grow the branches or pull them down? After seeing how my seedlings grew this season, I would imagine clip and grow is the way to go for movement in the branches? I could get some nice zigs and zags using that method. The wings are so delicate I would hate to damage them with wires; I wonder at what rate the wings grow back if rubbed off?
 

Ross

Shohin
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#14
I don't think the wings will ever grow back if you are growing it as a bonsai because you won't get enough unrestrained growth. I have used wire, clip and grow, and guy wires on mine.
 
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Location
Richmond, VA
USDA Zone
7a
#16
@Hack Yeah!
Dont have any updated pictures. I didn't really do much with it in 2017, I wanted to give it a full year without any insults to get it well rooted in the pot before I do any work.

This spring, I'll probably work on getting the branches under control, they're pretty coarse right now without much interest. I have new growth near the branch bases and I may use them instead of the existing branches, either that or I'll just cut them back hard.

I'm not sure what I'm going to do about the apex. Originally after I severed the layer I was going to recut the chop because it was a little hasty and not at the right angle, I was just cutting it so I could get it in my car. I never fixed the angle and now the chop is at least half healed, but I got a lot of new branches coming up from the chop site, so I might choose a new leader.

Hopefully this Spring I can get some work done on it and maybe it will be a little more presentable!