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Propagate Appletree via Air Layering
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Author:  Tokendude [ Sun Jun 12, 2011 8:28 am ]
Post subject:  Propagate Appletree via Air Layering

Maybe 10 years ago I decided to try and grow a bunch of apple trees from seeds. Very unscientificly, I bought a half dozen varieties from the market, ate the apples and put the seeds in a moist paper towel and then plastic baggy and chunked them in the fridge for some cold stratification (90 days). I got about a dozen seeds to sprout, and as expected most of the trees were complete duds. They either died outright or else grew very little. Of these, two are still surviving. One is pitiful looking, but the other is a nice looking specimen and last year managed to produce a half dozen apples, which produced wonderful tasting fruit. This year there are several dozen on the tree so I decided to try to propagate this tree, this time using an air layering technique. Following is a pictorial of my attempt, but we'll have to wait until next spring to see if I was successful. BTW I haven't a clue the type of apple, but don't really care.

Attachments:
Apple tree from seed.JPG
Apple tree from seed.JPG [ 133.17 KiB | Viewed 14653 times ]
Fruits.JPG
Fruits.JPG [ 150.67 KiB | Viewed 14653 times ]
Apple closeup.JPG
Apple closeup.JPG [ 66.51 KiB | Viewed 14653 times ]

Author:  Tokendude [ Sun Jun 12, 2011 8:40 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Propagate Appletree via Air Layering

It's important to find the right branch to try to propagate from. You can't use branches pointing up (water shoots) because they will break in time when you force them to hang down. I use either horizontal branches or the few that hang down, and I only use new growth from this year.

I look for branches about 18" long and strip about 10"-12" of leaves off.

Attachments:
Branch for layering.JPG
Branch for layering.JPG [ 117.27 KiB | Viewed 14652 times ]
Stripped.JPG
Stripped.JPG [ 115.23 KiB | Viewed 14652 times ]
Cutting Bark.JPG
Cutting Bark.JPG [ 86.15 KiB | Viewed 14652 times ]

Author:  Tokendude [ Sun Jun 12, 2011 8:44 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Propagate Appletree via Air Layering

When you cut the bark (about 1" to 1 1/2" gap), you cut through the bark and the cambium layers. If you do it right, you can peel those layers away by making a slight vertical cut and then using your thumbnail to begin peeling. Best to add a rooting hormone to the wounded area also.

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Peeling Bark.JPG
Peeling Bark.JPG [ 88.67 KiB | Viewed 14652 times ]
Stem prepared.JPG
Stem prepared.JPG [ 103.67 KiB | Viewed 14652 times ]
Rooting Hormone.JPG
Rooting Hormone.JPG [ 112.63 KiB | Viewed 14652 times ]

Author:  Tokendude [ Sun Jun 12, 2011 8:48 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Propagate Appletree via Air Layering

You can use peat moss and wrap with a plastic bag, but I use a 2 liter pop bottle instead. I cut off the bottom and add strings on the sides to attach to the tree. This leaves the bottom of the bottle facing up after you're finished and you rarely have to water if you use the right potting compound and have an occasional rain through the summer and fall. Also, the open bottom prevents too much moisture from staying in the potting compound.

Perhaps the hardest part is feeding the prepared branch through the bottle neck without tearing off all of the leaves.

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2liter side view.JPG
2liter side view.JPG [ 103.71 KiB | Viewed 14652 times ]
2liter inside view.JPG
2liter inside view.JPG [ 114.1 KiB | Viewed 14652 times ]
2liter inside view with branch.JPG
2liter inside view with branch.JPG [ 82 KiB | Viewed 14652 times ]

Author:  Tokendude [ Sun Jun 12, 2011 8:53 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Propagate Appletree via Air Layering

This was a horizontal branch. Note that before soil is added the bottle still hangs mostly horizontal. After adding the potting soil though it hangs nearly vertical.

The potting mix I use has moisture "crystals" in it to add in keeping the mix moist. You could buy them separate and just use compost, but I can do a half dozen bottles with a single bag, and I like to reserve my compost for my garden.

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Branch in bottle without soil.JPG
Branch in bottle without soil.JPG [ 132.13 KiB | Viewed 14652 times ]
Potting Mix.JPG
Potting Mix.JPG [ 157.75 KiB | Viewed 14652 times ]
Finished branch.JPG
Finished branch.JPG [ 144.99 KiB | Viewed 14652 times ]

Author:  Tokendude [ Sun Jun 12, 2011 8:56 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Propagate Appletree via Air Layering

I'm doing about a dozen branches in total. If you look at the base of the tree I've got a large number of sprouts coming off of the root system also. I going to trench some of those into the bare soil and see if any of those root. no sense putting all of my apples in one basket... :ohdear:

Attachments:
Air Layering.JPG
Air Layering.JPG [ 164.09 KiB | Viewed 14652 times ]

Author:  Peasants [ Sun Jun 12, 2011 8:53 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Propagate Appletree via Air Layering

Wow, that looks amazing! Have you done it before and if so what is the success rate?

Author:  dufflight [ Sun Jun 12, 2011 9:08 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Propagate Appletree via Air Layering

Apples are on my to do list. Should throw a few seeds in to see how they go.

Author:  Tokendude [ Mon Jun 13, 2011 1:22 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Propagate Appletree via Air Layering

Hi Peasant:

I've never done it with 2 liter bottles, but I've wrapped them in peat moss and plastic and have about a 100% success rate.

TD

Author:  Jamey [ Mon Jun 13, 2011 8:22 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Propagate Appletree via Air Layering

how many years from seed to fruit would an apple tree take..... roughly.....

Author:  dufflight [ Mon Jun 13, 2011 8:45 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Propagate Appletree via Air Layering

Seed to fruit takes a long time. Mature grafted trees produce quicker but I find I end up taking a lot of new fruit off so the tree can grow more. I had a mango tree that has a hard time standing up in the wind, try to set 20+ fruit.

Author:  Jamey [ Mon Jun 13, 2011 9:23 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Propagate Appletree via Air Layering

I had in my mind 5-7 years, iv got a mate with a Monster of a tree, pretty sure it a Jonathon, i go over there and raid it every now n then.

Might get a few grafts off it one day

Author:  Tokendude [ Tue Jun 14, 2011 7:12 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Propagate Appletree via Air Layering

Jamey wrote:
how many years from seed to fruit would an apple tree take..... roughly.....


Keeping in mind that its a crap shoot to try from seed anyway, it took about 10 years for this tree to bear. It's the only one I've got to produce from seed out of about a dozen that I set out 10 years ago, but that was six different varieties if I remember correctly.

If you're really wanting apples in a shorter period of time I would recomend buying a tree on a dwarfing rootstock. That way you get fruit in 2-3 years. Difference is, lifespan of that type tree is 10-15 years typically. Trees on their original rootstock can last 30 or more years, IF they are productive in the first place. That's why I'm rooting shoots from this one. It's proven that it MIGHT be a contender for long term production.

If you want to get the benefit of a known cultivar, but with original roots, I would suggest buying a tree on the dwarf rootstock and then planting 2-3 inches BELOW the graft. This will allow roots to form from the original cultivar, and they will eventually take over the dwarf rootstock roots. Just be aware that if that you loose the benefits of the dwarf rootstock, including potential disease resistance, smaller sized tree, and quicker fruiting.

Roy

Author:  Snags [ Sat Jun 18, 2011 11:27 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Propagate Appletree via Air Layering

Tokendude wrote:
Hi Peasant:

I've never done it with 2 liter bottles, but I've wrapped them in peat moss and plastic and have about a 100% success rate.

TD

Me too
just put a nick in the bark first and it works well
Have also grabbed a low growing branch and held it down with a bent coat-hanger and buried a bit of it in the ground.

Author:  earthbound [ Mon Jun 20, 2011 7:14 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Propagate Appletree via Air Layering

Nice work Tokendude, thats taking me back to my days at Tafe studying horticulture, the coke bottle is a far simpler and better way than wrapping spagnum moss and plastic around the stem, simple and easy...

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