Growing Bonsai by Air Layering

Growing Bonsai by Air Layering

In Japanese: Toriki means a slightly more complex strategy to propagate Bonsai by air layering. Air layer is one of several techniques for increasing your bonsai stock.

The main behind air layering is to force a tree or branch to create new roots at a certain point by interrupting the natural flow of nutrients from the main root system. There are several reason that makes air-layering a good choice: reducing trunk, growing a much better Nebari (root flare), or choosing a branch to be grown as another tree.


Air-layering should be done only during the spring, when the tree began growing following its winter dormancy period.

How to create an air layer

There are two main ways to air-layer a tree; the tourniquet method and the ring method.

The tourniquet method involves tightly wrapping the trunk/branch with copper wire to block the stream of nutrients partially. When the trunk/branch grows thicker the flow of nutrition will decrease, forcing the tree to develop new roots above the wired area. This technique is used for rather slow growing trees that require additional time to grow fresh roots; these won’t survive the even more aggressive ring technique.

The ring method involves cutting away a ring of bark at the idea on the trunk or branch where you desire brand-new roots to grow. The portion above the ring will need to grow roots to be able to survive immediately. The ring should be wide enough to prevent the tree from bridging the gap.

Wrap a bit of copper wire completely around the trunk/branch right at the point where you prefer new roots to develop. The wire should cut about into the bark halfway; the thicker the trunk/branch the thicker the cable ought to be.

Apply some rooting hormone around the ‘wound’ and now wrap a good quantity of sphagnum moss around the wound, covering it with some plastic.

Make use of a sharp knife to cut two parallel slits around the circumference of the branch (maintain enough room between both slits, at least one time the size of the branch).

Now remove the band of bark between both of these cuts best till the ‘shiny’ hardwood is seen and the cambium is removed.

Make certain the ring can be wide enough that the tree does  not have the ability to span the wound; also be sure you have removed the bark around the entire tree exposing hard wood; the tree will only grow roots if it has no other choice.

Apply some rooting hormone around the ‘wound’ and today wrap an excessive amount of wet sphagnum moss around the wound, covering it completely with plastic wrap and sealing the wound.

Follow-up Care

The moss should be kept moist at all times. After about 90 days roots should begin to grow in the moss. When the plastic is filled up with new roots slice the plant just below the roots. Apply cut paste to the wound on the original tree, Do not make an effort to take away the moss; plant the whole bundle, minus the plastic in well drained Bonsai Soil. Place the new plant in a shielded area out of bright sunlight. Let the new tree grow until the following spring.

Bonsai Branch Bender

This bender is very helpful as you become more advanced in bonsai. This tool is very adjustable and will easily handle tree trunks up to an inch. They are very low priced and can be left in place. I did a short demo video on this bender. Watch the Bonsai Branch Bender demo video.

Bonsai Knob Cutters

A good pair of Bonsai Knob Cutters is essential for advanced bonsai artistry. These tools are great for gettting in close and removing small buds, branchs, gins, and inperfections. This is a high quality pair and is made from carbon steel.

Bonsai Tweezers

This is probably not the first bonsai tool I would buy, but it sure comes in handy. There is always something small, like a bud or a bug that needs to be grabbed. This type is good because there is a blade tool on the opposite end. This can be used to loosen the plant from the edge of a pot.

Bonsai Leaves Branch Shears

For a smaller hand, the best pair of shears is Bonsai Leaves Branch Shears. The smaller opening allow the user greater control and the length allows you to reach deep inside a plant and clip interior leafs and branches.

Bonsai Knife

A good sharp Bonsai Knife is one of the most important tools you can have. There are so many uses that I can't even list them all. You just need it there when it is needed.

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