Zelkova layering again

Since one of the two layering attempts turned out so well, and the parent tree was growing so strong, I decided to make another layer, and likely, I’ll just work my way down the trunk making a layer each year, until I hit soil.

Last year’s layer growing out for a year in the ground:


Next up, May 15:





By early July, I expected to see roots forming in the medium, but none were to be seen. I opened the bag and saw the zelkova had nearly completely bridged the girdle.


Using a knife, the cambium/callus tissue was removed back to the wood again:

And the rooting medium was reapplied…and the wait continues…

The top was cut back a little at the same time:


Then suddenly in August….

All bets are off. What happened? Maybe the callus bridging was keeping the top alive, or maybe the whole tree just dried out, because the whole thing was dead as a post. So much for the plan.

Good news is, the grandparent tree is still going strong. A new goal of mine is to continue comparing the design. Here is a shot from before and after winter pruning:




3 thoughts on “Zelkova layering again

  1. great post. Sometimes we don’t get to see failures and mistakes from which we can learn a lot. I assume the zelkova is still alive below the attempted layering. Thanks.

  2. If there was no foliage below the girdle, nothing was feeding the roots (it looks that there was maybe one meager shoot). This is the risk of layering trunks. However, in my experience this ‘failure by root death’ doesn’t happen in one season, but occurs about halfway through the second season. I’ve even had this happen with a bald cypress!

    The ‘bridging’ is regrowth of residual xylem initials (cambium cells on the wood). These are easily dealt with by wiping the girdle thoroughly with isopropyl alcohol (70%) OR leaving the girdle open to the air for a day or two before wrapping it up in plastic bag of damp sphagnum.

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