Mulberry air layer.....questions

I’m attempting to bring a wild mulb out of the woods. I placed an air layer today and I have questions before doing a second one.

  1. Should I have placed a wire tourniquet at the base?

  2. This area get very little sunlight. Is a foil wrap still needed?

  3. Do I need to trim any of the top branches back? It’s a very shaded area and branches are lanky trying to reach the sun.

  4. Should I try to choose a branch that might get a bit of sun or attempt to prune trees away to try to bring sunlight in? These are young trees that I’m using as I am making sure it’s a female tree and the mother tree is up in the canopy and unreachable.

  5. Am I wasting my time?

  6. I have rootstock to graft to but unsure about attempting anything this time of year.


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I’ve got some iem cuttings i took a few weeks ago showing roots… also i have a branch of my iem layered from last fall i will try digging up this fall after it goes dormant. That’s all i have to offer on this topic.


girdling the airlayer site then wrapping with a moisture mix should be enough.

If getting little sunlight, probably won’t need foil wrapping. Although anything that is opaque would still be better than transparent wrapping. Because roots tend to grow away from light, i would often wrap my airlayers in transparent wrap, and then wrap again with removable and replaceable opaque wrapping. This way the roots won’t be ‘shy’ about growing outwards and will easily be visible, when you remove the opaque wrap. If no roots evident when checked, then just cover again with the opaque wrap.[quote=“k8tpayaso, post:1, topic:11629”]
Do I need to trim any of the top branches back? It’s a very shaded area and branches are lanky trying to reach the sun.
[/quote][quote=“k8tpayaso, post:1, topic:11629”]
Should I try to choose a branch that might get a bit of sun or attempt to prune trees away to try to bring sunlight in?

it would be favorable for sunlight reach all the leaves above the airlayer, and zero sunlight at the airlayer.
When we girdle trees, the food surplus is maxed above the girdle, and extra food in the absence of phloem connection to the roots = strong stimulus for callus and de novo root formation. If the foliage above the girdle does not get much sunlight, there won’t be much food production from above. .

definitely not a waste of time! Not all mulbs are easy to grow from cuttings/airlayers, so if that tree bears good berries, then determining whether or not it can be propagated via cuttings or airlayers would be very useful knowledge.


It might be worth scanning the area for MB seedlings that came up where critters had spread berries/seeds around. Digging them up in late Fall is convenient, and the root systems would likely be stronger than new, fragile roots in the air layering compartment. Although I have have had success air layering MB w/o adding more water a few weeks later to the soil mix inside, in the future I will. Re-moistened soil mix would better accommodate the young roots to help them grow more. Good for you in taking advantage of the nearby MB resources.


Perhaps the most important detail to achieving a successful air-layering is to soak the peat or sphagnum moss thoroughly, but then squeeze as much water as you comfortably can out of the moss before using (if it is water-logged it will rot and die). Also, you want a good seal on all potential places of rain water entry. Wrapping foil over the plastic helps to keep the moss from drying out (plastic is semi-permeable). Check every month to see air layer moss isn’t getting too dry. If too dry, get a hypodermic needle from your druggist and add a little water. You should see roots and be able to plant in three months. Cut off leafy growth in proportion to root ball. Keep in shade for several weeks and gradually bring to full sunlight. We have complete faith in you Katie.


I have searched the area for seedlings and perhaps I just don’t know what to look for. I might have another look and see if I find one. This area is right on the edge of the woods and although I cleared out some space in the winter it has been overtaken by fast growing blackberry vines and other undergrowth. So it isn’t like looking on a forest floor for small seedlings. Maybe though… the mother tree does over hang a semi cleared area so I’ll give it another look.

The fruit of these trees is really good tasting so it’s just a project I’ve adopted. Thanks for the suggestions. I’ve studied some techniques but have not done any air layering before.

That’s what I’m afraid of and it’s going to be really difficult to get sunlight in there. Although it’s on the edge the canopy blocks most of the direct sunlight. That’s one reason I really wanted to bring these out so I can see what they would do in the opening. A huge elm to the west just lost its top and east branches to a storm and it narrowly missed these mulbs when it fell. Didn’t open it up much though…

I needed to be reminded of that…one year I used clear plastic cups to start my seed. I did notice that and decided not to try and confuse my seedlings again.

It’s going to get a foil wrapper this morning.

Two years ago if someone were to have suggested I would be this involved in growing and propagation I would have laughed and laughed and laughed. Super thanks to “all y’alls” help and encouragement!


Actually some of these branches are quite low. One sapling has been knocked over and I think it has taken root. It’s much too big to pull out but I might be able to take one of its branches down.

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Walking about the area and looking for 1- 6 feet tall young MB seedlings is easy enough as you stare at all the leaves in search of the easily distinguished leaf shape that the MB has. Bigger than that does involve extra digging to remove as much root structure as possible for transplanting in early Winter/late Fall. It is not necessary to get the soil that the roots are growing in: carefully removed MB roots can usually handle being gently separated from the soil and replanted. I have dug up and potted quite a few here for give-away plants. The leaves’ shapes may possibly vary somewhat from that of the parent trees.


i still remember your pm from a couple yrs ago and you did write the same exact thing. Well, you are now dabbling in grafting, airlayers, etc! Have seen some of your successful grafts, and you are evidently a pro :+1:

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Hahaha. Officially my title is still “dabbler” however I’m getting a reputation among my coworkers. And if I keep bringing them fruit it will get better and better! I already have them asking when the jujubes are going to be ripe. I think a couple are interested in getting a tree. Or not. Maybe they just want me to pick and bring fruit…

I look at all these rootstocks I have sitting around and CANNOT. WAIT. FOR . SPRING!

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Went out today and foil wrapped my air layer and put another one on another limb. Trimmed back some branches and vines to see if a bit more sunlight can get in. I’m itching from chigger bites and have scratches all over my legs and thorns in my fingers. Nearly everything in those woods is out to get you and I just realized I left my hat in a bush…

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many members here feel the same way am sure!

no chigger bite nor thorns hinder your ‘quest’ !

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Yeah, it’s a wild world out there. I’m sure that the early settlers had way lots more problems with insects, unfriendly plants, and germs than anything else, just like modern gardeners. To manage the chigger welt itching you may want to quickly get a tiny bottle of the “New Skin” brush-on liquid bandage and cover them with it. It has helped more than 100 times for me.