Plant Cultivation, Propagation and Management Techniques

“An air-pruning propagation system is a low-cost, efficient method of propagating cuttings, seedlings or container plants for restoration projects. Air pruning happens naturally when roots are exposed to air in the absence of high humidity. The roots are effectively 'burned' off, causing the plant to constantly produce new and healthy branching roots. If roots are not exposed to air, they continue to grow around the container in a constricted pattern. The roots may spiral, twist, kink or become strangled.

When the plant is later installed it will likely fail to establish a normal root structure, and instead will have reduced uptake of water and nutrients. ... Healthy, highly branched root structures allow a plant to more efficiently uptake water and nutrients while increasing growth and overall plant health.” — from Walker, 2005

EdibleAcres. 2022. Air Prune Boxes - Version 2 - INCREDIBLE tree growing system. Video. Retrieved from

EdibleAcres. 2019. 1000+ Trees... 1 Parking Space. Video. Retrieved from

From the video's description: “I'm excited to share a system that is proving to be quite productive so far. The basic idea is to create long lasting beds made of non-toxic materials to grow incredibly healthy and valuable trees on our most marginal space: our driveway! Air prune technical details and value. I encourage you to research and learn about this system as a way to grow very well adapted and heartily rooted young trees to set out in the field or sell.”

EdibleAcres. 2019. Chestnut Seeds Are Sprouting: Nursery work must begin!. Video. Retrieved from

From the video's description: “A fair bit of the tree seeds we've stored in our root cellar are starting to wake up after a nice long winter. It's great to see they are so incredibly viable and alive, but the timing is a little tough as the ground outside is still frozen and snow covered! I'm scrambling to make 1'x2' movable, strong 'air prune' boxes that I can plant these seeds into so their roots can continue to develop in the right direction and get established and ready to grow, and then putting them back in the root cellar so they can remain cool and slow in the process. Hoping spring comes soon since these boxes are starting to pile up!”

EdibleAcres. 2019. Air Prune Beds: The Unboxing! Video. Retrieved from

From the video's description: “More detailed discussion of the 2' x 4' boxes we built to sit on our driveway for the summer. Air prune beds are an incredible way to grow trees, shrubs, etc, on very marginal spaces, or in places temporarily. Perhaps you are renting, or are in school, or have access to a space this year but not next, etc. This basic design approach can help you generate a tremendous number of incredibly high valued plants and put things back how they were when you are done! We're hoping this can be a useful idea for anyone interested in growing MANY trees to either earn some money where they live, or kick start a beautiful food forest for very little investment.”

Julia Walker. 2005. Guidebook for Native Plant Propagation: Development and construction of an air-pruning propagation bench, and its proper use. In 'ESRM 412: Native Plant Production'. University of Washington, College of Forest Resources. Retrieved from

EdibleAcres. 2018. Stool Layering: Is it Worth the Effort?!. Video. Retrieved from

EdibleAcres. 2021. Stool Layering: Easy Propagation Trick. Video. Retrieved from

A couple of videos on how the banking of sawdust, wood chips, work castings or soil around the base of amenable species (especially shrubs / woody perennials that are low to the ground and tend to send up lots of suckers and shoots) can result in the growth of roots from the buried nodes within a season or two — and without any rooting hormones, etc.

“Coppicing is a traditional method of woodland management which exploits the capacity of many species of trees to put out new shoots from their stump or roots if cut down. In a coppiced wood, young tree stems are repeatedly cut down to near ground level, resulting in a stool. New growth emerges, and after a number of years, the coppiced tree is harvested, and the cycle begins anew. Pollarding is a similar process carried out at a higher level on the tree in order to prevent grazing animals from eating new shoots.” — Wikipedia page on Coppicing

What is particularly interesting for me is the fact that this ancient 'forestry management' technique seems to be one of the few (if only?) practices that actually increases biodiversity (through preventing the coppiced area from being completely overgrown by tall / late-successional trees, leaving patches where shrubs and bushes can grow which, in turn, provides shelter for smaller animals which would otherwise not be found in a 'climax forest') whilst simultaneously extending the lifespan of the individual trees from several decades up to around 1000 years.

Add to this the fact that the regularly harvestable wood can be used as an actually renewable source of firewood and/or construction materials, and this seems like a practice that make a ridiculous amount of sense, be it on the small 'homesteading' scale or a larger 'community' energy / materials production scale.

Forestry Commission. 2015. What is coppicing?. Video. Retrieved from

Forestry Commission. 2015. The wildlife benefits of coppicing in woodland. Video. Retrieved from

In the first video, “Jon Rau from the Forestry Commission explores the traditional woodland management technique of coppicing. He explains what coppicing is, what it involves and the potential uses of wood products from coppice”. In the second, he “describes why coppicing is beneficial for wildlife, and the extra ways in which you can make your coppice even better for biodiversity”.

Paul KinderPolitics Quest108 Crosland. 2017. Ben Law, Coppicing Increases Biodiversity; Larches & Autobiography. Video. Retrieved from

In this video, Ben Law describes how coppicing is, in his opinion, the only system in which he can comfortable say that “the human element increases biodiversity

Ian Rotherham. 2019. Coppice management and charcoal making with the late Bill Hogarth. Video. Retrieved from

Hartmann, Kester, Davies and Geneve (2014). Hartmann and Kester's Plant Propagation Principles and Practices (8ed). Pearson, Essex, England. ISBN 10: 1-292-02088-1.

The world standard for plant propagation and horticulture for over 50 years, Hartmann and Kester's Plant Propagation continues to be the field's most complete, up-to-date text on plant propagation. It now contains colour figures throughout, promoting learning and making it an even more useful working text and reference. It also contains extensive updates reflecting the latest commercial techniques and understanding of propagation biology. Like previous editions, it is organised into paired chapters on principles and practices, so it can easily be adapted for teaching courses that cover only practical topics, and for courses that also cover conceptual issues.

Subjects covered include the general, environmental and plant-biological aspects of propagation; overviews of seed propagation and development; the principles and practices of seed selection; the techniques of seed production and handling; the principles and techniques of propagation from seeds; vegetative propagation; the principles and techniques of propagation by cuttings; the principles and techniques of grafting and budding; layering; propagation by specialised stems and roots; the principles and practices of clonal selection; cell and tissue culture propagation; the principles and techniques of tissue culture and micropropagation; and detailed information about the propagation of selected plant species, including the propagation methods and rootstocks for fruit and nut species, and ornamentals trees, shrubs, woody vines and selected ornamental annuals and herbaceous perennials.

  • Last modified: 2022-03-10 15:41
  • by Peter