Within a few days after returning home from a workshop at Fuku-Bonsai and after a few email exchanges,  I informed Ryan that I would continue to use the concept of this shallow saucer-pot as the "permanent pot"  for the Fuku-Bonsai collection as it would be possible for me to traine Fuku-Bonsai staff to develop the discipline to learn to prune hard and to do periodic root pruning in place without full repotting. 

                But I informed him of having second thoughts of whether isolated novices could develop that discipline, and therefore, it may make more sense to just use the standard x-wire plant securing method.  I noted that he and Larry had a hard time with the plastic collar and that the aluminum foil collar would probably be easier. I encouraged him to redo the plants using the methods most comfortable for him.  Ryan redid his Sumo and Roots and submitted the following reports.


By Ryan Chang (Waipahu, Oahu, Hawaii)

               I remember teasing the top media off, and as I uncovered the roots, discovered they were strong and full of character.  The trunk itself formed an elegant line, and David noted that since it had a bending shape to it, that it should be planted in a corner with the foliage facing inwards.  I agreed and it gives the scene a dramatic flow.  The re-do of this workshop will include removing the aluminum wires used to tie down the plant.  The permanent loop holes on the bottom need to be removed to allow the plant to be re-potted in the future.  The nursery pot collar will be removed, and I will use the aluminum collar instead.  I found aluminum tape and decided Iíd give that a try instead of the masking tape.  Keeping in mind not to thicken any areas of the aluminum because I didnít want to hinder any growth and too thick of aluminum will do that.   It was also important to add the holes in the aluminum foil collar for air.  The foliage was already pruned in the Big Island, and I didnít need to do any more as it already looked great. 


         This is a close-up view of how the tree was completed at the Fuku-Bonsai workshop.  The width at the bottom of the plant is sprouting nice sized roots.  It also gives a nice taper towards to the top.   Excellent foliage is growing in a sumo fashion with the middle apex being the highest point of the plant and the scene really takes off nicely. 

           The bottom of the saucer pot shows the heavier aluminum training wire to permanently marry the plant to the pot. This will be changed in this re-do. 

            I think David would say ďmake the hill biggerĒ, so thatís what I tried to keep telling myself when creating this hill.  The extra body media he sent me home with really came in handy.

          I didnít do any teasing of the media this time.  I just lifted the plant off the previous hill, and added the bind wire.  After positioning the plant, push down with a twisting back-and-forth motion.   At the same time push down  hard and tie the bind-wire, so the plant doesnít move. 

          David recommends tearing off the aluminum foil twice  the diameter of the saucer-pot for the collar.  I like to use a little longer.   NOTE: in this photo, I left aluminum open, so I can add more body media to increase the growth for the roots into the area.  I also have the aluminum tape in the picture.. 

         The completed photo shows the training wire removed.  The bind-wire tied around the plant and extra media shoved in the growing area.  Note: no masking tape used, only minimal aluminum tape.  I also created the collar / water catchment with the aluminum tape.  I remembered to poke holes for the air to reach the roots.   This should be a very nice looking sumo in a few years.

By Ryan Chang (Waipahu, Oahu, Hawaii)

               The Intermediate level Project (ILP) workshops were informative and David made it seem easy.  He also left us with the option to explore our own methods in the future as the workshop was still developing.  The little details seem to be exhilarating to me, like the pleats in the aluminum collar.  Maybe because I canít see the roots growing, its exciting to think about the end result with all the twist and bends that were manipulated by the foil which you created.  I find it easier to work at my own pace, however, nothing beats working with David and his staff.  The plants to start with are the best quality compared to anything else that Iíve seen in the world, when it comes to purchasing beginner style bonsai.  Unless, you are an avid hiker who comes across bonsai specimens that will likely make great bonsai, you most likely are like me, an average person, who wanted to take up bonsai as a hobby.   Then, Fuku Bonsai is the best type of plants to purchase because as David explained to me, itís easier to grow than others, and you can train the plant in multiple different styles.  The training and growing never ends, so as time goes on, you will develop a one of a kind bonsai.   Nature is the essence of the spirit of bonsai or at least it is to me, and I just want to appreciate it.     


           A view showing training wire used to secure the plant to the saucer pot.  Another change will extend the collar to cover the edge of the sauce-pot. 

           The material used to form the hill uses twice as much coarse bottom with a small amount of body media to assure ideal drainage.  NOTE: Keep the hill high with the more media the better because it will be used to firm up the base of the plant.

           I bent the support training wire flat, so about an inch is lying flat to support the plant standing up.  The previous setup ran the wire through the holes to  secure the plant to the pot.  Note that more media will  need to be added to the base.

           I found it easier to secure the plant before adding more media to the base.  I cut an opening to shove body media in and firming up as I go.  NOTE: The aluminum collar I added to the bottom area reaches and covers the edges.  I also rolled down the crumpled side and tightened around the base.  

            Using masking tape, I covered the opening I made to shove body media into the aluminum foil support structure.  I also used bind-wire in a wrapping method around the plant instead of going up and over to secure the plant to the pot.  I tested by lifting the plant from the neck and found it was nicely secured. 

           This view shows the twists and bends of the re-done ROOTS.  I used two pieces of aluminum collar to cover the base area and the edges of the pot and added holes in the aluminum for the air to enter.    


           This article is scheduled for the March 2013 issue which features the coming of spring!  Throughout the country,  we are receiving stories of how those in the northern states are escaping from the snow and some are heading to Florida or Arizona!  To contrast, I wanted to show the situation in Hawaii and asked Ryan to send photos of his growing area and was confused when I received the following photo:

             Ryan clarified that he wanted to show what Hawaii looks like in early morning when it's COLD! The temperature outdoors at that early morning was likely between 55įF and 60įF.  By afternoon, it warms up about 10 degrees or so.   He wrote:  "My brother set his camera using a grey card to capture the natural lighting in the area.  Looking at this photo is as if you were standing next to me.  The colors are 100% natural and no color adjustments are made to the photo."

       This is the grey card my brother used.  When he snaps the photo of the light reflecting off the grey card.  It captures all the natural light in the room you're standing in.  It works for indoors and outdoors.  Each camera is different as the white balance will have to be pre-adjusted to allow the lighting to reflect the 100% natural lighting for each area you are in. 

        Here are 2 photos taken with my Cannon PowerShot Digital Camera.  Set to auto adjust so the colors are a bit off.  Even though the colors are nice, and the auto adjustments do a good job.  It does not reflect the 100% natural lighting. 

       Off color with auto setting.1: I move the plants around during the day to follow the sun, so the angles are a bit different.  This is a mid morning photo when the plants still face Diamond Head.

       Off color with auto setting.2: This photo was a few hours later in the afternoon when the sun has moved over the plants, and the plants moved to be able to catch maximum sun. 


       WOW!  I knew Ryan was a fanatic but did not realize that it extended to ACTUALLY MOVING THE PLANT RACK AROUND HIS YARD TO CATCH MAXIMUM SUN!!!

       It's obvious that Ryan has more interest and energy than the number of plants to satisfy his interest level.  For individuals like Ryan,  I strongly recommend getting more plants! 

      So one solution that will stay in his budget is to start him off to start a bunch of different types of cuttings and to assign him a project to document growth and make periodic reports.  When he visited, we sent some media home with him and getting him some different types of cuttings will help satisfy his enthusiasm, get him more plants to work on, and result in additional articles for the Journal of Tropical & True Indoor Bonsai.  

       See related story at: 






The Mid-Pacific Bonsai Foundation Journal of Tropical and True Indoor Bonsaiô is published monthly by email and is a benefit of Foundation membership. Annual dues are just $12 per year. For more information about becoming a member, go to www.fukubonsai.com/MPBF.html