COLD / HEAT DAMAGE

                Fuku-Bonsai ships to all states throughout the year whenever low temperatures are above freezing in the destination area.  Weather patterns throughout the country are fairly predicable if you follow it at least twice per week.  If the low temperature are rising from below freezing for a week or two, it's generally safe for us to ship the week after low temperatures are above freezing. There's a higher risk when temperatures are above freezing and getting colder or when a severe cold front hits the southern states where there are generally no problems. Other cold damage occurs when parcels have been pre-approved to be left at a sub-freezing location.

                But we goof too!  Fuku-Bonsai's 10-day limited satisfaction and safe arrival warranty is our commitment to get the plants to you safely.  We have never had any quality control problems as we tend to use photos on the lower end of our quality range in our sales materials and consistently ship equal or superior.  But if plants arrive in unsatisfactory or damaged condition, the terms of the warranty require the recipient to notify us as soon as possible.  Here's the story of one such damaged shipment, but first, I'd like to introduce Ray Vaughn:

Here's a space that I'd love to have a photo of you with the plant in a polybag with the vapor 100% humidity. Don't worry if the plant can't be clearly seen.     Ray:  Here's some space for you to introduce yourself and to summarize our project.  I hope you'll include the hope that we'll all benefit from this experience.  Please go to Loredana's Page to see the "Model" of what I'm planning.
COLD DAMAGED HD8(S&G) SENT TO RAY VAUGHN
January 12, 2003:  Fuku-Bonsai received a direct PayPal Payment and order for an HD8(S&G) with full payment and the following note: 
        "I saw your trees at the Hilton Waikoloa this past week and want to order the HD8 for my office. Beautiful Plants. PLEASE SHIP FOR ARRIVAL ON OR AFTER JAN 21ST."
 
January 13, 2003: By email, the order was acknowledged, a day phone number was requested as required by Federal Express and the shipment was scheduled for Monday, January 20 with expected arrival on Thursday the 23rd, but possibly on the 22nd,  subject to shipping weather. The True Indoor Bonsai Beginner Handbook was recommended.
        By email, Ray confirmed the shipping date and forwarded another PayPal Payment for the handbook.
 
January 21, 2003:  By email, a confirmation was sent that the parcel was shipped on Tuesday, Jan. 20 (as Monday happened to be Martin Luther King Day) with expected arrival on Friday, Jan. 24 with the FedEx tracking number and information on how to track the parcel. To this point, the order was going along routinely.
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January 26, 2003:  Email from Ray:     "David, I'm sad to report that the bonsai I recently ordered from you arrived very frost damaged.  I don't think it is going to survive.  I am including the FedEx tracking report below so you can see what occurred.  The south encountered the coldest weather in the past ten years last Wed through Sat.  The plant arrived on Friday with outdoor temperatures in the teens and low 20's .  .  .  Is there anything I can do to save this plant?  I'm willing to work with it if you suggest .  .  .  Please advise.  Ray"
 
       Reply to Ray:   "Aloha Ray and thank you for the note.  It's always a risk shipping plants in questionable weather and my staff goofed on your shipment.  Generally we should be able to predict the temperatures if we check temperatures a few days ahead and the previous week. We're usually successful if the temperatures are rising and shouldn't be shipping when we're on the borderline and the temperatures are falling. That makes my head shipper a bit of a weather forecaster and I think she was paying more attention to the northern states and wasn't watching your area enough!
 
        Let's use this as an opportunity to learn and teach and I request your assistance.  Can you take a clear photo ASAP and again in a few days?  Generally, a cold-damaged plant will have very dark leaves that turn a mushy black within a few days.  In extreme cases, the trunk turns black too and the plant is gone.  But if your trunk color is okay, we may be able to save it.
 
        Trim off all leaves except the youngest and second youngest on each branch and take another photo showing the same side.  Place a plate into a large ziplock bag to help spread out the bottom, soak the plant, then place it into the bag, blow it up, and seal.  Place it in a warm location (70 degrees + if possible) in bright window light where it may get a hour or two of sun.  Removing some of the leaves will reduce the load.  100% humidity will further reduce the load and give the roots the best chance to recover. 
 
          If your leaves don't turn black, you've got good odds.  If you'll assist and allow me to use your comments and photos on the website,  I'll send another similar plant when it warms up a bit and you can have some fun comparing the growth rates of the two plants sent under different conditions.  There are so very few problems in the past year so we try to use each as an opportunity to learn more. 
 
          In the old days, we shipped only when low temperatures are above 50 degrees F. But as we got better, we became more adventurous and now ship whenever low is above 28 degrees F. (but to stable or warming areas) .  .  .  Hope all of the above is okay.  I look forward to your thoughts .  .  .  I'm very fortunate to be able to live my lifestyle so setting a goal of 100% customer success is a good "pay-back."  .  .  .    In the coming year,  more will become corresponding members of our study group with their own page on our site.  I hope you'll be one too!   Regards and mahalo!  ~~~David

        Response from Ray:  "Thanks David.  I'll certainly do as you ask and will take photos tonight.  The trunk hasn't turned dark at all and I'm hopeful we can save the plant.  I'll keep you posted .  .  .  I will certainly give you permission to post any pictures I send and any success in restoring the plant.  Maybe it will work. Ray"

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         January 27, 2003: David, here are the pictures I took last night.  I'm going to send them in two emails so I don't overwhelm your email download. You can see the trunk in these and it looks to me like it is salvageable. I understood your email below that I should wait a few days before I trim the leaves.  I soaked it again last night for an hour - the rock seemed dry to the touch.  I'll send pictures again in a few days. Ray
       
        Aloha Ray and thank you for sending great photos! Your photos visually show me what other customers have described.  Please trim off any of the leaves that are obviously cold damaged including the discolored ones or those whose leaf stems have collapsed.  Trim about 1/4" away from the trunks. But leave one or two of the ones that have stems that have not collapsed but show that have that oily look.
        Soak the rock planting one more time, then place it in a sealed large ziplock bag, place it in a warm location and place it where it gets bright indirect light. The bag should sweat and the 100% humidity will help it recover.  Keep it sealed for at least two weeks with no additional watering needed.   If you see the newest leaves developing, the crisis will be over.  I am confident it will survive. Regards and mahalo!  ~~~David
         Note:   I should mention that Rayford B. Vaughn is an Associate Professor at the Department of Computer Science at Mississippi State University and I look forward to him being a website resource.
 
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       January 28, 2003: David, I trimmed the plant and bagged it as you suggested.  I'm sending photos again - the first is of the plant and the trimmings.  The other These photos should correspond to the same views that you had earlier before the leaves were trimmed.  I'll continue to photograph from these same three angles. Ray
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       WOW!  Ray, the photos are GREAT!  First notice the quality of the HD8 compared to the sales photo at Gift List #1!  You lucked out and got a tree that greatly surpasses and is much older than our model standard. They're almost the same age as the more costly "Restaurant Special" that are used as centerpieces on the dining tables at the Palm Terrace at the Hilton Waikoloa where you first saw our plants. 
 
        Although the first set of photos were discouraging, when the damaged leaves were trimmed per instructions, the tree looks pretty good and has an excellent chance that it will survive! Trees that are cold damaged, fall into three categories.
 
   1.   MILD DAMAGE:  Leaves are wilted and droopy but show no "oily" or black spots.  Give it the 100% humidity first aid treatment and plants will likely be okay in a week or so. But contact us in the event that your plant doesn't respond quickly.
 
   2.   MEDIUM DAMAGE:  Ray's tree falls into this category. Stay tuned to see how it recovers.
 
  3.  SEVERE DAMAGE:  Leaves and trunks are BLACK!  The first time that I heard of this, I could not believe it.  All parts of the plant including the roots were completely frozen, there's no life at all, and the trunk becomes soft and mushy!  Plants exposed to extreme heat during the summer will have a similar appearance. Contact us immediately.   If you send a photo, we may not require return of the plant for replacement.
 
      In all of last year,  we lucked out and did not have a single plant that had this level of "medium damage" and NONE with "severe damage."  So we try to follow up with every possible one to try to keep improving!  We really appreciate customers like Ray and invite others to participate in learning and sharing!  The two requirements:  Being able to take clear photographs, and being able to correspond in a reasonable prompt manner.
 
       In this case, I'll be sending Ray another similar plant because he's an outstanding photographer and correspondent and willing to continue this report.  I've got some experiments in mind, with the first showing comparative growth of this plant vs. the one I'll be sending in warmer weather.  This may determine whether there will be 100% recovery of the cold damaged plant.
 
        Mahalo Ray!   ~~~David
 
To be continued.
FUKU-BONSAI CULTURAL CENTER & HAWAII STATE BONSAI REPOSITORY
     Olaa Road (PO Box 6000), Kurtistown, Hawaii 96760
     Phone (808) 982-9880;   FAX (808) 982-9883;  Email:  david@fukubonsai.com

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