This year's shipping generally went well and as far as we know, there was just a single "damage in shipment." But it was not the usual shipping damage in which a parcel is badly frozen and the plant arrives completely black with the newest branch growth black and dead. When we learn of such arrivals, we request return of the plant for study and replacement under our standard Fuku-Bonsai satisfaction and safe arrival limited warranty. The plant was ordered by phone on December 8, 2012 and shipped to Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania on December 12 with expected arrival December 14. The forecast high temperature was 46F and 31F which was close enough to our "minimum 32F. So we shipped using a 60-hour shipping heat pack. On December 14 I received the following email:


         Hi, I just picked up my tree from FedEx as they made a mistake with the address, I opened up my tree and almost all the leaves have dropped. What are your recommendations? I have a west window with supplemental fluorescent lights that can equal to full sun. I attach some pictures of the tree. I also have one question. I would like to remove the tree from the lava. How can I go about doing this? I have a very nice pot I'd like to use. ~Jon

             I emailed back:    "Aloha Jon with regrets to see cold damage enroute. You can return for replacement and that may be the best solution as you plan to remove the plant from the rock and pot it. If you plan to do so, it is better to do it now. The safest way is to take a hammer, hold the plant upside down in your hand, and hit the center bottom of the lava rock to break it apart. This will cause the least damage to the roots compared to trying to pull it or digging it out of the rock.

             I note that staff selected a plant that is far above standards and if the newest tip growth is not damaged and new leaves emerge, it is very likely the plant will recover in a few months and conversion into a pot would likely be successful in spring. If you decide to go this route, would you photograph the process and send me photos and captions?

             The alternative is to return the cold damaged rock planting and pay the difference between it and an item 4LL8-Sumo. If you cover the postage cost to send it back, we will cover the cost of getting the exchanged plant to you per Fuku-Bonsai's limited safe arrival warranty. Wrap it up with a number of layers of crumpled newspaper, polybag, additional crumpled newspage and send back by postal air priority mail. So you have two alternatives and request you email what you will do. Hope you agree this is fair and addresses shipping damage as well as your preferance for potted bonsai. What size is your bonsai pot?  Regards, ~~~David

On Saturday, December 16, I received:

        I would definitely like to keep the plant, it has perfect branch structure and was exactly what I was looking for. If you think it can survive I'll do my best to revive it. I've brought many plants back from the brink of death to thrive. I can take pictures along the way for you. I am not sure it was cold damage that dropped the leaves. When I opened the tree it was soaked and the heat pack by the rock heated the tree to a very hot temperature. What are your thoughts ~Jon

On Sunday, December 17, 2012 I received his photo report that follows. ~~~David


 By Jon Putt (Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania)
       This is a fast draining soil I use for all of my bonsai and potted trees which is a mixture of perlite, potting soil and orchid bark.  The ratios:

       70% to 80% Perlite

       15% to 20% Potting Soil

        2% to 5% Orchid Bark   (Ratios don't need to be perfect)

         Here is where I made the first break using a hammer and chisel. It pulled off very easily.

(David's note:  We bare-root and rock plant 2 to 4 year old pre-trained Dwarf Schefflera into the rock with just a little media and the tree quickly becomes "pot-bound," grows very slowly, and are great for gifts!)

          After a second break point and hitting the rock with a hammer, the tree came out easily.  

(David's note:  Jon lucked out as the staff had sent him a well developed plant that was very high above our sales and promotional standards.  Rock planting tends to encourage plants to grow very compactly and the tree is obviously a great start for a small potted bonsai!)

         Here is the future pot with a single layer of coffee filter. The coffee filter is to temporarily keep the soil from falling out of the hole.  It will eventually decompose. I poked five holes in the filter so the water comes out easier. 
        I filled up the pot and wiggled the plant to the depth that looked right.
       Here is the Dwarf Schefflera in its new location. This is a west window with supplemental 24w spiral fluorescent light. Plant on the right is a Serrissa (Snow Rose) with a Silver Thyme on the left.
               Each year we get better at cold weather shipping and for the past two years, there was not even a single instance of cold damage.  This is the story of 2012's only failure that we believe was caused by our error in using too small a shipping container and allowing heat to build up too high.  We've experienced this in the past where the leaflets completely fall off the leaf stems and remaining green.  The new leafs that are emerging are not damaged at all and Jon reports that leaves are developing well and he'll send a photo when the tree is again fully leafed.  He ended up with the tree being kept and treasured with a happy ending!

***  Return to MPBF Journal of Tropical and True Indoor Bonsai Premier Issue. January 2013

Olaa Road (PO Box 6000), Kurtistown, Hawaii 96760
Phone (808) 982-9880; FAX (808) 982-9883; Email:

*** Go to Fuku-Bonsai Home Page *** Go to Training True Indoor Bonsai Portal Page

  Fuku-Bonsai and Mid-Pacific Bonsai Foundation, 2013