Fuku-Bonsai invites customers to email us as soon as possible if they suspect problems and over the years this has helped us to revise the cultural sheets sent out with our plants and there are very few problems emails in recent years.  So I try to respond to each as soon as I can.  I want to share this series because although it began as a possible problem, there may be a possibility to actually grow moss indoors, as well as develop aerial roots.  Here's excerpts from the email chain:


*** Received May 16, 2011 from "SD-Florida"

        I purchased a small dwarf schefflera from you in June of 2010 and it had been doing very well until last month. I follow your directions to the letter - we live in Florida  and I keep the plant on a window sill facing east for morning sun, I change the nutrient granule about every 3 months, I soak the plant (leaves included) in filtered water for an hour once a week, I use only filtered water, I keep the rock on gravel (sea glass) so that it is mostly out of the water with just the bottom in the water, the roots are tucked under, I have kept it pruned as directed.

        But now the leaves are turning yellow! Please help - I love my little tree. One thing - even though I clean the gravel/sea glass and the glass bowl once a week, there is moss on the rock and sometimes green slime in the bowl.  Thank you

*** DWF reply:

        Aloha,  I’ll try to help but need more information.  I’m not sure what you mean about CHANGING NUTRIENT GRANULES ABOUT EVERY THREE MONTHS.  How much do you use and how deep do you bury it?  Do you dig out and replace the Nutrient Granules? For a small lava planting, our instructions are to dig a small hole amongst the roots about ¼” deep and bury one granule every other month.  Two months later, dig another hole and bury another granule.

         We recommend watering by soaking for 30 minutes once per week and placing it on DRY GRAVEL.  It should have white root tips and I suspect that you are over-watering by placing it on WET SEA GLASS.  Please clarify and send me photos as soon as possible.  ~~~David

*** Received May 18, 2011 from "SD-Florida"

           Hi David,  thank you so much for getting back to me - I am amazed that, considering how many trees you sell, you found the time to communicate with a customer! I am attaching two photos of my poor little tree - I truly am sorry if I am killing it. And I am willing to change!  Six months ago this tree was green and flourishing, it is only in the last two months that the leaves began to turn yellow. I have been using one granule and putting it into the rock maybe an eighth of an inch, taking out the old one.  So I need to put it in 1/4 inch and do it every other month.

          I have been submerging it in filtered water (as I was shown) but for an hour - so I will start doing a half hour.  The biggest mistake I am making is that I keep the rock with the water about half an inch up from the bottom - so too much water. If I understand you correctly the rock should sit above the water line with only the roots going in?  So I will start doing that.  I wonder if a glass bowl and seaglass are making it too hot?  Maybe I will switch to a wooden bowl and plain gravel - what do you think?

 You will see that it is way too sparse - I am probably overpruning but mostly I am removing yellow leaves. Wrong?  I am trying. Thanks for your help.  Mahalo.

*** DWF reply:

         Aloha  and thank you for your email and compliments.  Sometimes I can get replies back quickly but it may take some time for others.  I invite you to join our Fuku-Bonsai correspondence team as you are in a unique area that can add to our knowledge base.  You write and photograph well.  I think I can get you on the success path quickly.

         Your efforts have produced a unique result.  To now, we assumed that the moss on the rock would not be able to grow indoors because homes have dry air.  Your glass bowl is a “semi-terrarium” which is one of the areas that I have begun experiments as increasing the humidity will promote aerial roots.  But I think yours needs adjustments and beach glass not a good material.  Would you run some experiments and photo and report back?

         I like the glass bowl, but recommend that you use dark rough gravel of pea-size if possible.  Fill about 1/3 of the bowl height and try keeping the gravel DRY.  Once per week after soaking the rock after it stops most of the dripping, place on the dry gravel.  There will be some water and I think that is enough to keep the moss growing and provide humidity.

          I think you are pruning all new leaves as they emerge and you should allow them to grow.  Allow each growth point to grow out 7 leaves or so,  then cut back the entire branch just above where it was previously cut.  You can root the cut branches to create new plants.  Go to the “Training True Indoor Bonsai”  portal on the home page and open up Kathy’s page which will give you a good idea on how to prune and how your roots should be growing.  If your roots are white and vigorous,  prune back the roots whenever you prune back the top.

         That and keep adding Nutrient Granules should get your plant healthy.  May I have permission to use your photos and email excerpts?   Regards,  ~~~David



*** Received June 10, 2011 from "SD-Florida"

          Greetings David, here is the latest. In the photo you will see TWO trees - the healthy one is the one I brought back to my son a year ago at the same time I got mine (bought two from you that day). I asked him why his looked so much better than mine? He said he kept forgetting to water it! In other words it had spent much more time dry.  He goes to University of Florida in Gainesville where it is not quite as humid as here, and now he is traveling for the summer so left his tree with me.  

          I got river rock gravel (now I see that you wanted dark rough gravel... should I go ahead and look for that instead? I just liked the look of the river rock but will do as you advise) for both of them and since your last email I have done this:  1) soak in filtered water for half hour once a week, 2) put rock on DRY gravel, and 3) leave alone!

         It is really hard for me not to give the rock a tiny drink in the middle of the week - can I do that?  I can't see evidence on either tree that they will ever sprout a new branch, but at least I will try to keep them alive now. Thanks for your guidance.  Feel free to share my photos and email excerpts and my initials SD and state, but not my email.  Thanks!

*** DWF reply:

        Aloha and thank you for your email.  I am sending copy to FB sales so my staff can get to understand the situation.  I think now that all is well.  It looks like your moss is slightly drying out, but look for an increasing number of white root tips.  Be sure to add one nutrient granule buried in a pencil hole in the rock-root area every other month.

       From what I can see, you prune off the new growth so the next new growth should emerge right at the joint of the end leaf stem where it joins to the branch.  This should emerge within a month.  Let it develop and take photos when a second leaf emerges on that growth.  If you feel the need to trim,  remove the oldest leaf after the new growth has three leaves. River rock gravel is fine and looks nice.                

       Your son’s watering works fine because you’re using a high wall glass bowl.  Notice that the green moss doesn’t occur with his so that might be a good thing to advise college students prone to forget to water! I think all will be well soon.  Warm regards,  ~~~David








*** Received June 10, 2011 from "SD-Florida"

            A few months ago when I first  wrote to you, I was convinced my little tree was dying. Now, thatnks to your good advice, a new branch has appeared!  My son's plant has a new branch as well. Yay!   Thank you so much!

 *** DWF reply:

         Aloha and mahalo for the great news and newest photo!  I think all will be okay until the tree develops about 5-7 new leaves and by then the oldest leaves still on will be turning yellow and dropping off.  After it reaches 5-7 new leaves, the leaves will begin enlarging.  If one branch is growing strongest cut that one first to remove the 4-5 leaf section, remove the oldest three leaves, cut two newest leaves in half and root the cutting per Loredana’s Page in the Training True Indoor Bonsai portal on the home page.  Coat the cut end with Vaseline.  As the other branches reach that stage, prune them off and root the cuttings.  Within a month or two, a replacement growth point will grow and this will keep your plant small.  If your fertilizing level follows our recommendation, you should not get any branch die-back. 

        I put the story together at so you and your son can check it. Feel free to add comments.  I think you’ve shown that our plants are able to grow under various care regimes and hope they bring joy to you and your son for many years. Please send me photos from time to time so anyone will be able to see the growth over time in your glass “semi-terrarium.”   I am especially interested in seeing if the moss continues to grow and if aerial roots and strong white root tips develop.  Regards,  ~~~David





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