TRUE INDOOR BONSAI™ FAQ

               Why doesn't Fuku-Bonsai sell traditional Japanese Black Pine bonsai or outdoor bonsai?  Ethically, outdoor bonsai can only be sold to those who live in a similar climatic zone and to those who have the knowledge and discipline to grow these difficult plants.  If sold to those without sufficient skills,  the plants quickly die. We recommend that you consider purchasing outdoor bonsai only from a grower that lives close enought to visit and obtain specific information for caring for the outdoor bonsai. Consult with your local arboreteum or garden club for recommendations for the most successful outdoor bonsai in your area. Start with common plants that survive. Plants that are rarely seen as outdoor bonsai are rare because they keep dying. We want our plants to bring joy and for our customers to be successful. Our True Indoor Bonsai are suitable for those who can grow houseplants and for those who do not have the commitment, time, or facilities to grow more difficult outdoor bonsai.

             HELP! MY PLANT IS DYING!  Too often, that's all we receive. We need more!

1.    What kind of plant do you have? If it was not from us, have you contacted your source?

2.    If it is from us, what plant variety? What size? Rock planted or potted? When did you get it?

3.    Describe symptoms? How many leaves have grown? Describe the new leaves.

4.    Is the trunk firm, shriveled or sappy?

               POST-MORTUM AUTOPSY INFORMATION. Sometimes we get calls after the last leaf turns black. Generally plants die from either over-watering or under-watering. When they are over-watered, the roots rot and the trunk is soft. Sometimes enthusiastic new growers want fantastic growth so they give the plant strong outdoor fertilizer.  This burns and kills the roots and the symptoms are like over-watering.  Under-watering is easy to spot. If you look carefully at the trunk, you can see tiny creases because the plant is shriveling up.  Too often we get notes that a plant is dying, that they followed directions exactly, but what should they do? With only that much information, it's impossible to help. Too often, when asked how they're caring for the plant, we've heard some weird things!  "I took GREAT care of the plant! It's never ever dried out as 1/2 of the rock was ALWAYS in Water!"  WOW! That's nothing like our cultural information!  Please call us right after you receive the plant if you have questions. Being a plant coroner is distressing!

                What are the traits of Fuku-Bonsai's Lava Rock Plantings?  Everyone seems to be fascinated by trees growing in rocks.  Our plants are all well established.   Even our youngest offerings are several years old.  We build a lot of character into the tree before rock-planting;  and once established,  the tree tends to be a survivor.  If grown from a seed in a rock cavity,  it would take an extraordinary amount of pampering to get the plant to grow.  Such pampered plants need an ideal environment and special care.  In contrast,  we try to make our plants "customer-proof!"  We're tickled every time we get a note that a customer or gift recipient is successful even though they weren't successful growing ordinary house plants!  Trees that are grown with restricted roots need consistent care and a stable environment.  But once adapted to a specific environment,   there's a good chance it will thrive for a long time.  The better the light and care, the longer they will live. If your display area is dark, consider having two or three plants to rotate with one being displayed and the others kept in the best lighted area available. 

            Why living sculpture?  When roots go through or over the rock into the media in a pot,  the larger root system produces stronger growth.  This allows cutting back more often and the tree develops a more complex structure. For those wanting the full challenge of growing and training bonsai,  the potted bonsai concept is more appropriate. With a larger root system, you'll get stronger growth and have more successful training. Once you have an appropriate plant with some character, the amount of success that you'll have is directly proportional to your ability to create the optimum environment. 

              How long do True Indoor Bonsai live?   We still have our first Brassaia that's been in training since 1962.  We've been shipping to all parts of the United States since 1973 and every so often we hear from our early customers who are delighted that their Fuku-Bonsai is still growing well.  There are two basic ways to grow True Indoor Bonsai:  1) As rock plantings,  and 2) As living sculpture with the rock planting trained to have roots growing through or over the rock into media in a pot. We believe the living sculpture method produces the healthier longer-living plant.

              Can   XXXXXXXX  be trained into a bonsai? Somehow this question almost always comes up in an introductory bonsai discussion.  A lot depends upon what you're willing to call a bonsai. By traditional Japanese outdoor bonsai standards,  ideal bonsai plant varieties are long-lived woody trunked trees with a lot of branching capability, small leaves,  ability to sprout new growth from old wood,  and ability to thrive and survive even when root-bound.  Few,  if any,  trees meet all of these criteria.  I tend to not want to get into discussions of this nature as it seems more suited to those who want to discuss horticulture.  For those wanting to train bonsai,  the guidelines are simple.

                Can you advise me how to take care of my XXXXXXXX bonsai?  I regret not being able to offer specific assistance. It is impossible to be a "plant doctor" without being able to see the "patient."  But I can offer general recommendations that may help:  1)   First identify the plant and look it up in horticultural reference texts.   The plant determines the type of care,  amount of light,  water requirements,  temperature range and other conditions that it requires in its natural environment.  The first challenge is to keep the plant growing healthily by providing the appropriate care and the more you know the conditions of the original habitat,  the better your chances of success!  2)   Get as much information from the person who gave or sold you the plant!   All ethical professional bonsai growers will provide detailed cultural information that identifies the plant,  provide information as to the temperature, water, and light requirements. They'll have their names, addresses, and phone numbers to try to help. 3)   Consult bonsai growers in your area! Bonsai people are generally friendly and like to assist.  Consider joining a local club. Check with the nearest botanical garden or garden shop to locate bonsai hobbyists near you.  In contrast,  we are often very successful in making recommendations to improve the health of our True Indoor Bonsai!  We know our plants well and have had enough customer feedback over the years to be able to assist in various regions of the country. 

             What's the best way to get rid of insects that may appear on indoor bonsai?  Mealy bugs, scales, aphids, and mites are the most common.  Use room temperature soapy dishwater and a Q-tip to dislodge the pests. Once scales and mealy bugs are removed,  use the Q-tip to scrub where they were to get rid of any eggs.  Use a soft paintbrush to gently scrub the leaves, stems and trunk. Observe carefully and repeat every few days if necessary. Generally,  if you're enjoying you bonsai,  you'll spot insects before they reach epidemic stage.  These generally suck plant juices but even a major infestation rarely can not kill a tree. This method is preferable for indoor bonsai rather than using smelly insecticides.

           How do I kill "tiny bugs" without killing the plant?   Note that "tiny flying bugs" are different from mealy bugs, scales, or aphids. These somehow appear when dying plant tissue attracts them.  So their appearance is a danger sign that the plant is not healthy.  In stead of trying to kill the tiny bugs, focus on the care that you're giving the plant.  Are you overwatering or underwatering?  Are you fertilizing excessively?  Too often by the time you notice tiny bugs or that a plant is dying, that there's not much that you can do.  Brassaia especially will die when over-watered and roots and trunk rots. This attracts tiny bugs and after the plant dies, the trunk is soft and rotted. 

              How did Fuku-Bonsai become prominent in True Indoor Bonsai?  House plants are generally tropical plants and our True Indoor Bonsai are house plants trained in the bonsai manner.  Hawaii has the largest per capita number of bonsai growers in the world because of the ease of growing bonsai in our naturally mild climate.   We have the oldest English-speaking bonsai community in the Western world.   We're independently thinking Americans who don't automatically accept and follow rules.  So when we wanted to create bonsai that could thrive indoors,  we had no problem picking and choosing the applicable outdoor bonsai guidelines and applying them to house plants. It's a combination of being familiar with the appropriate plants,   having bonsai knowledge,  and following Western innovative development methods.

               How did Fuku-Bonsai come to be the host for the Hawaii State Bonsai Repository?   In the 1960's,  the bonsai leaders were mostly 20 or more years older than me.  But they were the people I admired and who came to be my best friends.   Dr. Clay especially encouraged those of us from shy Asian cultures to take stronger Western-type leadership roles and to establish high standards.  Ted Tsukiyama and Dr. Clay were already successful and believed that bonsai should be freely shared with everyone.  Haruo Kaneshiro was willing to share his knowledge,  but stressed that each person follow his own "bonsai path."  From the late 1960's our group researched and attempted to create a public bonsai collection but the logistics were too over-whelming.  In becoming the primary Hawaiian bonsai professional,  I had the opportunity to create a huge personal bonsai collection.  But when my children decided not to follow my bonsai path, we formed a corporation with a commitment to create a public bonsai garden.   This allows my collection to also survive into the future.  The creation of the non-profit Mid-Pacific Bonsai Foundation was the vehicle for other outstanding bonsai to be donated and enter the public domain and to be enjoyed by visitors.

            How and why was the Mid-Pacific Bonsai Foundation created?  In 1986,   shortly after the corporation took over,  we received word that Sadakichi Sugahara,  the bonsai master of Kauai, was dying and wanted to donate his bonsai collection to be sold to help raise funds to build the Fuku-Bonsai Center.  Sadakichi was an extraordinary person with a close loving family.  They had hosted several of us from Honolulu to an Ironwood collecting expedition to the fabled hills of Hanamaalu in the late 1960's. The Civilian Conservation Corp (CCC) had attempted to reforest the eroded hillsides during the early 1930 depression years.  Trees that could not escape the planting holes in the dense clay-rock were stunted and made ideal bonsai stock. I did not feel it was appropriate for a corporation to accept such a generous bonsai gift and instead,  we formed the Foundation.   After Sadakichi passed away,  we accepted three bonsai on behalf of the foundation and helped to sell the remainder of the collection.  These funds went to the family,  but a large amount was used to purchase Fuku-Bonsai Inc. stock as each member of the Sugahara family became stockholders.  Since then,  other trees created by Sadakichi Sugahara and purchased at that sale by others have entered the Hawaii State Bonsai Repository.  Sadakichi's favorite Ironwood inspired the original logo of the Mid-Pacific Bonsai Foundation.

               What kind of bonsai can be grown in tropical Hawaii?  Hawaii is amongst the most isolated land masses and has relatively few indigenous trees.  The overwhelming number of trees in Hawaii were introduced from other countries and each year there are new plants. Although the land mass is small compared to continents,  there are an endless gradation of environments from very cold snowy mountain tops to sunny tropical beaches.  Many plants can survive if the ideal environment is found.  In the Kamuela area of the Big Island,  many temperate climate trees will grow well that can not survive in other parts of Hawaii.  But if a plant will only grow in one specific location,  it's likely not appropriate for growing as an export crop as it would not likely adapt to new regions with different growing conditions.

             How does the inherent horticulture traits influence bonsai styling? In a very few instances,  such a new plant is first introduced to the public in the form of an "artistic pot plant - bonsai" as in the case of Dr. Horace Clay's "Walking Mangrove."  New plants being trained continues to stretch the acceptable limits of what can be called bonsai.  I've enjoyed experimenting with new plants but have the luxury of having a lot of space,  low growing costs,  and a knowledge base of having grown a huge number of different plants. 

           How are Fuku-Bonsai plants packed and shipped?  Each Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday of each week is a scheduled Federal Express pick-up day.  Our limited wholesale accounts are repeat accounts and plants are selected, washed,  and dip-treated on a weekly schedule that also includes filling the retail sales area.   As orders come in,  they're logged into the sales book,  shipping schedule,  and a shipping packet made up.  Sometimes we can pack and ship out plants the next day with the plants arriving 1-2 days later.  We prefer to ship Continental U.S. orders on Monday or Tuesday so the plants won't be hung up over weekends.   Plants are cushioned,  wrapped in newspaper,  placed into polybags,   then strapped down to a heavy cardboard filler that fits snuggly into our shipping carton.  The filler is stapled to the carton,  the shipping packet enclosed,   carton closed up and sealed,  mailing label attached,  and certification stamps applied.  We utilize a large FEDEX shipping computer that bar codes each parcel to allow tracing and computing charges automatically.  When the FEDEX truck arrives,  the driver scans each parcel's bar code and off it goes under a satisfaction and safe arrival guarantee.

                Are Fuku-Bonsai products available wholesale?  Yes.  Due to the great amount of disciplined skill, desire to produce only high quality products, and the natural laws of economics,  Fuku-Bonsai has limits on its production and therefore have conditions of sale whereby we only offer items not already reserved on a standing order basis by existing accounts.  Our oldest account is Dan's Greenhouse in Lahaina, Hawaii and they are our exclusive outlet for the island of Maui.  Most other accounts are on the Big Island of Hawaii.  Hawaii State accounts feature our pre-package pre-inspected plants that can be handcarried back to all parts of the United States. We also offer quantity discounts to individuals, clubs, or companies.

                How do I learn more about bonsai?  Most of our customers are not members of bonsai clubs as they have many interests in life and are content to grow only Fuku-Bonsai's True Indoor Bonsai.  For those with an interest in reading and understanding bonsai (but prefer not to commit the time to grow them), we continue to build our website as an informational resource.  We are also selecting websites that we believe have valid information and provide links. For those with a larger interest in other more challenging forms of bonsai, we recommend joining a local bonsai club where you'll be able to obtain local specific information about outdoor bonsai.  To the best of our knowledge,  there are few if any bonsai clubs that are knowledgeable about houseplant bonsai. 

QUESTIONS REGARDING THE FUKUBONSAI.COM SITE:

              What are plans for further developing FUKUBONSAI.COM?  We are delighted with the results of our website and appreciate the candid feedback. In the short time that this website has been online,  we can already clearly see a trend. The website is an ideal education and business tool and it gives us good instant credibility with most potential customers. But until we hire a person that can take charge and grow and service website activity, we will grow slowly and discourage e-mails. More photographs and sketches are being added.  I will be writing and photographing bonsai to be able to preserve the stories, techniques, and philosophy that created the extraordinary trees in the Fuku-Bonsai Cultural Center & Hawaii State Bonsai Repository.  A lot of this will be put online and we will move into online and traditional publishing.   We fully intend to become the most comprehensive bonsai site in the world!

INTRODUCING THE BIG ISLAND OF HAWAII!   Most of our visitors and customers learn about Fuku-Bonsai from exhibits in Big Island hotels, restaurants, or members of Fuku-Bonsai Promotional Partner Program. These businesses know enough about us to recommend and distribute information about us.  We are honored that they know and appreciate us enough to do so!  It's a form of compliment that we could not buy and this gives us strong credibility.  The Big Island is a special place!

       (End of linked Indoor Bonsai Introductory articles)     FUKUBONSAI.COM      Fuku-Bonsai