Now almost two years after up-potting a 4LL8 Sumo into a 8" diameter x 2" deep pot, it's time to move it into the premium 1:10 Project.

         Since the tree was up-potted in June of 2011,  it's been 23 months and the tree was simply allowed to grow to develop a heavier trunk and branches.  Note that a number of aerial roots have developed over the aluminum foil which is still in the original position. 
        The 12" diameter x 1.25" deep shallow saucer-pot has an abundance of drain holes.  Set the x-tie wires.  Fill half the depth with coarse bottom and tamp down firmly with the bottom of a can. Sprinkle some finer coarse gravel to help seal the surface so the body media won't sift through.  Build a hill where the plant will be placed and firm it up.  Cut a plastic separator about 3" in diameter and fold it to be a "tent" to protect the bulk of the hill.
        Build up the hill with body media to cover over the plastic separator to flow over the hill and fill most of the saucer so 3" or so all around and inside the rim is slightly below the rim.  At this stage, the objective is to have a hill (that includes Nutrient Granules) that matches the shape of a hollow cone of roots.
        The tree is mostly barerooted and all roots untangled.  Bundles of roots are temporarily and loosely tied with bindwire (thin paper covered wire that will rust and rot away).  When the hollow cone of roots is formed, if necessary, increase the size of the hill.
       Position the tree on the hill and press down firmly for good contact with the media in the hill.  If necessary use bindwire to compress the roots at the base of the hill so the hill does not overly flare out too wide.  Fill as much body media between the roots.  With the tie-wire, go over the top of the trunk and tie tree firmly to the saucer, using a pliers to pull up tight and twist.  Use the other pair of wires to solidly anchor the plant to the saucer.

      Tear off a piece of aluminum foil three times the diameter of the container (12"D x 3 = 36") from a roll 12" wide.


        First crumple the full 36" length so the 12" width becomes about 6" wide.  By crinkling the foil, it is easier to get it to conform to almost any shape.

         Starting from one end, bend up about 3" or half the width and create "finger flutes" about 1" apart.  This compresses half of the foil while the other half stays flattish.  It naturally will form a "hat-like ring" that goes around the plant.
         Start with one end and place the straighter edge just inside of the saucer's rim and press the 3" of flattish foil down against the media firmly to help hold the very loose gravelly media in place. 
          Upon going completely around,  overlap and fold over the ends of the foil first at the outer edge until the entire 6" foil width is connected and the bottom 3" wide foil is pressed into contact with the media surface.  Start choking up against the lower part of the aerial roots that is easier to fill with body media.
           Continue to choke up the foil against the roots and as you get closer to the top,  pour in enough body media to fill any gaps between the roots and complete firming the foil, then creating a water-catching funnel to make watering easier. 
            The 12" shallow plastic saucer was designed by Fuku-Bonsai in the 1970's to serve as a display saucer (with gravel) for our large size Hawaiian Lava Plantings.  It has three feet so is steady like a tripod.  Starting from one leg, bring the thin monofilament tape up and across the foil to a second leg, then across the bottom to the third leg, up and across another section of foil, down and under to a leg, then up across to cover the third section of foil.  Continue back to the next leg and come up diagonally up the cone until you can choke just below the water-catching funnel.  
         With a dibble, pencil, or scissors make 1/4" air holes 1" apart throughout the foil.  Locate the primary apex point and using a "dive-bomber cut" with scissors held straight up and down,  cut to add just a short section that is twice the thickness of the limb being cut.  It it is 3/8th inch thick, add only 3/4" long.  Allow your branch to grow out long and strong before pruning back.  Do not continuously cut back too early or your branches or trunks will not thicken!
           Branches are cut back with  "flat cut" so the scar is on the top of the branch.  This will likely cause the new branches to develop on the sides and bottom of the remaining branch section to grow outwards and not upwards to help create a widened crown.  Allow the new almost horizontal sections to be two to three times the thickness of the branch.  The cut should be lower than the apex cut. 
            Another apical upwards growing section was cut with a dive-bomber cut and the last branch is being shortened with a flat cut. 
           One small section remains and is left on to help the tree recover.  Thickening and raising up a SUMO is the easiest of the tree major styling concepts.  It is very important to shape the profile of the soil surface as roots will develop through and appear to be a stout massive root buttressing that is the characteristic of tropical banyan trees. The tree should grow vigorously then cut back to add more character and interest.  Strong trees send out more new growth.  Keep the ones aimed in the right direction and adding character and rub off the excess.  Build out to create the banyan crown!  
***  Go to Advanced Roots 1:10 Project
***  Return to May 2013 Journal of Tropical & True Indoor Bonsai
***  Go to Mid-Pacific Bonsai Foundation home page
***  Go to Fuku-Bonsai home page
         Mid-Pacific Bonsai Foundation & Fuku-Bonsai, 2013