The Fuku-Bonsai Entry Tree is one of the oldest Dwarf Schefflera Bonsai. The original plant was ground planted in 1974.  Three sections were collected and assembled as part of a staff workshop in 1985 when Fuku-Bonsai became a corporation. The name of the tree is "HUI HANALIKE" which in Hawaiian translates to a group working together.





          Fuku-Bonsai begins a new era!  We are emerging from a very dark and difficult period in which defective Benlate contamination residue prevented the growing of our original Brassaia crops and forced us to develop a totally new specialty.  By chance we were amongst the first to grow Dwarf Schefflera (Schefflera arboricola) as bonsai. The plant is endemic to southeast Asia.

         Initially it was difficult for plant collectors to find specimens as goats ate all exposed plants. The original plants introduced into Hawaii in the late 1960's were discovered on rocky cliffs and as epiphytes growing in trees in Taiwan.  The University of Hawaii distributed plants to members of the then new Hawaii certified export nurseries who introduced them to the trade to such an extent that the plant became known as the "Hawaiian Umbrella Tree."

          In Japan, bonsai masters very carefully select superior plants to grow from seeds or cuttings and we followed this in selecting the Fuku-Bonsai Dwarf Schefflera propagative stock.  Initially it was only available as cuttings and we selected the best available and ground-planted them,  retaining only those that developed desirable characteristics.  In our early efforts we were only able to grow medium and larger size Hawaiian Lava Plantings, but when forced to do so after Benlate forced us to switch, we learned to grow small and desk sizes.

          Over time we developed training techniques to improve quality and produce stronger plants.  We elevated our culling criteria that there must be trunk character and interest (and low branches if possible) within one inch of the soil line and a compact, complex root system within 1/2" of that soil line.  This dramatically improved character and the quality of all of our product lines and makes possible the INTRODUCTORY WORKSHOP PACKAGE (IWP-8). Almost 50 years after starting bonsai, we are developing a bonsai that can be grown successfully by beginners in any part of the United States!

            FUKU-BONSAI'S TRUE INDOOR BONSAI IS NOW THE MOST SUCCESSFUL FOR ANYONE ANYWHERE WHO CAN GROW HOUSEPLANTS!  HAWAIIAN LAVA PLANTINGS are great easy-care gifts for home and offices! POTTED BONSAI are faster growing and all have potential for those who enjoy training bonsai.  The INTRODUCTORY WORKSHOP PACKAGE is the easiest way to learn, grow, and teach bonsai!  Having reached our goal, it's time to define new challenges to be incorporated into creating the FUKU-BONSAI 9-INCH SAUCER DWARF SCHEFFLERA BONSAI COLLECTION!
          Dwarf Schefflera is the ideal houseplant bonsai and far superior to other plants.  So if a person wants to develop a collection, it would be helpful to have some examples of how the tree can be trained. Initially all of our trees were trained in "SUMO" (reduction-building) methods that produced heavy and multiple trunks, low branches, and banyan-like crowns.  These were ideal for lava plantings, potted bonsai, and the introductory workshops.  The tree on the front right shows a well developed sumo-type form.

        Customers encouraged us to develop additional styles and we next produced "ROOTS!"  Banyans are the most exotic tropical tree form and visitors loved aerial roots!  So our second major styling has exposed roots with a sumo-type crown and this has become our most popular potted style. They are popular for root-over-rock training. The tree in the center front has the qualities associated with roots-type styling.

        "HAWAIIAN DRAGONS!" are the newest styling concept.  They all start with a sharp bend and these are often transplanted at different angles including being trained into cascade or semi-cascade styles.  Some are "Top Dragons" with twist-turny trunks that are lively fun bonsai.  Others have "Bottom Dragons" concepts that feature twisted roots. These three are the basic Fuku-Bonsai styling.        





        This is a closeup view of the tree I'm holding in the first photo and represents the highest quality produced to date and the optimum goal for the future!  This tree began as a "Top Dragon" with heavy "Sumo" style pruning.  The objective is to create a Fuku-Bonsai Dwarf Schefflera Collection all in 9-inch diameter x 1" deep saucers in as many styles as possible to demonstrate the range of styling possible.  The first photo shows the first five as we begin the collection. 

         The tree on the back right is a tree first trained as a "Roots," then bare-rooted and rock planted on a unique rock to be the subject of another article.








          There are several reasons that the Fuku-Bonsai plastic 9" saucer was selected for this collection.  It's my favorite bonsai size.  Prior to starting Fuku-Bonsai, my best bonsai were in this size range.  Because the small size, you can get nicely shaped plants in a few years compared to the time it takes to create larger bonsai.  Shallow pots present a number of challenges.  They are harder to water to prevent blasting the media out of the shallow pots.  These require special techniques as shallow pots tend to drain poorly.  Being shallow, they dry out quickly if grown outdoors. 

          But there are also several advantages of using shallow wide containers compared to more compact deeper containers. A general bonsai guideline is for the depth of the pot to be equal or smaller than the thickness of the trunk of the bonsai.  Most of the Fuku-Bonsai plastic pots are two inches deep and the 8" diameter x 2" deep and the 17"x12"x2" oval pot work well.  The following is a photo sequence of how the plant above was potted into the shallow 9" saucer.


   1.  For good drainage, shallow saucers require a number of small 1/4" holes rather than just one or two larger holes. The saucer is shown with tie-down wire in three holes. The plant to be transplanted was grown in a 6x4"x2" rectangular pot.
   2.  The coarse bottom material is hilled in the center between all drain holes.  Note the tie-down wires sticking out.  Fuku-Bonsai uses a "plastic separator that is the same shape of the pot but half the length to protect the body media from clogging the drainage layer.  The pot is 9 inches in diameter so the plastic separator is 4 1/2" in diameter.  Add body media to fill so just the top of the plastic separator is visible.  Remove plant from pot, remove media on upper edge to expose roots and the coarse bottom from the previous pot.  Place the material removed in a high hill over the center of the pot.
   3.  Position the plant and press down firmly.  Using two of the three tie wires, twist and secure the plant.  In this case with a high root ball, with the aid of an icepick, one of the tie wires was threaded through the root ball before being twisted. Use the other wire to twist and hold in place. Use a needle nose plier to assure it holds the plant snuggly.  If done properly, you should be able to lift the entire planting by lifting up on the trunk without the plant shaking.  Complete firming the media with a spoon.
   4.  Set the water level at 1" deep and sit the saucer in for 30 minutes or so until any organic matter in the potting mix is thoroughly saturated.  Drain and firm down, then use a minimum of the fine top dressing to smooth and dress the surface.  It's time to enjoy the plant, to set it at eye level and to turn carefully to select branches and to remove older leaves to offset any roots lost.  I recommend against hasty removal of branches that took many years to develop as it is not possible to glue back a branch incorrectly removed. 
   5.  Here's the plant with potting completed and with some older leaves removed.  Just two small branches were removed and others may be removed in the future.  This tree is planted high and off-center in the pot a bit closer to the right side as the direction of growth is towards the left.  The tree will have a heavy banyan-like crown of foliage about the width of the saucer.  Over time, some roots will develop and be exposed to add more bulk to the base.  In shallow saucers such as these, the plant is not completely removed.  From time to time about 1/3 of the potting media in about three pie-shaped sections is replaced with new media. 
       I'm really looking forward to developing this collection in the same container in as many different styles as possible.  Of all plants trained as bonsai, I believe it is possible to train Dwarf Schefflera into more shapes than any other plant!  Over the many years of my bonsai career, this tree has clearly become my favorite and I like the idea of going back to my favorite 8" to 12" tall bonsai size. 

        It grows quickly and is very durable and doesn't demand a lot of care.  This tree is about 7-8 years in training from seed.  At Fuku-Bonsai we grow a huge quantity of plants to spread out our costs and just cannot give each plant individual care. Our plants are excellent values and the highest quality available anywhere.

        As Fuku-Bonsai begins a new era, I'm proud of the progress that we've made and the great ideas that we have to create more and more advanced workshop prepared bonsai stock.  The plants that will be going into these 9" saucers are really the prototypes for future Fuku-Bonsai products.  We are totally committed to the highest quality and growing for the future!

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