60 days after a major restyling utilizing an innovative new
technique, new growth is emerging, the aluminum foil and all ties
have been removed, and the surface was dressed. The experiment was
wildly successful and; although we enjoyed a "sneak preview," we
prudently replaced the foil for another six months.
- By David W. Fukumoto,
- NOTE: This is a reprint of an article that
was first published in the
- American Bonsai Society Journal Volume
45; Number 3 (Fall 2011)
In 1972 the University of Hawaii introduced Dwarf Schefflera
to the then new Hawaii State certified nursery industry. The
industry introduced it to the country in such numbers that in the
trade the common name became "Hawaiian Umbrella Tree." In the early
days we struggled to train it and grew it only as medium or large
size bonsai. But, as we were successful in developing superior
clonal selections and improved our techniques, we realized that this
was the ideal True Indoor Bonsai™. By 2000 we had mastered ways to
train high quality small bonsai and made it our specialty.
I continue to be impressed with its unique growth traits. It is
better for creating banyan bonsai than any ficus. Initially we
developed training protocols to create very heavy root-trunk bases
with multiple trunks and low branches to become short, stout trees
with wide heavy canopies like the aged majestic banyan trees. We
called this "SUMO" styling. In time, we learned to create exposed
roots for a taller more elegant banyan bonsai and we called it
"ROOTS." Sumo and Roots seemed like the "book-ends" to represent
the outer edges of natural banyan styling forms.
As we continued to research and experiment, we identified uncommon
characteristics and our latest "HAWAIIAN DRAGON" styling exploits
and utilizes these unique traits for creative, interpretive,
imaginary, hyperactive, dragons!
learned that Dwarf Schefflera is very bendable. Dry it out for
several days and it becomes a bit limp but still stiff. Do not
force a bend as it will snap. Very patiently and for several days,
twist the trunk clockwise then counter clockwise --- back and
fourth, back and fourth. Move up a bit and repeat, repeat and
repeat. At one point you can feel the plant go slack and; if you
continue, you'll be able to create very tight turns that you can
wire to lock into desired positions. The vision of a happy, playful
dragon got stuck in my mind and it became a challenge to create
twisty, turny fun bonsai that reflected the spirits of dragons!
Initial efforts on the trunks and branches became "Top Dragons."
They proved popular with our most creative visitors and we shifted
to also creating character in exposed roots.
The tree featured in this article was one of our first successes.
It was grown from a seed planted in 2000 and is now eleven years
old. It had strong character in the upper woody sections but the
roots needed a lot more character. Aluminum foil columns created
lengthy straight roots but the challenge was to create more twists
and turns. Wiring the entire root column was only partially
successful. One day I got the wire armature idea and this article
shows my first efforts.
Other research is shifting us toward shallower containers to feature
the bonsai instead of an overly heavy pot. True Indoor Bonsai™ need
excellent drainage and this is possible in a shallow saucer-pot if
there is an abundance of drain holes across the entire bottom but
more heavily concentrated towards the center. Our initial trials
were very successful. We invite those interested in learning more
about the "FUKU-BONSAI 1:10 PROJECT". to go to