DEVELOPING THE 9" PREMIUM 1:10 CONVERSION KIT

                   The concept of the 1:10 Project is a remarkable advance toward creating exceptional True Indoor Bonsai.  It builds upon the success of Fuku-Bonsai's Introductory Workshop Package that is the most successful way to learn or teach anyone, anywhere who can grow houseplants!

                   Generally a bonsai should be in a pot that has a depth equal to the bonsai's trunk.  Usually young bonsai are in pots that are two to four times the optimum depth.  A tree with a 1" trunk is in a 4" deep pot when it should be in a 1" deep pot!  Although our Introductory Workshop Package uses a 2" deep pot, because we employ a "plastic separator,"  the pot has excellent drainage and can easily be potted into a 1" deep pot!  But such shallow pots are hard to find, so we've modified Fuku-Bonsai's shallow saucers. 

                  We began teaching our staff the 1:10 Project in April of 2011 and Antonio Diaz was the newest staffer and assigned to do a basic SUMO.  Now in March 2013, Antonio's Sumo has developed well but his father just passed away in New Mexico, and Antonio and Kristy are moving  back.  I got to give him his last workshop that will be the basis for developing the "9" Premium 1:10 Conversion Kit."  This kit is the ideal size for potting a 4LL8 or the result of the Introductory Workshop Package. 

 

                  Meet Antonio Diaz who joined Fuku-Bonsai in 2011.   At the staff project introduction in April 2011 he holds up the SUMO in a shallow 7" diameter saucer.  Then we used a collar from a cut-down nursery pot to firm the media at the base of the plant.

                  *** Go to original staff training report

                  He holds up the same plant  23 months after planting. the collar has been removed, the hill and root mass tapered down,  branches grown out, trimmed back,  and the tree moving into refinement stage.                

                 As his last major workshop before returning to New Mexico, Antonio was given his choice of 4LL8-Roots to be potted in the proposed 9"Premium 1:10 Conversion Kit and he selected the tallest one.        

                For the 9" Conversion Kit we weren't sure whether the tie-downs should be a two-wire twisted into a x-tie or three wires twisted into a 6 wire-tie. We also left the wires extra long as we put together the specifications for the conversion kit.  

                Start by filling the bottom half of the saucer with coarse bottom material and tamp it flat with a small can.  This tightens up especially in the center where the plant will be. Its impossible to firm up this area later once the plant is in place.

                Build a small hill about 1" high and about 3" across and tamp it firm with the can.  Cut a 3" diameter plastic separator, crease it twice to from a tent over the hill, place some coarse bottom over the plastic tent, then cover with the medium body media to form a hill.  Antonio left a part of the tent uncovered for the photo, but completed before planting. The plastic separator assures that the finer body media will not clog the coarse bottom drainage layer below the plant.  

                 Remove the tree from the pot and gently scrap off all media over the surface roots.  Loosen the bottom and remove the media on the bottom.  At this point the roots are growing outwards and we used paper-covered wire to slightly bend the ends of the roots downwards so the roots form a shallow cone that fits nicely on the hill.

                  Antonio is adding body media with a small can and spoon to cover the roots and to blend into the hill with a minimum of media

                The tie-down wire went through the roots and was tied with a wire on  the opposite side.  Pull up the two ends firmly,  twist, and twist tight with a needle nose pliers.  The first tie was sufficient to hold the tree tight, but we will include a "X-wire tie with the kit so participants will have two chances to firmly secure the tree. 

                Antonio did not have any problems securing the plant to the saucer.  When done properly the entire planting can easily be lifted by the trunk without any shakiness.

                 A small amount of additional body media is added to improve the profile.  Note that the material along the edges are lower than the rim of the saucer.  It will take four months or so before the loose gravelly media firms up and we utilize an aluminum foil collar to hold the media in place.

                 To form the collar,  tear off aluminum foil about 2 1/2 times the diameter of the saucer.  So a 9" saucer would need a foil about 22 1/2" long.  With hands on both sides of the 12" wide foil,  crumple it so it is about 6" wide x 22.5"

                 Then crimp the upper 2" between your fingers for the full 22.5" length and this will make one side of the collar smaller while the other side will flare out to cover and protect the media in the shallow saucer.

                 Overlap the ends, fold over the edges two or three times to join the collar together. 

                  Choke the collar where the roots joins the hill and tease out the foil to stretch over the entire surface of the media in the saucer.  Tuck or flatten the foil to be in good contact and continue to choke the foil firmly around the base of the roots. 

                  At Fuku-Bonsai we use 3/8" wide monofilament tape to first tighten and secure the choked foil around the roots, the wrap the tape around three points, going across a third of the foil,  under a third of the saucer, over another third of the foil, under a third of the saucer, and over the last third of the saucer.  This seems to work well to hold the aluminum foil in position.  Shape the upper part of the aluminum foil collar into an interesting smooth "watering catchment funnel" so it is easy to pour water or even water with a hose outdoors. 

                 The foil will keep the gravelly material from being displaced, Holes about 1/8" to 1/4" size holes are made every inch or so throughout the foil surface to assure good air circulation to prevent rotting roots. 

                 Antonio with his two 1:10 Project results.  In his left hand the SUMO in a 7" saucer that he completed 23 months ago, and the newest ROOTS in a 9" saucer from today's class.

                The class ended with a discussion of the future development of the Roots bonsai.  We discussed the location of the "Crown Apex" point, the ends of the lowest branches, and how this forms the "Angle of Limiting Cuts" that quickly determines where to prune rampant growth to create a natural tropical bonsai crown.  Two branches grew beyond that "Angle of Limiting Cuts" and were pruned.   The two cuttings were prepared for rooting and shown below being rooted.

                  We were very fortunate to have Antonio as part of our staff and hate to see him go.  But we are excited about the new opportunities that await him in New Mexico!

                  We discussed the techniques that are producing exceptional growth in dry climates and confident the his plants will do well there.  He'll be moving halfway between Albuquerque and Santa Fe  and once he's settled, may visit bonsai clubs in New Mexico to assist them in learning True Indoor Bonsai if they are interested.               

                  We send Antonio off with all best wishes and look forward to staying in touch!
***   Go back to the Journal of Tropical and True Indoor Bonsai #4; April 2013
***   Go to the 1:10 Project portal page
***   Go to the Mid-Pacific Bonsai Foundation home page
***  Go to the Fuku-Bonsai home page

            Mid-Pacific Bonsai Foundation and Fuku-Bonsai, 2013