Now almost two years after up-potting a 4LL8 Hawaiian Dragon into a 9" diameter x 1" deep shallow 1:10 Project saucer-pot, it's time to move it into the premium 1:10 Project into a shallow 12" diameter x 1.25" deep saucer-pot. 

           Compared to the SUMO and ROOTS which used a standard #8 Conversion Kit,  the HAWAIIAN DRAGON used a 9" shallow 1:10 Project saucer-pot that used the most advanced internal "wire-armature" technique with a report posted at:

          Aerial roots popped out from above the foil collar (which had no air holes) and those roots were wrapped around the twisty-turny root-trunk and wired tightly into position with an aluminum foil collar reapplied, but with tears to allow air in.  The plastic collar was removed and the ground contoured. 

            This is the first 1:10 Project plant being up-potted from a 9" saucer-pot to a 12" saucer-pot and it proved to be very simple.  The ends of the wire armature sticking out of the bottom was cut and the plant pulled loose.  The root ball was just 3/4" thick with just one root starting to grow around.  The edges were trimmed,  the roots massaged to release the potting media and make the root ball flexible, and the tree positioned on the hill which was shoved off-center.  The media surface was contoured and the tree secured with the X-tie wires.

            The wire retaining the roots was removed and the roots remained locked in position.

           Another view of the tree which is interesting and attractive from all sides. 
          A 36" long x 12" wide aluminum foil sheet (3 x 12" diameter) was crinkled, bent and fluted and pre-shaped to resemble a hat.  It was made, installed, taped down, and air holes made as described in the two previous reports. 
          The completed up-potted Hawaiian Dragon.  The one branch facing up was wired down.  Later the two large leaves were trimmed off.  This will one day be an exciting bonsai,  especially if it is repotted at a differnent angle and the crown is developed with a change in direction and with a set of complex branches.  This is our most manipulated "TOP & BOTTOM DRAGON" in which both the trunks and roots are twisted.  This styling is not generally feasible to produce in our standard product line but may one day become available in our Custom Collection size. 



         For the past two years,  most of our research has centered around the 1:10 Project to train into shallow pot saucers that are ten times wider than they are deep.  The overwhelming majority of bonsai hobbyists tend to use pots that are much too deep and when you first see the bonsai,  you really see the bulk of the pot.  One of the basic Japanese guidelines concerning pot selection is that the depth of the pot be about the same depth as the thickness of the trunk.  So by this standard, a plant with a 2" trunk should be in a pot that is 2" deep. In reality,  it is much more common to see a bonsai with a 1" thick trunk in a 4" deep pot and the pot really visually overwhelms the bonsai!

                  The Japanese have a highly sophisticated production-distribution system where farmers who no longer can compete against cheap American-California rice now grow bonsai like vegetables in the ground to create a larger heavier plant.  They are dug us every few years to keep the root systems compact.  But if the roots are not severed often,  there are major difficulties getting them back into bonsai pots! 

                  In Japan, there are generally two types of bonsai pots.  Those trees that are in earlier stages of training go into "training pots"  that are often unglazed, dark brown, heavy, press molded, rectangular pots.  These are usually in sets and relatively cheap and the trees grown by the former farmers are in such pots when they go to the bonsai schools or nursery.  As the trees are refined, increase in value, and become individual creations,  the search begins for the ideal ceramic pot that best compliments the bonsai in size, shape, color, or quality. 

                  In Hawaii,  Haruo "Papa" Kaneshiro was the most knowledgeable about pots and he was one of the few who could afford the highest grades.  He favored pots made by Akiji Kataoka, the master potter of the Yamaaki kiln who made famous the Tokoname bonsai pots.  These are unglazed burnished pot that are very elegantly designed and generally shallower that the heavy press-molded "training pots."

                 In Hawaii, all efforts to produce high-quality bonsai pots have failed and those produced by local potters tend to be heavy, glazed, and just a small improvement over press-molded training pots. How can a bonsai nursery become feasible if it is forced to import heavy low-grade training pots that are heavy to ship and very breakable.  We resolved this in the 1970's by collaborating with Gerry Gilmore of Travis City, Michigan who had a plastic intrusion business that needed a product line to produce during the annual automobile model change over. Gerry retired and the distribution of the Fuku-Bonsai line of plastic bonsai pots and saucer is now handled by Skip and Mollie Holler dba Basically Bonsai.  If you or your bonsai club need attractive plastic bonsai pot and saucers (including those we drill holes in for our "1:10 Project,")  contact:

Skip & Mollie Hollar ---  BASICALLY BONSAI
520 South Street, Greenville, Michigan 48838    Phone and FAX (616) 754-2351
URL:         Email: 

                 From the very beginning,  we've been very comfortable with plastic bonsai pots and prefer them over expensive, heavy, breakable ceramic bonsai pots.  We believe you should focus first on training your tree and the attractive plastic pots are more than adequate until your tree develops the character and individuality to begin looking for the perfect bonsai pot.  Too often we see $10 trees in $75 pots!     

*** Return to May 2013 Journal of Tropical & True Indoor Bonsai
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                 Mid-Pacific Bonsai Foundation & Fuku-Bonsai, 2013