By Russ Mann, Journal contributing writer (Polson, Montana)

                  This is my Bonsai History Log. I can’t remember when I first got interested in bonsai --- perhaps at some point when I was in high school, living in Hawaii (on Oahu). I have had some small success with some traditional bonsai sold at swap meets and such. By success, they lived a few months, and a few for some years. But they never really thrived, so I drifted away, but my interest was always there  . .  .  waiting.

                  We moved to Montana in 2010, a beautiful place with many, many trees. I began to notice small seedlings and possible bonsai candidates alongside the road, bonsai began to surface again! But I am determined to do it right, research and prepare. I will not kill any more trees!!! I went on the internet and found Jerry (bonsaihunk) in Montana --- close to where I live. From his website I found Fuku-Bonsai and its True Indoor Bonsai!! I read so much, being from Hawaii I was interested right away, the more I read, the more interested I became.

                 SO now I start my record of Personal Bonsai, MY BONSAI! I am committed to doing this right, in the correct way, with true bonsai spirit, with the Spirit of Aloha!  I read many articles on the Fuku Bonsai website, then called and spoke with David Fukumoto. He suggested I start with the “workshop 1”, so I did  .  .  .  The above photo is my first shipment received on March 13, 2013.
















         (Left)  My Sumo in March 2013  and (Right) in January 2014














         (Left) My Roots in March 2013 and (Right) in January 2014














          (Left) My Root-Over-Rock in March 2013 and (Right) in January 2014

          NOTES:   It appears I didn’t have enough media inside the foil; the roots are not as strong as I hoped. I have spoken with David and he gave me some pointers.  I added material that was screened and dampened so I could add it like building a sculpture.  I refitted the foil tighter and made sure there are holes to allow the roots to “breath” air. The growth is good looking on top, and following David's recommendations, II trimmed the larger leafs to let light into plant centers.

           A few words about my grow area.  I started with things in our living room which has a north facing window. I also added an inexpensive grow light. This seemed to work pretty good….but, my wife said it was taking up too much room.  So  I moved everything into my study, with a south facing window ( much better)!  It created a little more work on water day (every Thursday)

          I just added an 600-watt high power grow light set up.  It’s like daylight in there now and I hope my bonsai will respond in a big way. I have a timer set up, day light 12 hours on, dark 12 hours.

          Summing up, I am very happy with my bonsai so far, they are looking great and responding to my care as I continue to learn. If I can do this, anyone who has wanted to grow bonsai can be successful!









         Here are a few pictures of my Bonsai so far:   Note the plastic box at the far right, it has several cuttings that have rooted and are growing very vigorously, I have planted one in a small container over a small stone.  A picture of the new south facing window in my office/grow room: note the weather conditions…snowy! My 2 1:10 Projects are on the right…growing very strong










          I screened the media, added water to make a paste, applied it to my Sumo and Root-Over-Rock, then and recovered them with foil in a more correct manner ---  crumpled, tightly,  and with “air breathing” holes.  There seems to be improvement in the short time I have been using the grow light! Just a week has gone by since redoing my first workshop trees ---  they like the better light!!!

            I'll submit an updated report on my "1:10 Project (plants in shallow saucers that are 10 times as wide as the are deep) in the next Journal issue.  Wow, there's so much creativity and I am honored to be in this group! I am interested in helping anyone I that I can. Please feel free to share my email address!

           Aloha and Mahalo to all,   - - - Russ "Bonsai" Mann   (


         SOME COMMENTS BY DAVID:  Aloha Russ and mahalo for offering to help anyone that you can and I hope that those who live in the northern states will take up offers to help from these study group and editorial leaders.  Contact Jerry Meislik (Whitefish, Montana),  Jay Boryczko (Farmington Hills, Michigan) and Russ Mann (Polsom, Montana) if you have questions on growing Tropical and True Indoor Bonsai in the northern states.  Up to now there was a shortage of such published information.  So I appreciate when study group members and customers send photos of their True Indoor Bonsai on the window sill (often in silhouette)  with lots and lots of snow outside!

        I believe these Journal articles offer an alternative for those growing bonsai indoors in the northern states and there's growing evidence that if you have good lighting, that you can do major Dwarf Schefflera True Indoor Bonsai foliage pruning and transplanting (including root-pruning) all year around indoors!  The key is having enough light.

        I congratulate Russ on the progress that he's made in his first year.  In the first year, the primary objective to to learn to grow the trees well, to understand their needs,  and to learn the basic cultural and training concepts.  Then the fun begins and you determine the level of activity and the difficulties of the challenges.  I'm impressed that projects that I thought would be difficult (such as the "1:10 Project" with shallow saucers) are very successful.  I'm pleased that extending the roots is more successful that originally projected. 

        Root-Over-Rock plantings are especially suitable for Dwarf Schefflera True Indoor Bonsai and although you can purchase Roots bonsai from Fuku-Bonsai, I like the idea that everyone grows at least one root extension and successfully complete a nice rock planting on their own.  It's a nice but doable challenge! 

        Each of our Fast-Track Study Group members are working on their own projects and are in contact and are informational resources for each other.  To become a member of the Fast-Track Study Group requires first the completion of the Introductory Workshop Packages and "graduation" from the Beginner Study Group.  The reason is simple.  Everyone's time is priceless and I do not believe it is appropriate that a person with no knowledge or experience request bonsai help if they have not made the effort to first try to learn the basics on their own. Completing the IWPs will give the basic knowledge that is not possible with substitute materials or no materials at all.

          I receive too many very inconsiderate emails that consists of just questions.  There's nothing else --- no name, no idea of where the person lives, not even the name or photo of the plant, whether he purchase the plant or collected it himself, etc.  If I answer the question,  a few seconds later another arrives --- then another and another!  Our study group members are limited to one email per day with the understanding that they put a reasonable amount of thought into each, as well as include a salutation and sign off comment with their names.  That just minimal courtesy standards!  I recommend joining a Beginner Study Group and learn Dwarf Schefflera basics as it is the common knowledge of everyone in every study group. I think the members of the Fast-Track Study Group should be honored and thanked and that all communications exhibit common courtesy.

       There are a number who have done "1:10 Projects that utilize shallow saucers that are 10 times wider than they are deep.  These are very attractive and evidence is piling up that True Indoor Bonsai do not need deep pots when grown indoors.  Here we grow them outdoors in full sun but water more often.  The plants do very well.  But there is not enough report of growing them outdoors in warmer weather.  Shallow pots are very attractive and should be the goal of those moving into intermediate and advanced True Indoor Bonsai!

         We've got a great Tropical and True Indoor Bonsai community forming and I hope everyone participating will help maintain these high standards!  You're invited to join us! 

         ~~~David  (  

*** Return to the February 2014 issue of the Journal of Tropical & True Indoor Bonsai
*** Go to the Mid-Pacific Bonsai Foundation website
*** Go to the Fuku-Bonsai website
© Mid-Pacific Bonsai Foundation and Fuku-Bonsai, 2014