The photo above shows a small portion of our 1:10 Project plants in trials and the various containers being used in those trials.  The largest container with a Roots tree is a 7" diameter saucer that is used as part of our Dwarf Schefflera Desk size Hawaiian Lava Planting "saucer and gravel."  To it' left is a Sumo in a 5.5" diameter x3/4" deep dish and to its left is a heavy trunked Sumo in a 4.5"x1/2" deep dish.  On the lower level,  in a black 5" diameter x 1/4" dish is a recently potted Premium Prepared Bonsai Stock and in front is a ivory dish of the same size showing the pattern of the multiple drain holes.   In the center foreground are our new "Octogon Plexiglass baseplates" that are being used to create trees with flat bottom root systems that can be moved around like chess pieces to create a range of trial positioning.  These are being made 2.5" across, 3.5" across, and 5" across.  While most are in clear Plexi,  those with black Plexi are easier to see in the photo.  Once mounted on the Octogon Plexiglass baseplates, they are potted in cut-down 4" pots to be easily removed, root pruned, and utilized in future landscape positioning learning trials. 


               In traditional outdoor temperate climate bonsai,  the primary guideline is that the depth of the pot is equal to the diameter of the trunk.  We knew we would be creating 10" to 12" tall trees with trunks at least 2" across, so in the early 1970's we designed the Fuku-Bonsai 8" round and the 17"x12" oval pots to be 2" deep.  At that time,  2" deep was a lot shallower than the deeper, heavier ceramic bonsai pots that were used by most bonsai venders.  While the trees would likely do okay when grown by inexperienced growers,  such heavy pots took away all attention when planted with skinny, scrawny young beginner trees.   

               In contrast,  Fuku-Bonsai's trees were visibly superior and we've steadily built a reputation for producing the highest quality trees available nationally. The original pots have worked well and while we cannot currently afford to modify or replace the expensive molds,  we are designing future shallower pots and drilling multiple drain holes into the shallow saucers for our 1:10 Project plants.  In 2010, we began the 1:10 Project which uses shallow saucers that are ten times as wide as they are deep. 

              WE'VE NEVER EVER LOST ANY 1:10 PROJECT TREE!  After four years of observation, we are making conclusions and summaries and this will influence our future directions.  We thank members of our study groups and those who took experimental workshops at the Fuku-Bonsai Cultural Center in the past who have provided feedback to allow me to understand and to make the following conclusions and summaries.  Please contact me at if you are interested in becoming an active participant in these trials as we establish higher standards for the Tropical & True Indoor Bonsai community that we are creating.  I pledge to continue to share the latest information in the Journal of Tropical & True Indoor Bonsai and to make available to study group members advanced plant materials not available to the general public.


        1.  This tree in a 5.5" diameter x 3/4" deep dish has been in the dish for about 3 years and now about 6-7 years old.  It grows in full sun outdoors and leaves have naturally reduced as the tree adjusted to its limited root container. The tree is 5" tall measured from the top of the pot rim with a 2" width trunk-roots at soil line.  In the future,  Fuku-Bonsai may produce a line of smaller, younger, economy-priced Living Lovables that could be trained into high-quality small bonsai.  We may also have such older developed small bonsai.


       2.   The tree on the wood block is a 4.5" diameter x 1/2" deep dish and about 4-5 years old, also growing in full sun outdoors.  The tree is only 4" tall but has a very heavy trunk 2" across at the soil line that was created by a more aggressive reduction, trained with a "full crumpled aluminum foil collar" (as shown with a recent plant in the shallower black dish) that was left on for 6-9 months and recently removed.  This method produces an exceptional surface taper.  When cutting back, leave a single leaf at the end of each branch.  As new growth emerges, remove the old large leaf and new leaves will be smaller.


        3. A 1:10 Project Roots in a 7" diameter saucer that had its "full crumpled aluminum foil collar" recently removed.  A similar tree was sent to Jay Boryczko for his trial report. (  The bottom is flat and it should be easy to mount the tree on a 5" Octogon Plexi Baseplate so it can be moved around to create trial positioning to learn or teach the principles of positioning trees, rocks, and other landscaping components.  This will allow creating landscapes, enjoying them for a while, then taking them apart to create new landscape designs.


        4.  The photo shows four Premium Prepared Bonsai Stock (PPBS) that are not available to the general public; but are already going to members of our advanced study groups.  They are in 2" pots and older and more developed than the pre-trained plants that are in our Introductory Workshop Packages (IWP).

            The plants were bare-rooted, root pruned, anchored and planted on the Octogon Plexiglass Baseplates, then potted atop a layer of bottom coarse, inserted with some body media and fine top dressing.



         Notice that a major result of the 1:10 Project shallow saucers is the greatly reduced leaf size and tighter branch ramification. This is leading towards creation of high-quality small and miniature bonsai!



           1.       In traditional temperate climate bonsai, one technique plants a very young seedling or cutting with roots spread out over a hard, dense river rock as this is said to produce superior trunk-root buttressing as one of several techniques used at the same time.  Fuku-Bonsai adopted but modified this by using a "plastic separator" over a coarse bottom hill and this is partially why our trees have prominent trunk-root buttressing that is necessary to create superior banyan bonsai. The use of a flat rigid plexiglass octogon is a variation that would create ideal training trees to learn (or teach)  bonsai assembly techniques.  We believe that this will also create superior micro-mini or small bonsai as an alternative to individually potting with the 1:10 Project shallow saucers.  

          2.       We believe that the 1:10 Project produced more compact internodal branching and smaller leaves that may be due to the "Plastic Separator;"  but it was also due to limiting the size of the root system, possibly creating drier roots, but also partly due to high outdoor light and a high fertilizer schedule.   We will be running trials on each of these variables. 

          3.       Generally the most impressive micro-mini or small bonsai are the result of an aggressive reduction which was the primary technique used to create the larger tree in Photo #2 above. If the tree in Photo #1 was as aggressively reduced, it too would be an impressive small bonsai.

           4.       Under-potting,  "Just-Right-Potting," and "Accelerated Growth Potting.  Most beginners want or need growth and too often, they plant trees in the ground or in large containers "to fatten them up."  But just going into larger containers without a strategy is simplistic and will likely produce the wrong results. The potting strategy must take into account the many other variables.  Beginners may want or need growth, but they also must be able to control that growth. Our "Plastic Separator" technique can and is used for planting LARGE bonsai in the ground atop a hill with a plastic separator for 5 to 10 years or more. It's used in our common size small and medium bonsai.  The Octogon Plexiglass Baseplates may become our standard strategy for smallest trees needing a flat shallow root system and a refined appearance.  




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