May 1, 2014:  With the exception of the three mame bonsai (less than 6" tall)  in white containers, all other plants were recently potted into standard 2", 3" and 4" pots that were all cut down to just 1" deep. The long "accelerated growth" branches were either severely pruned to move them toward secondary branch ramifications or the multiple growing tips nipped to continue in refinement training. 


(SAVED AS 1a6q1.html)     In traditional outdoor temperate climate bonsai,  a 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 plastic bonsai pots to be 2" deep.  Then,  2" was a lot shallower than the deep, heavy ceramic bonsai pots used by most bonsai venders.  While the trees could do okay,  the heavy pots grabbed all attention when planted with skinny, scrawny young beginner trees.   

               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 for our future directions.  We thank members of our study groups and those who took experimental workshops at the Fuku-Bonsai Cultural Center and provided feedback.  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.  I will 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.


              Bonsai is the most complex and challenging of all horticultural arts.  It requires a strong horticultural background and bonsai really is not for those who do not understand plants.  Every so often we get emails by those who request help who have begun on their own and failed.  Most failed because they wanted to grow a certain plant variety that simply was not suitable for their growing situation.  Too many simplistically want to grow a certain plant to satisfy a quirky impulse and are doomed to fail.

             AN EXTREME EXAMPLE:  One visitor wanted to grow only Bristlecone Pine bonsai from seed. She tried to impress me that it was the oldest known plant that was unique and beautiful.  That's true, but it grows very slowly and only under specific conditions that she couldn't possibly provide.  That's on the same idiot level of the person advocating growing polar bears in Hawaii.  While I don't argue that it cannot be done,  it would require commitment, expertise, and resources and I do not believe that the success is worth the extreme cost.  I'm a very pragmatic person and have no patience for such fantasies.

             "NATURE'S BONSAI" VS. "NURSERY BONSAI."    Bonsai are "trees with character" or miniature landscapes in containers.  The most famous bonsai are aged trees collected from harsh environments that have been shaped by nature over many years.  Once successfully collected and refined, these trees can become masterpieces that could not be equaled by the best nurseryman in a lifetime of effort.  Unfortunately most "Nature's Bonsai" are very difficult to grow without expertise and suitable growing environments.  In contrast Fuku-Bonsai's True Indoor Bonsai are the most successful bonsai for anyone, anywhere who can grow houseplants and/or outdoors when night temperature are above 55 degrees F.    

            THE FIRST RULE FOR SUCCESS IS TO ONLY GROW TREES THAT WILL THRIVE FOR YOU IN YOUR ENVIRONMENT OR TO CHANGE YOUR ENVIRONMENT TO MEET THE NEEDS OF THE TREE!  Each tree requires a slightly different environment and training technique.  But it must be healthy and growing strongly to train in a predictable manner.  Never train a tree that is not healthy and growing well. 

            THE SECOND RULE FOR SUCCESS IS TO START WITH AS MUCH CHARACTER WITHIN ONE INCH OF THE SOIL LINE. This could be a heavy trunk with good root spread and taper, multiple trunks, or low branches --- all within one inch of the soil line.  If there is no character and interest there,  the tree will never be high-standard tree as it is impossible to develop character in this section later.  You either have from the start or will never have it.  To create exceptional bonsai, start with the highest quality plants that you can obtain and learn how to grow them  vigorously!

            MOST BONSAI WILL GREATLY BENEFIT FROM A PERIOD OF RAMPANT OPTIMUM GROWTH!  Bonsai training is stressful for a tree and at Fuku-Bonsai we make it a practice of allowing a tree to fully recover before subjecting it to another round of major training.   



              THE 1:10 PROJECT WAS AND IS A MAJOR ADVANCE FOR THOSE WANTING TO RAISE THE STANDARDS OF HOUSEPLANT BONSAI!  Rather than argue a negative situation, I prefer to work in a very open and positive manner towards success for anyone, anywhere who can grow houseplants. 




        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.




         A small potted 4LL8 Hawaiian Dragon and Roots continue to grow vigorously. Both will be repotted into just the bottom 1" of a standard nursery 4" plastic pot.

        To end the optimum growth stage and to begin refinement to get more compact growth and smaller leaves, simply repot into a shallow container.





         The upper part of the standard 4" nursery pot was cut at the 1" line.  This would fit nicely on the 4x4 blocks we use to created more interesting photos and as such those blocks could be used to adjust the pot height when testing landscape designs.  The new training pot is half the original pot depth. 




           Both the Hawaiian Dragon and the Roots shown in the upper photo was potted into the 1" tall base of a standard nursery pot. 



            Place the recently shallow potted plants into a shallow container and fill with coarse bottom media for easy maintenance even in direct sun  .  When plants are needed, remove, shake the coarse media loose, and use the plants for the design trials and replace them when completed. 

            Note that once established the small bonsai can handle direct sun that gives more compact smaller leaf growth. 






*** Return to the _________ 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