Co-founders David and Myrtle Fukumoto as they celebrated 50 years of marriage and bonsai (1962 to 2012).  The photo shows their first bonsai that began as a houseplant in their newly-wed apartment, went to their suburban house lot that was soon filled with bonsai, then to the Big Island when Fuku-Bonsai was formed as the first Hawaii State certified nursery, and now as the first tree that greets Fuku-Bonsai Cultural Center visitors.  The photo also shows the range of styling of their specialty Dwarf Schefflera. True Indoor Bonsai has become the most successful gift bonsai for anyone, anywhere who can grow house plants.  There are no secrets and we supply plants and workshop materials and teach members of the Mid-Pacific Bonsai Foundation who join the study groups.


                While still a beginner,  I was asked to be a last minute substitute teacher for a Evening Adult Education Course.  Then bonsai was a very secretive activity and there were very few willing to teach who could speak English.  There was no printed information about growing bonsai in the tropics and suitable plants were just not available.  It was difficult and I brought my own trees for students to work on.  We made progress when the school mimeographed the first handbook that we created.  But there was huge progress and great enthusiasm when we supplied all needed materials and Myrtle supplied prepared bonsai stock.  That was the start of Fuku-Bonsai and while are primary income comes from selling bonsai,  a large part of our time and effort is on teaching bonsai!

                 We opened the Kurtistown Fuku-Bonsai Cultural Center in 1996 and the direct contact with a large number of visitors from all parts of the United States showed there was great interest in purchasing and owning a bonsai,  but also an interest in learning.  We began offering "kits" including handbooks in 2000 that incorporated a potted Hawaiian Lava Planting that was already really nice into a larger 8" diameter x 2" pot and included all needed items.  Of course it was very successful and attractive but too costly.


                 Start with an ideal plant that will grow well for you.  Dwarf Schefflera is the most durable houseplant with ideal bonsai traits for the great majority who want to grow bonsai in homes and offices year-around indoors;  or outdoors when night temperatures exceed 55°F.  That means indoor or outdoors year-around in Hawaii;  but varying situations depending upon the climate where you live.  Indoor temperatures usually are between 60°F due to interior heating to 80°F due to air conditioning.  That's usually the natural temperatures of Hawaii which makes this the ideal place to grow Dwarf Schefflera.  Dwarf Schefflera are grown to be drought-resistant and to be able to handle the dry air of interior heating and air conditioning and there are many proven methods to create optimum growing conditions. We have successful customers in all states and the experience to advise you.

                 Start with pre-trained plants that already have trunk and low branch character within one inch of the soil line and a shallow compact roots system within 1/2" of that soil line.  Our 2" prepared bonsai stock are already 2-3 years in training and we've already done the most difficult tasks. They are the finest available at any price and the primary reason for our student success!  The final result of a workshop is based upon the potential of your starter plant. Most bonsai workshops have modest or poor results due to the low quality or potential of the workshop plants.  Fuku-Bonsai's Introductory Workshop Package is priced at $24.95 + $12 shipping for a single kit but with quantity discounts delivered price via FedEx drops to just $12.50 each anywhere in the United States.  We've addressed the major issues and supply all needed items!

                 Your success or failure will be determined by the care of the plants and the growing environment that you have or create!  We can help or advise, but it's really up to you!


                 Fuku-Bonsai and the 501(3)(c) Mid-Pacific Bonsai Foundation has partnered to make possible the study groups and the first national scale vertically integrated effort that includes educational material (via website, Journal of Tropical & True Indoor Bonsai, and printed sheets), the actual workshop plants and supplies,  and personalized one-on-one email assistance!  To qualify, individuals must:

        1.     BE AN INDIVIDUAL MPBF MEMBER IN GOOD STANDING.  Membership is $12 per year.

        2.     PURCHASE THREE EACH INTRODUCTORY WORKSHOP PACKAGES. (Current unit price is $24.95 + $12 shipping; with purchase of three, shipping is free so cost is $74.85.).  For those signing up for this Beginner Study Group,  several complimentary items that are not easily available are included.

  A.  IWP Sumo Workshop #1:  This will introduce you to Fuku-Bonsai's plants, potting media, and some of our innovative training methods including:  1) The use of a coarse bottom hill and plastic separator "tent" for exceptional drainage and to create a shallow root system.  2)  The use of an accent rock to off-set any negative in the prepared bonsai stock; or used to enhance that stock by raising the tree to form either a scene or a tropical tree with larger buttressing roots. 3) The use of aluminum foil collars to aid in the establishment of the portion of the tree above the soil line. Our workshop packages are like no other and this basic sumo workshop is necessary to learn and understand True Indoor Bonsai even if you have several years of experience in traditional Japanese temperate climate outdoor bonsai.
  B.  IWP Roots Workshop #2:  This is a major True Indoor Bonsai innovation as our primary goal is to interpret and create "BANYAN BONSAI" that feature roots.  There are several sub-goals for this workshop:   1) Create a small exposed root bonsai.  2)  Extend the length of the aerial roots to create a taller prepared bonsai stock for a future larger "Roots" bonsai or a larger taller "Root-Over-Rock" Bonsai. This workshop introduces the concept and mechanics of taller "accordion-fold aluminum foil collars" and the use of support wires if necessary.  Fuku-Bonsai's prepared bonsai stock already have trunk character and low branches within one inch of the soil line and a shallow compact root system within 1/2" of the soil line.  This workshop teaches the basics to how to prepare our standard Sumo-type stock into Roots-type stock.  
  C.  IWP Root-Over-Rock Workshop #3:  This is a significant challenge with two difficult parts.  First, with a drill with 1/4" masonry bit, learn to shape the relatively soft lava rock that is included.  Make a plan.  Position the rock to stand upright or for your best altitude.  Create a "saddle" where the tree will sit and create "root trail crevasses" for the roots to follow down to the media in the pots. Email and get pre-approval of each step --- an overall drawing of the scene to be created with drawing and photos of the rock,  a plan showing the "saddle," the "root trail crevasses," with the prepared bonsai stock plant.

        Second,  complete the rock planting including the use of sphagum moss, body media, Nutrient Granules™, bindwire, aluminum foil, etc.  This third workshop will determine whether or not a person has enough interest and ability to be a skilled trainer of True Indoor Bonsai.  If they enjoy the challenge and complete the three workshops satisfactorily,  the individual is invited to join the more advanced Fast-Track Study Group.  Some find that they have learned enough, are overwhelmed by the Root-Over-Rock workshop,  and choose instead to create either a Sumo or Roots with the third workshop package.        

        3.     PLEDGE TO FOLLOW STUDY GROUP PROCEDURES, STANDARDS, ETC. USING ONLY PLANT MATERIALS OBTAINED FROM FUKU-BONSAI.  For the first three workshops, all materials will be supplied by Fuku-Bonsai so we can assist because we know all components and how they respond in all parts of the United States. There is extensive information with the IWP, on the website, and in the past issues of the Journal of Tropical & True Indoor Bonsai.  We expect group members to do their homework to study all available materials, to make a plan and to send us a carefully composed email if there are questions and to limit to a single email per day!

  PREPARATION REQUIRED AND ASKING QUESTIONS.  I do not encourage and will not assist those who want to phone or send many single subject emails right after each other!  I try to help but cannot help those who are not willing or able to study what is already available.
   PUT YOURSELF IN THE ROLE OF A TEACHER!  We invite those who will be willing and able to teach others to join our study group.  So think about the workshops as if you demonstrating and teaching others. Break up the workshop into eight or more steps, then plan each step including the photo that will be taken at each step.  Write a caption that best expresses the essence of that step.  In doing this exercise, you organize a presentation and get a better understanding.  You create a "show and tell" teaching aid and can show how that same plant has developed.  Those who just learned are the best most enthusiastic teachers, and by teaching others,  you learn the most! 
  SET UP A "PHOTO STUDIO" WITH A PLAIN BACKGROUND AND WORKING SURFACE. Some use two sheets of 2'x3' white foam-core panels available from office or art supply stores.  Take all photos horizontal as they are easier for me to do a layout.  Leave enough room for me to crop if necessary and take a few more photos and I'll edit and select if there are too many.  Add enough caption material and try to add ideas if there were areas that have not been covered enough in existing reports. After you complete and submit your photos, captions, and report, please don't do anything until you hear from me.  In the past, after receiving a long report,  before I could edit it, the person did a major redo and submitted a second report, and shortly after, another redo and another report.  So I wasted a lot of time and effort creating critiques that became obsolete and never sent.  Please realize that it is difficult to assist individuals by email and the huge amount of time that I devote is not a high-profit use of my time! I'll do my best to help but request all cooperation and courtesies.





                  We will quote and supply additional materials as necessary and will assist study group members who will continue to adapt locally available supplies, pots, etc. Study group activities will be limited to Dwarf Schefflera provided by Fuku-Bonsai and not other plants provided by others.  All photos and reports will be for publication in the Journal of Tropical and True Indoor Bonsai as selected and edited.  Once past the three beginner IWP workshops study group members create their own custom workshops based upon their goals and situation. 

                  The True Indoor Bonsai Study Groups were developed to help isolated individuals and those who are willing and able to teach others.  It takes a lot of time and commitment for both parties.  For more information, please contact me at


***  Return to the September 2013 issue of Journal of Tropical & True Indoor Bonsai
***  Go to Mid-Pacific Bonsai Foundation website
***  Go to Fuku-Bonsai website
       ©  Mid-Pacific Bonsai Foundation and Fuku-Bonsai, 2013