Unlike most of those in our study groups, John has over 20 years experience in traditional outdoor bonsai.  So I asked him to include information about what ways Fuku-Bonsai's True Indoor Bonsai is different.  He cites two examples:  1)  His basic potting media was developed by Jack Wikle of Ann Arbor Society of turface MVP (3 parts), growers grit (2 parts), which is really small pieces of granite and 1 part Sphagnum peat.   2) For fetilizer, John makes up pellets made with a melon scooper of a mix of commercial and organic fertilizer with neem oil and dish soap added. His problems include cats that poach the fertilizer, flies, smell, etc.  So he'll be trying Nutrient Granules when plants move indoors for the winter.


              While the Introductory Workshop Package's Roots can be used to create a small Roots bonsai, for the study group members, I encourage them to use it as a transitional preparatory step to prepare plants for a larger Roots or Root-Over-Rock workshop in the future by extending the roots.  John likes larger bonsai so his root extension is scaled to that preference.  His report:




By John (Jay) Boryczko
(Farmington Hills, Michigan)

             The IWP prepared bonsai stock in 2" pot selected for a roots workshop.




             I tried to find the most appealing view for this "Roots" workshop.  I noticed the larger roots appeared very close together and put a few pieces of lava that was in the soil mix between the roots shown in the second photo.  This gives a more appealing view of the roots.  I used paper covered wire to pull the rest of the roots together so when the roots grow down the foil tube they will have nice taper, wide at the bottom and narrower at the top.



             As I worked through the instructions and since my tube appeared quite long, I wondered if I had enough soil.   I also make my own soil and added some to make sure I had enough.  After reviewing what others have done, mine was a little longer than some, while others that were longer did fine with what soil was available.

            NOTE FROM DAVID:  A few of our more advanced Fast-Track Study Group members are working with older plants and have ordered extra supplies of media etc. so have more options.  It is unusual for one in the beginner study group to do a major root extension.  But it makes sense for John who is used to working with larger bonsai. 


              The plant wrapped up like a sausage. I used a few wire clips to help hold the foil closed till I had everything else in place and was ready to place it in the pot.   I held the plant upside down and filled the rest on my cone with soil and used the direction sheet to cover the bottom as I flipped it over into the pot.  Once the plant was positioned I just slid the paper out ---  and presto ---  no mess or soil falling out while trying to flip the plant over. 

              With all the holes in the foil, I was surprised my added soil did not come out the holes.  I used the wires for holding the plant in the pot and the paper coated wire to secure the now towering "Roots" in place.  One has to be careful going this high up that your plant is not too top heavy.  The plant could fall over causing the foil to split open and expose the roots.  I was fortunate when a thunderstorm rolled through a few nights ago that the tree was still standing.



               I have been exposed to others creating aerial roots, but had not actually done it myself.  I will monitor the progress of these trees and may employ similar practices to a Ficus I have to make its base more interesting.  I have seen from previous articles that you should not bend the column too soon or the roots will become stiff and less likely to bend easily.  When my "Roots" roots make it down into the bonsai pot I would like to twist and bend it like the pictures of the "Dragons" I have seen. 

              I may take the cutting I have and grow it to have a much thicker trunk and see how far can I get the roots to grow and make a Dragon with that one as well.  I have quite a few years of growing to do before that cutting would be ready for such drastic styling.

             David has given me some homework for he next project and it will take a little time to track down the materials.  The next workshop is the roots-over-rock.  When I started in bonsai there was an abundance of stone for similar projects which I was able to find locally.  Since then, many of the bonsai shops that carried the stones for this purpose are no longer in business so I have some hunting to do.  Good luck to all and enjoy the journey!!!  I hope I covered it all, and thanks again...

            Best Regards,   - - - Jay


            John (Jay) is getting into the spirit of things and I thank him for his thoughts as we build a True Indoor Bonsai community.  I asked John to make a survey of rocks that are available in his region.  When I visited Michigan in 1985, much of the area had rounded stones created by glaciers.  But I found one that had split with interesting features.  Although the rock is hard and smooth surfaced, it may be possible to create interesting formations by gluing smaller rocks together.  Ron Davis of Montana created an interesting "Rock pile planting!" 

            One of the goals of this True Indoor Bonsai community is to encourage and assist in creating beauty with common materials,  and if worst comes to worst,  it will include how to "create"  interesting rocks and how to plant them creatively.  Several in our study group are moving toward rock sculpturing and rock planting and I think there will be more.  For this type of planting,  it is preferable to have trees that already have extended roots so the basic roots workshop can create a nice small roots bonsai,  or be a preparatory step for doing a larger rock planting in the future.

           Jay did very well.  The primary recommendation is to make smaller pleats and use a longer aluminum foil.  Then when you choke up the collar against the roots at the top,  there's a lot of extra pleating and even near the bottom,  the pleating will be sufficiently prominent to guide roots down instead of the foil stretching out and the roots start running around inside the collar.  The objective is to encourage strong long healthy roots that will be very limber and they will be if sent straight down.  If you twist the roots at this stage, they tend to stiffen.  Congratulations on your successful second workshop.     ~~~David  

***  Return to the September 2013 issue of 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, 2013