By Ryan Chang,  Journal Contributing Editor (Waipahu, Oahu, Hawaii)     1a94o.html

                    Lately,  I've been doing a lot of rock building which is a very slow process.  So while waiting for the adhesive to dry solid, I shift my focus to some of my other bonsai trees.  I wanted to take one my older Sumo trees and plant it in a shallow saucer 9” pot like the Fuku-Bonsai Advanced 1:10 Project.  I chose to go with the 9” diameter versus the 12” diameter because the foliage is about the same width.  There's more balance and the pot didn’t take away attention from the tree.  I had some difficulty and needed some help with “the dancing banyan” as it wanted to stubbornly lean in its final position. 

                     "DANCING BANYAN" is a fun, clever, and vigorous tree.  It never seems to want to settle down.  It throws its roots in all directions --- stretching its body out towards the sun and waving its arms in the wind!  This banyan tree dances; it bends and leans, it opens it arms to show its lively spirit.  This banyan tree is special to me. 

                  I spray painted the dark brown plastic saucer to black,  but I’ll try to refrain from painting the saucers as the paint sometimes chips and peels off.  Which got me thinking about my rocks that I haven’t covered with varnish.  I use all-weather spray paint, but if the roots rubbed hard enough against the rock in a few years or so, it might peel off.  Anyway, in this picture the ground media is covering the drainage holes and a hill is formed in the middle.  The plastic separator is measured with a 3” circle folded and placed on the hill to prevent the media from clogging the drainage holes beneath.  Paper covered wire is wired through the holes using the “X” format.  This is the tree semi bare rooted leaving the middle mass intact.  I trimmed the roots knowing that I would cut off a few branches and leaves to clean up the foliage.  Notice the abundance of buttressing roots to create that tight Sumo look.   




       You can see from a different view that the tree has great potential to be a very nice looking Sumo Bonsai.  Being a member (and one of the leaders) of the Fast-Track Study Group, we can obtain older high-potential bonsai pre-trained trees as a special benefit of participation.  I encourage others to join the study groups, participate, and also have access to choice older plants that are not offered to the general public!

              This was my first attempt at potting up the tree.  It took some time to tie the tree down because I had a hard time keeping the tree from moving as I tied it tighter.  I enlisted the help of my brother who happened to be standing there watching.  He held the tree in place while I tied it securely to the pot. 

               NOTE: The trunk looks rushed.  I was too concerned with the moving of tree and didn’t notice the tangled looking trunk.  I immediately knew that I would have to re-do it.  However, it was getting late and I needed to rest for work.  So, I planted it up and continued in the morning. 




           Before getting started, I took a few pictures.  This one you can see the aerial root being pulled in towards the trunk.  The tree leans because the way it was growing in the previous pot.  It had developed a lean and if I planted it up right, the apex would be off. 









              Another view before doing the re-do.  You can see the lean in this angle.  The foliage looks nicely formed, but needs to be balanced out a bit.    Another view to be used side by side.










                  I straightened out the trunk and freed a few aerial roots, 3 in total.  I tied the bottom end of the root with paper covered wire and guided it down and ran the wire through the drainage hole to tighten.  I did the same with the other two and took a closer view photo of the aerial root being guided down.










                     Fine media was added to the top layer, to fill the gaps of the trunk and also dabbled in between the trunk of roots before covering with aluminum. I used a spoon to flatten the right side and form a tight contoured surface.  The left side is before being patted down.  The aerial roots are nicely in place. "DANCING BAYAN" now looks like its having a good time. 

                     I used a 18" to 20" long aluminum foil crumpled and stretched.  Starting at one end, I pushed down inside the rim of the pot and worked my way around to connect the foil.  Then, taking my time,  I conformed the foil to the surface,  and pushed down to keep the surface as firm as possible.  I like to use a couple of inches longer of aluminum in case I have to work around obstacles ---  in this case the aerial roots.  I then taped down the aluminum foil apron using the filament tape 3/4" wide tape cut in half and then created air holes. 

                  CONCLUSION: Using the high quality stock of Fuku Bonsai, even the most novice of beginners like myself can create something that brings joy and excitement.  I’m eager to see the new growth on this tree and watch itself balance out.  I’ve also been thinking about using this tree in an 360 degree advanced study group complex landscape project that will feature a Sumo, a Roots, and a Hawaiian Dragon with all three likely to be advanced stock. 

                  In this article, I wanted to also include a few other photos that show the use of Fuku Bonsai’s quality bonsai stock.  Even their smallest trees that are part of the Introductory Workshop Package will have interesting trunk and lower branch character within an 1” of the soil line.  It takes years to develop such quality in a 2” pot.  I wanted to show everyone how three of my original IWP plants developed within one year! David says my growth is exceptional because the trees are grown outdoors in Hawaii.  You'll get improved growth even if you grow True Indoor Bonsai year around.  You'll get better growth when grown outdoors when night temperatures are above 55°F.   I and other members of the study group are willing to help.  You can contact me at ryan_a_chang@msn.com    and we  invited you to start by joining a Beginner Study Group! Please feel free to contact me for more information on how we can help you learn True Indoor Bonsai!    - - - Ryan 










                Ryan's first IWP Sumo was featured in the January 2013 issue of the Journal of Tropical & True Indoor Bonsai posted at www.fukubonsai.com/1a94a.html and shows one year's growth!










                   Ryan's second IWP Sumo was featured in the February 2013 issue of the Journal of Tropical & True Indoor Bonsai posted at www.fukubonsai.com/1a94b.html and also shows one year's growth!










                   Ryan's third IWP Roots was also featured in the fe 2013 issue of the Journal of Tropical & True Indoor Bonsai posted at www.fukubonsai.com/1a94c.html and also shows one year's growth!



                  More than anyone else,  Ryan has the strongest growth --- partly because he grows our True Indoor Bonsai outdoors year around in Hawaii!  But part of is due to accepting and doing all that he can to get that superior growth! 

                  Too often, most want to do bonsai and don't pay enough attention to getting strong growth.  From the start with Ryan,  I've stressed strong growth and especially intentionally not really doing any "bonsai training!"  I wanted Ryan to learn the plants and to dream his own "unique bonsai dreams" of what constitutes beauty from his own perspective. Too often,  most seem to "want to create bonsai based upon what others tell them what bonsai should look like." 

                  Too many can cite the Japanese bonsai styling guidelines of having the first branch about 1/4th or 1/3rd up the tree with the branch facing either left or right but coming forward a bit.  The second branch a bit higher on the other side and facing a bit forward,  The third branch facing back.  These are the start of the classical branch selection often taught at begineer bonsai classes that are dominated by "pine-tree styling" or "single apex-tier branched structures" that tends to dominate Western teaching of "traditional Japanese bonsai." 

                It's simplistic and easy to get stuck in this rut and mechanically teach what was taught to them! The rules become so ingrained that all thinking stops.  Elms, azaleas, and even ficus and dwarf schefflera are trained like pine trees.  There is a major desire to learn how to create small leaves to the point that those in beginner classes who have read bonsai books talk about leaf removal to get smaller leaves!  Having a little knowledge is counter-productive and those who teach in this manner never create really great bonsai.  They tend to crank out "bonsai" that all look alike and think that doing so quickly is important.  It isn't!!!

               IN LEARNING FUKU-BONSAI'S TRUE INDOOR BONSAI, AFTER LEARNING THE BASICS OF THE INTRODUCTORY WORKSHOP PACKAGE,  THE FIRST AND MAJOR PRIORITY IS TO LEARN HOW TO GROW A HEALTHY PLANT!  Ryan has created impressive results and I'm very proud of him!  From the beginning,  I teach the three rules for bonsai success:

        1.   Start with trees that will grow strongly for you in your environment or change your environment to fit the needs of your tree!   For those who want to grow bonsai indoors year around in "average" homes and offices,  the best choice is our specialty Dwarf Schefflera which is the most durable and with ideal traits for bonsai of all known houseplants. But Ryan has also demonstrated that optimum growth for Dwarf Schefflera is outdoors whenever night temperatures are above 55°F.  In Hawaii, that's all year around!  For those not living in Hawaii,  you'll get better growth outdoors in warmer seasons.  But you can also get superior growth by providing additional light!

        2.    Start with as much character as possible and there should be character and trunk interest within 1" of the soil line!  All Fuku-Bonsai plants meet this criteria and we only release such plants that are at minimum two to four years in training!  If you don't have that character from the start and don't have the skills or experience to develop that character, the odds are that at best you'll have an old low-quality plant simply because you can go back and create low branch character later.  We start everyone off with high-potential prepared bonsai stock and teach how to create that character from tiny seeds or recently rooted cuttings or how to cull out and discard those that do not meet that standard.  It's not a secret, but few if any beginners will be willing and able.

        3.    So in creating strong growth,  Ryan has completed the third rule for success!  He's already learned the basics of heavy first pruning to set the stage for future growth and in the months to come,  I'll ask Ryan to include reports of developing bonsai using the concept of Fuku-Bonsai's "Interval Training Sequence."   Basically this means that having completed this first stage,  Ryan is at a decision point of where he wants to go with his trees.  He has two basic choices:

                A.   Drastically reduce the tree,  do a major root pruning, and repot back into the same pot to create a small high quality bonsai.  He can shift the plant into an intermediate stage of getting another set of growth points and then move into the refinement stage forever to create a very high-quality small bonsai.  This may be ideal for those with limited space as you can have a nice size collection of small bonsai within a limited area.

                 B.   Up-pot the trees into a larger container,  do a moderate root pruning, and move into intermediate training techniques and work towards creating a medium or large size high-quality bonsai.  I believe this is the direction that Ryan will be taking that will be the subjects of his future reports.  Preparing plants for future rock plantings, landscapes, or as larger bonsai takes planning and this will be stressed.  If you've reached this stage,  you're ready to graduate from the Beginner Study Group to join the Fast-Track Study Group!


                        The Fast-Track Study Group has both privileges and responsibilities and is designed for a long-term win-win relationship.  Members continue learning and providing reports for the Journal and take on greater challenges that could include teaching True Indoor Bonsai to others,  to take on challenging personal projects that utilize rocks and older pre-trained plants,  and to continue to improve and to share progress with others.  We welcome those with those who are willing and able to write and photograph to become members of the Journal's editorial team.

                        Only a small percentage of those interested can learn via website and email. But for those who can,  they will be valuable teachers in their communities.  Fuku-Bonsai's stated goal is to train, assist, supply and support a network of qualified True Indoor Instructors and leaders throughout the entire United States.  The principles are very straightforward.  We will supply the finest prepared bonsai stock and workshop packages with quantity discounts that make effective teaching possible based upon an effective business plan that provides a modest return.  You won't get rich, but you should be able to cover your costs while helping to create a Tropical and True Indoor Bonsai fellowship within your community. 

                         For those with the time, ability, and circumstances,  some Fast-Track Study Group members are heading towards becoming Fuku-Bonsai business associates to represent us in their areas.  In the coming months,  there will be announcements as we create formal long-term memorandums and Fuku-Bonsai Authorized Retailers and representatives. It all begins by becoming a member of a Beginner Study Group. 

                        E KOMO MAI  .  .  .  come discover the serenity of nature, the beauty of bonsai, and the spirit of Hawaii!  You're invited to join us!      ~~~David (david.f@fukubonsai.com)   

© Mid-Pacific Bonsai Foundation and Fuku-Bonsai, 2014