The Fuku-Bonsai Cultural Center Entry Tree is a Dwarf Schefflera in training since 1974 and amongst the oldest of all Dwarf Schefflera bonsai.  It is trained on a 72" diameter concrete disc turntable in a Rainforest Banyan styling with multiple trunks and extensive aerial roots. 

(Portal Page)

               There are many forms and concepts of bonsai.  Taken in its broadest sense, bonsai include all forms of international artistic pot plants and takes on the unlimited forms of a art, craft and hobby.  Within the vast scope,  Fuku-Bonsai's TRUE INDOOR BONSAI™ is unique.   We are the pioneering innovator of growing, teaching, and supplying proven durable houseplants in a unique bonsai manner.  We focus on success and anyone, anywhere who can grow houseplants can be successful with our plants.  The reasons are very logical:

               We specialize in Dwarf Schefflera (Schefflera arboricola), the ideal houseplant that has exceptional ideal traits for bonsai!  It is the most durable of all houseplants that will branch well and develop attractive trunks, branches, crowns, and strong vigorous root systems.  It is long-lived and can create world-class masterpiece quality bonsai as both large and tiny bonsai.  This tree was introduced to the Western world in the early 1970's largely by the then new Hawaii certified export nursery industry and in the trade, the plant's common name is the "Hawaiian Umbrella Tree."  We have grown it in larger quantities than anyone else and our Dwarf Schefflera bonsai set the quality standards for this tree and we are continually improving!

                Dwarf Schefflera can be trained into more stylings than any other tree trained as bonsai. With proper care and by providing the proper growing conditions,  it will thrive and continue to improve its shape even when grown indoors throughout the year.  It will survive longer in bad growing conditions that will kill other bonsai.  Plants need light and will not grow in dark caves.  They need the proper amount of moisture and fast-draining potting mixtures as well as the proper fertilizer and care.  It's needs are very well known and yet each year, people successfully kill these tough trees because they believe they have intuitive skills and expect the plants to be able to adapt to their whims. They won't and those who believe this should not be growing bonsai!

                The first basic rule for bonsai success is "Select the plant variety that can grow well for you in your environment and adjust your care and environment to meet the needs of the plant!"  Dwarf Schefflera is proven successful throughout the world and if you cannot grow this plant, it is very unlikely you can grow any bonsai! 

               The second basic rule for bonsai success is "Start with plants that already have as much character as possible to be able to avoid the most difficult three years required to create prepared bonsai starter stock."   Our standards call for trunk character within 1" of the soil line, with branches and a shallow compact root system within 1/2" below that soil line!  With such starter material and well researched and selected components of the Introductory Workshop Package,  Fuku-Bonsai customers have excellent odds of success! 

               The third and final basic rule for bonsai success is"Develop the cultural skills and provide the best possible growing environment to get the plants to thrive and grow vigorously!"  Bonsai are not stunted plants! Plants that are growing strongly will develop well and are easier to train.  Learning the proper water, fertilizer, and other growing techniques are reasonably achievable and we'll assist. 

               All of this is very doable for those willing to learn.  Creating exceptional growth is really the key and increasingly, those who struggle with traditional temperate climate outdoor bonsai are switching to Fuku-Bonsai's True Indoor Bonsai!  They are learning the differences in soil mixtures, watering and fertilizer practices, and finding that True Indoor Bonsai grow faster and better when grown outdoors whenever the low night temperature exceed 50°F!   Increasingly there is a faster evolution to True Indoor Bonsai and this Journal of Tropical and True Indoor Bonsai provides a vehicle to build a community!  We invite you to join us!


               Each form of bonsai has its own method.  Traditional Japanese temperate climate outdoor bonsai is largely a codified cultural craft with thousands of rules and guidelines where disciples revel in arguing the nuances of each rule or fine point.  It reflects the Japanese love of conformity and concensus where it is much more important to be accepted as part of a group than to be a rugged individual!

               There are many forms of Chinese penjing, but the one most currently known is a very export-oriented commercial form produced in huge quirky quantities.  Fuku-Bonsai has been especially influenced by the older "aristocratic scholarly" form, that was really an art of the elite. This largely died out with the People's Revolution and the later Cultural Revolution when the wealthy classes were killed off and the best penjing destroyed. Much of the knowledge only exists in ancient scrolls and shared by cultural innovators like the late Yee-sun Wu of Hong Kong.  Those who practiced this form all shared a common graduate liberal arts education and had basic horticultural knowledge.  They knew what they wanted and what they didn't like.  This form of penjing is being revised by a full range of rugged individuals and creative innovators. Some are really ugly, but none are boring! 

               Tropical bonsai is still being developed.  Those who love traditional temperate climate bonsai simply substitute easier care tropicals but follow the Japanese structural patterns.  So you'll see ficus, elms, and azaleas trees in the single apex - tier branched forms of pine trees styling favored by the Japanese.  Increasingly tropical bonsai are taking on tropical tree shapes.

              Fuku-Bonsai's True Indoor Bonsai is also still evolving and developing its own styling concepts based on tropical tree shapes, but also concepts of Chinese artistic pot plants.   


              Dwarf Schefflera is different in the way that it grows and the shapes it can achieve!  We're really not even close to achieving the possibilities and have already created more stylings than any other tree trained as bonsai. So we need to invent a new descriptive language to quickly understand concepts and to create visual images and after a lot of thought, came up with three significant descriptive styling concepts:  "SUMO,"  "ROOTS," and "HAWAIIAN DRAGONS!"


          Bonsai is an interpretation and to create the illusion of a large tree with a lot of aged character, it's very desirable to have a proportionally thick heavy trunk with a lot of character and interest.  If you start with young seedlings that have never been trained, you'll have a skimpy straight trunk that even a bonsai master can't do much to train.  It takes about three years to create some trunk interest, low branches, and the start of a compact shallow root system. This is Fuku-Bonsai's major basic training strategy.
          Most bonsai train trunks, branches, and twigs with modest effort to get nice surface roots.  But roots are a major focus with Dwarf Schefflera as banyan tree forms are the primary design inspiration! Not all banyans are  stout, heavy-trunked, wide-crowned trees.  Some begin as epiphytes that germinate from seeds that birds leave high in a forest canopy.  It strangles the tree as the roots seek the ground and after the host tree dies, a tall elegant banyan form develops with attractive elegant designs and "Roots" is increasingly popular.  Between Sumo and Roots, it's possible to create all forms of upright banyan shapes.  Roots is ideal for rock planting and other designs and this will be detailed in future issues.
            This is our newest and most difficult challenge to create twisty-turny fun bonsai!  It is possible to use bonsai wiring techniques to create tight sharp bends on trunks and branches and we call these "Top Dragons.".  It is also possible to create complex "Bottom Dragon" root designs.  So our most complex combined efforts are "Top and Bottom Dragons" with impressive exciting results.  This is our current area of trials that we share with the most active Foundation members.  Please request more information if interested in participating in our most advanced styling trials.          


                  This portal will focus on styling concepts.  Of all of those interested in bonsai, only a relatively few have enough energy, time, and interest to pursue all aspects of training a large number of original bonsai designs.  By a quirk of fate,  I've had the privilege and opportunity to do so since 1962 and progressed through the Hawaiian version of traditional Japanese bonsai and Chinese penjing. 

                  The craft concepts of Japanese bonsai and the philosophical and art orientations of Chinese penjing made it possible for me to understand and make contributions to refining Tropical Hawaiian high-light outdoor bonsai and we mastered the structural designs of tropical trees that generally follow multiple apex - arched branching.  The addition of free-falling aerial roots resulted in complex banyans and although our initial research was done with ficus, that knowledge was very readily transferred to Dwarf Schefflera.

                  It is possible to recreate every possible banyan styling with Sumo and Roots.  But as we discovered what else is possible with Dwarf Schefflera,  we began to see styling based upon interpretations of an active dragon!

                  Current plans are to first add details of our three basic Sumo, Roots, and Dragons, and other variations including rock plantings, etc.  The portal will then include a gallery of various bonsai with information of how they were created or other information of interest.  


                 This portal began in January 2013 as part of the premier issue number one of the Journal of Tropical and True Indoor Bonsai.  *** Return to MPBF Journal Issue #1

***  Return to Fuku-Bonsai website home page

***  Go to Mid-Pacific Bonsai Foundation website homepage

© Mid-Pacific Bonsai Foundation and Fuku-Bonsai Inc., 2013