July 2017:    ALOHA!  In November 2014, our computers crashed and the JOURNAL OF TROPICAL AND TRUE INDOOR BONSAI ended.  This will be in the first FBnews email newsletter which will include updated articles to show the progress of trees that were created earlier.  "Rock Pile Bonsai" was published in the Journal's August 2014 issue. The original Rock Pile Bonsai article is at:

                        It's been just short of three years and to create more aerial roots, the tree was placed in deep shade and crowded on a bench with a lot of other similar sized plants and allowed to over-grow with no major amount of attention.  At Fuku-Bonsai, there's always things that need attention and this "BENIGHTED NEGLECT" is an effective part of our professional strategy for creating strong impressive trees!  The sticks holding the plant upright had rotted and collapsed and staff brought the tree in for me to work on.  It had grown large, was very top heavy, and while there were a lot more roots, the roots were not heavy enough to support the tree so it toppled over!

                        Initially, I had not planned to create an update article.  After cutting back the rampant foliage growth, I was impressed with how much the aerial roots had grown with many new heavy roots!  Most were still bendable but some roots were already too thick and I ended up chiseling and removing them.  I didn't like the two root column design and decided to combine the root mass and create a self-supporting exposed "HAWAIIAN DRAGON" exposed root design.  Halfway into restyling, I realized that Fuku-Bonsai newsletter readers would enjoy learning some advanced training concepts and I began taking photos.  Here's the last photo from the previous article and the first one that I took halfway into restyling.

                          First notice that the rampant growth in almost three years has greatly thicken all woody parts of the tree. Wheras the aerial roots were about 1/4" in diameter 3 years ago,  some were about 1/2" and I removed the largest ones because they were too thick to bend!  It is possible I may remove a few more large roots near the head of the tree to improve the overall taper and appearance.  By first barerooting and separating each of the long roots,  I was able to bend one at a time, using temporary ties to keep them tight. When all bending was done, starting at the "dragon's head" very strong green plastic ties pulled the roots to make a compact 6" diameter root-column that easily supported itself.

                         The end of the root-column was a bit smaller than the heaviest upper part and so the lowest 12" of roots were fitted onto the "root trail crevasses" of a sculptured lava rock and this enlarged the base and greatly improved the taper and design.  Having the abundant roots strongly grasping the rock made it very easy to position it in the larger plastic training pot.  Two smaller rocks were wedged to help support the larger rocky tilted base.  Currently the dragon is more or less centered over the pot, but at the next repotting, the rock will be rotated and the dragon will be positioned into a more dynamic position and a more attractive head will be formed with existing branches!


             Utilizing aluminum foil for extending roots and for rock-planting is now a common Fuku-Bonsai practice. The foil was applied, strong thin monofilament tape reinforced and tightened, and medium coarse potting media was dibbled in using a spoon that was modified into a "U-shaped open-ended scooper-funnel-and dibble tool." 
             Foiling and dibbling progressed fairly quickly and this photo shows the other side after the root-column and the top foil section was installed.  Note that as sections are filled, that long dibbles probe to fill empty areas,  that the foil is pushed out by the potting media, and the foil takes on a rounded appearance that will become a solid 6" diameter root-trunk mass.
             To end this training session, 1/4" holes were made 1" apart with a rounded head Phillips screwdriver that was also used to dibble in media.  Remaining branches were pruned back, envisioning a more attractive "Dragon Head" when the rock-planted exposed root tree is repotted in a different position in the future.  It may take several years to fill out the root-trunk column. 

           The tree is in the nursery's "Old Plant Bank" where we work on trees that are not for sale. Trees for sale are only in the sales area and visitors are not allowed in the nursery. Over half of the foil cover have been removed and just with needed watering, the roots will become exposed.  The remaining foil can be removed at any time as there were well established old roots and the foil was primarily to encourage new hair roots to develop.  The tree has leafed out. 

            This tree can only be sold to buyers in states that allow trees not grown under certified conditions to be tested and/or be cleared.  As such is sits on a bench with other non-certified bonsai.  It is sufficiently different to be part of our permanent exhibit collection in the future.





         COMMENTS AND CONCLUSION.  If you go back to the first article about this tree, you'l note that this article describes the fourth major training session.  The tree is from a seedling that germinated about 2005 so is currently about 13 years in training --- but what weird non-traditional bonsai training!

           I think that's an important part of bonsai and at Fuku-Bonsai we try to give each tree a lot of character and high bonsai potential by training that begins very early.  We work in small batches so we don't have a whole lot of trees from one batch all being trained in the same way using the same technique by the same people.  If you wanted to really crank out a whole bunch of cheap "cookie-cutter bonsai," that's the easiest way to train them and unfortunately,  there are too many bonsai nurseries who are following that strategy.

           They usually sell through large outlets like Amazon,  Home Depot, etc. where hobbyists really can't get any amount of information or help.  Most of these stores cannot or will not list the name of the bonsai grower who supplied them with contact information if the new owner needs help.  That partly explains why most bonsai quickly die.  A large number of "bonsai growers" actually buy bonsai expecting them to die in less than a year with the intention of buying another when it dies!  Many of our customers were like that and are very proud to tell me how long ago they first received a Fuku-Bonsai True Indoor Bonsai! 

          A large number of those who visit us are repeat customers, have grown our trees for many years,  and often will write back that the workshop taken here was the highlight of their Hawaiian vacation.  Others tell me they were visiting when I was training a specific bonsai that is a part of the permanent educational exhibit.  Usually Michael Imaino and Edison Yadao get to teach the workshops and visitors enjoy showing how the trees are shaped and will often ask for their recommendations or comments.  That's really great and both Michael and Edison continue to improve their skills and incorporate new techniques into their classes.

          It's been a while since the last monthly email newsletter and as we prepare to start issuing them monthly again, I hope you enjoy the articles of how trees have developed.  There are a large number of undated articles to come!  Mahalo!  Please email me at if I can be of assistance!

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