By John "Jay" Boryczko, Journal Contributing Editor (Farmington Hills, Michigan)
When describing my new hobby to family and friends they would refer or say, “oh, just like the Karate Kid movies.” Actually, in 1984 with the release of the “Karate Kid” movie was my first knowledge of bonsai. These movies brought enormous limelight to bonsai within the US. Unfortunately, the sudden thrust in bonsai popularity made it difficult to obtain accurate information. Remember this is prior to the Internet and search sites such as Google or Bing.
Caught up in this new artistic outlet and not wanting to be left behind it was inevitable that I would one day own a bonsai. Due to the limited information available for the average “Jay,” I managed to destroy or kill my first new bonsai a few months later. However, I did not give up and the hunt was on . . .
The hunt for another tree with limited information led me to a shop in Mt. Clemens, Michigan, less than 10 miles from home. This shop owner had two separate areas, one for outdoor temperate climate trees, and another for indoor trees. Initially, only exposed to outdoor temperate climate trees, I ignored the trees that were growing inside. Returning every Saturday afternoon to the store, I would look over the outdoor trees, chat, and ask the proprietor many questions, which he was willing to answer, offer many suggestions and address styling and planting needs. It did not take long before the Michigan weather turned, and I was stuck . . . having to go all winter looking from afar at the snow covered trees, essentially raining and snowing on my “bonsai” parade.
With a hankering to work on trees during the long winter months led me back to the shop asking many questions regarding indoor trees. Who wants to stand outside in the cold and snow looking at what appears to be lifeless trees, not dead --- just in winter hibernation. Indoors, became my new venture during the chilly months of Michigan. True Indoor Tropical Bonsai trees gave me something to look forward too and they were still green, lush, and growing. Here's my disclaimer as I need to clarify the difference between indoor tropical bonsai, and Fuku-Bonsai's True Indoor Tropical Bonsai.
Indoor tropical bonsai are not indoor houseplants. These plants require a great deal of attention and more light than Fuku-Bonsai's True Indoor Bonsai. Included are a few pictures of my tropical bonsai. One is a Fukien Tea and the other is a Chinese Sweet Plum.
They both need quite a bit of work yet but that is part of the fun. If I were to place these trees by a window as the bonsai pictured below, their survival would be in question.
Fuku-Bonsai's True Indoor Bonsai are houseplants; it is more forgiving to lower home lighting conditions than tropical bonsai. Paying attention to the temperatures in Michigan is crucial when growing indoor tropical trees. They can grow outside if temperatures reach or stay above 55 degrees and you must bring them in doors should it drop below. Usually, I reserve major work such as root pruning and major styling when the trees are at their most vigorous; Michigan months are July and August. This period works the best for my situation and the trees bounce back enthusiastically.
AN INVITATION TO CONTACT ME DIRECTLY
At this time, I would like to reach out to those who may be eager to learn or interested in growing indoor or outdoor bonsai trees to contact me at email@example.com with questions or concerns. Many of my friends believe all bonsai are grown indoors and were too delicate to withstand being outdoors for winter. The exact opposite is true, temperate climate trees need to be outside during the winter months. My friends also thought bonsai was a species of tree and did not understand the loose translation of bonsai, “tree in a container or pot.” You can see the pictures of my lathe structure, grass, flowers, and my outdoor bonsai, clearly showing that they are in winter hibernation.
In my opinion, tropical bonsai’s popularity is increasing because the thought of leaving a potted plant outside for winter scares most people. These trees become like children to them and feel they are abandoning their children by leaving them outside. For example, my girlfriend Laura often talks to my trees, as if they are children and rotates them so each of them get a chance at some sun light. In addition, the maintenance required for outdoor trees and the tropical indoor bonsai may be more of a commitment than beginners to this exciting hobby are willing to put forth. Many believe bonsai are hard to care for, most who make that comment, have had one, and killed it. They killed it because they could not meet the particular species requirements for water, light, and temperature.
Fuku-Bonsai's True Indoor Bonsai requires the least amount of attention and are the easiest bonsai to care for because they are houseplants. Following the provided cultural care sheet, exponentially increase your odds of success. Spend some time looking over this site and read the stories of others who tried them . . .
Tropical bonsai is an exciting addition to my need to continue learning about and growing bonsai. Fuku Bonsai offers the beginner through the experienced bonsai enthusiast an opportunity to expand their knowledge and skills. On that note, David is challenging me to create a 360° Michigan rock and tree planting for the May issue of this journal. As you can see from the pictures in this article, I have some snow to contend with while hunting for suitable rocks. Some interesting notes if you are also a “Trekie” you will see bonsai in the background in the “Voyager” and “Next Generation” TV series.
Mahalo and best regards, - - - Jay (Bonsaijay@outlook.com)
SOME PERSONAL COMMENTS BY DAVID: I hope it's okay with Jay that I share some information so everyone can easily understand why I believe that Jay will become just as important to the Journal of Tropical and True Indoor Bonsai as Jerry, Ryan, or me. He first wrote to me on August 9, 2013 with excerpts as follows:
First, I am glad to have found your site and what you are trying to accomplish, AWESOME!!! I guess I will start with a little information about my experience with Bonsai. I have been practicing the art since 1990. I use the term practicing, though I have what appears to be a lengthy history, it has not been a continuous 23 years.
I have one Bonsai left from the beginning a Hedera helix 'Scutifolia'. Now that life has slowed down some, I have a renewed vigor to learn more. During this quest, I have been reading and came across your critique for Jerry’s book and now your website. I was once a member of the Ann Arbor Bonsai Society and had the pleasure of Jerry Meislik’s wisdom on a monthly basis and a demonstration on a Yew during a club picnic.
I still have the tree from a ficus workshop Jerry did just before he left for Minnesota or on a trip back to Ann Arbor I cannot remember. For workshop trees, the club would draw a number from a hat and if you had that number, you picked the tree you wanted to work on for the workshop. As luck would have it, I ended up last and got the runt of the litter. I think I like it better that way.
What kind of a challenge would it be if you have to start with a tree where branching, taper, and nebari were already well established? Jerry remarked that it was not that bad and I needed to turn what appears ugly into the most interesting part of the tree. The interesting part is the tree is still ugly, with a face, only a mother (me) could love, and that was over a decade ago.
From the photos, I can see I have a lot of work to do. The photos attached are a week after repotting and defoliation, which fits with Jerry’s July defoliation article. I have both indoor (tropical) and temperate (outdoor) trees. Living just north of Detroit, my indoor trees are on vacation outside and by mid-September, they will be in my basement under 400-watt metal halide light. Not certain where you feel I fit into your program, fast track, 1:10, but would like to try . . .
Looking forward to your reply, Jay Boryczko
I replied and about a week later received an email that he had called in his order, the staff had shipped it (including a few complimentary items we send to those joining our study group) and that FedEx had delivered it in good condition . . . ALL WITHIN ONE WEEK! WOW! THIS GUY REALLY GETS THINGS DONE! So began the same high energy sequence that I earlier experienced with enthusiastic Ryan Chang!
Since then there have been highs and lows, great progress and innovations interspersed with redos. It's really only been less than six months and I'm delighted that Jay has become our newest contributing editor. He has an unlimited potential and I'm excited for him and about him! I appreciate him being willing and able to help others. Please feel free to contact him directly and if you have as much energy and interest in learning bonsai, please contact me too!