The HS8 Small Dwarf Schefflera Lava Planting trial plant after one year in the 7.5" diameter x 3" high with 6" diameter opening glass "semi-terrarium" filled with two cups of 1/4" screened lava gravel.  The three growth points have each been pruned once and new replacement growth has developed to keep the plant compact.  It seems an ideal environment and healthy white roots develop and are tucked under the rock after the weekly soaking in water.  A pad of roots have developed which can be safely trimmed if it gets too thick. The semi-terrarium is good for extra dry areas.  Deeper gravel seems to be beneficial and recommended with the actual display container to be selected to be attractive in your situation.

at lower cost, with extra gravel, but no saucer!

               For a full year we've run trials on a "semi-terrarium" photoed above.  We introduced the idea in the November 2013 Journal,  and updated the report in the May 2014 Journal as posted at www.fukubonsai.com/2b2a8.html   In that year,  all three growth points reached 7 to 8 leaves, the growth point was cut  back to about the 2 or 3 leaf position and a new replacement growth point developed to keep the tree relatively compact. The tree is growing happily and a small pad of very healthy white roots have developed under the rock that can be trimmed. The rock planting has achieved a point that it is very likely to steadily grow and bring enjoyment for many, many years!

              The concept of the low, wide, high glass walled "semi-terrarium" is especially applicable for extra dry climates.  While Hawaii may seem to have ideal humidity that plants love,  most visitors are concerned about how Dwarf Schefflera will grow in their homes or offices --- as they all seem to believe their situation is extra dry!  Consequently,  customers generally are inclined to overwater their plants, rot the roots, and kill the tree.  We have addressed this overwhelming cause of customer problems! 

       I.     WE ADVISED SOAKING IN WATER FOR 30 MINUTES EACH WEEK!  Do not pour water over the rock and keep water in the bowl!  Do not keep the rock planting on WET gravel.  We strongly made this recommendation many years ago and it has greatly reduced the number of requests for assistance to just a small fraction of the previous number.  We want to totally eliminate problems!

      2.     LOOK OUT FOR HEALTHY WHITE ROOTS OR CREASES IN LEAVES AND TRUNKS!  Healthy white roots tell you all is well.  Creases in leaf stems and trunks indicate underwatering.  These are clear indication of either good health or underwatering. Overwatered plants have black rotting or no roots showing. If you don't see healthy white roots, please request assistance early while we can help!

      3.     OUR PRE-SCREENED 1/4" SIZE POROUS HAWAIIAN LAVA PUMICE IS IDEAL!  Those who use larger smooth dense rocks  have problems as the lava plantings dry out too much.  We believe a larger quantity of our lava pumice is more important and that if you're going to use a larger glass or other container, that you don't need the shallow plastic saucer or other dish. 

       4.    CUSTOMERS LIKE THE IDEA OF SELECTING THEIR OWN DISPLAY CONTAINER, STILL WANT OUR PUMICE, BUT ARE REQUESTING A LARGER AMOUNT TO PRODUCE BETTER GROWTH!   That makes sense and there are enough such requests to introduce this as a standard offering.

---  at a lower cost, with extra gravel but no saucer!

              The three lower examples show our Small size Dwarf Schefflera Lava Plantings with 2 cups of screened porous lava gravel.  (Left)  In 7" diameter flared upper rim glass bowl 4" deep.  (Bottom center) In white 6" diameter x 2" deep bowl.  (Right)  Rounded glass 6" in diameter x 3" deep bowl.   Both the small size and the desk size (XG) extra gravel will include 2 cups of our screened porous lava gravel.

              The top center example is our Medium size Dwarf Schefflera Lava Planting with 3 cups of our screened porous lava gravel that is shown in an 11" Pyrex glass pie plate that is 1 1/2" deep.  Medium and Large sizes don't seem to have problems provided you follow the recommendation to soak in water for 30 minutes each week and place the lava planting on dry gravel while it is still slightly dripping.

               The Large size Dwarf Schefflera really looks nice with no reported problems.  A larger display container at least 12" in diameter (but preferably 14" to 16") is recommended.  Large size HL8(XG) will include 4 cups of our pre-screened porous lava gravel.


               For those customers who have our lava plantings but want to convert to this new display concept and need some extra gravel, here's a deal for you:  Send me a photo of your plant and order any other Fuku-Bonsai lava planting, potted bonsai, or workshop package with standard shipping and I'll enclose some extra gravel with the shipment at no additional charge.  This makes good sense as sending a small amount through FedEx by itself will require a $15 minimum shipping costs.  If sent via postal mail (even in the smallest flat rate envelop) is costly.

               Fuku-Bonsai has been producing the highest quality Hawaiian Lava Plantings commercially in large volume since 1973 and we've been committed to continual improvements.  We've seen a whole bunch of competitors try to copy us by sticking an untrained plant into a large hole bored into a lava rock.  The tree grows straight up and is ugly and one by one they keep going out of business while Fuku-Bonsai's Lava Plantings continue to improve and become more successful.

               Last year I began the semi-terrarium trials and its exceeded all my expectations.  Center visitors seem to agree and many like the idea of selecting their own display container and are happy when we enclose extra gravel with their orders.  I believe Hawaiian Lava Plantings (XG) with extra gravel will become a popular purchase and in the future, we will be developing other display containers to create a variety of complete gift ideas.  Please email me your thoughts and comments as we continue to improve our quality standards and customer success. 

             Warm regards,  ~~~David (david.f@fukubonsai.com)

***   Go to Hawaiian Lava Plantings Giftlist #1

***  Return to the August 2014 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, 2014