Packing for shipment and getting plants safely to any part of the United States is an art and a challenge!  Customers send us happy notes  about our plants,  the way the plants were packed, and the great arrival condition!  We create the finest True Indoor Bonsai and put just as much effort into packing!  Shipping is complex and we do our best to cover all details.  We ship throughout the year, but only to destinations that report low temperatures will be above freezing (32F).  For those areas that are too cold to ship, we hold back shipments and try to send email notifications. When it starts to get chilly, we begin using extra insulation.  In borderline situations, we utilize shipping heat packs.


                 Paul Bakerman of Phoenix, Arizona left a rock at Fuku-Bonsai last year, selected a plant and concept, and I agreed to incorporate it.  The story is at posted at  This is the story of shipping that bonsai.

                 Paul's "Banyan Cove"  is in a 17"x12"x2" oval plastic pot.  The main rock is mounted and wires through the cement base lock it into the bottom of the pot.  Rounded ocean rocks create an interesting surface texture and when packed, the carton weighed 24 pounds. 

             On Tuesday, October 22, Paul's and Mary Lou's plants were taken to Hawaii Department of Agriculture Plant Quarantine as both are from Arizona which requires a phytosanitary certificate.  A pallet that just fitted into the shipping carton was made and "Banyan Cove" is shown as packing began.  The shipping carton will be 16"x16"x10" and a second carton will be telescoped to create a double thickness 16"x16"x16" tall carton.    

           The surface decoration is smoothed ocean rocks and two small bags of different sizes were included to allow Paul to finish the details.  When Hawaiian lava is smoothed either in the ocean or rivers,  some are very smooth with others having holes throughout.  Various sizes and types were positioned to add interest.  

             Note that the pot is sitting on 2" of crumpled newspaper to cushion if the plant is dropped in transit. Additional crumpled newspaper holds the rounded rocks in position.         

            The top and bottom of the pot is taped together and held with masking tape.  A larger polybag is slit and holds all newspaper in position and secured with plastic tape.

           The cushioned plant is placed on the pallet and ready to be strapped down tight.
            Strong 3/4" monofilament tape is used to strap the plant to the pallet.   

             The foliage is wrapped with newspaper as leaves should not touch the sides of the shipping carton as the boxes may become either too hot or too cold enroute to destination in unheated cargo planes.        

             A white polybag goes over the paper.  Air is the best insulator so the various layering to trap air will protect the plant from heat and cold.  During colder seasons, we add more insulation and will use 60-hour shipping heat packs in marginal shipping situations.  In the past year we were lucky and not a single plant was damaged in shipping!
             The pallet fits into the 16"x16"x10" carton. 
            The pallet is gun-stapled through the carton and this will prevent the plant from moving within the carton.
           A second 16"x16"x10" box is telescoped over the one holding the plant so there is a double thickness protecting the plant. 
             The packing list, phytosanitary certificate, and other materials are taped to a carton flap, the flaps and box closed, and stapled and taped. 
             The completed shipping carton with FedEx label, Hawaii Department of Agriculture Certified Nursery stamp, the USDA-APHIS stamp and a shipping label informing that the plant enclosed is secured to the bottom pallet.  To remove safely, slit all corners so sides fall to give access to the strapping tapes holding the plant to the pallet. 
            The plants were packed and ready by the FedEx pick-up time. FedEx allows tracking all shipments and guarantees arrival in any part of the continental U.S. from Hawaii within 48 hours.  They sometimes deliver to West Coast addresses within 24 hours.  We have scheduled pickups every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and can call in a pick-up if a Thursday inter-island shipping is necessary.  Wednesday is our slowest shipping day so we had more than enough time to pack all plants going out.  As one of over 500 members of the Hawaii Shippers Association, we receive a special shipping rate to allow us to create  FLAT RATE SHIPPING CHARGES!

            It is preferable to have a simple flat rate system to make it easy for customers to compute their orders rather than having to calculate each order separately.  Most of our orders are either for a single gift plant or several plants going to the same address.  So we came up with the following easy to use system.  Pricing of our plant model items were calculated and adjusted based upon the FedEx Hawaii to Continental U.S. rate (which is the same from Hawaii.)  The $15 for the first plant just barely covers the actual cost of packing and shipping our smallest items and this covers the cost of the packing carton, all packing materials and supplies, as well as the actual FedEx charges.

          Customers who mail or ship parcels recognize that the $15 for the first plant is very reasonable --- especially when it applies to the first plant possibly being a HL8 Large Size Dwarf Schefflera Lava Planting or a Custom Collection!  SO HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE?

          Because it is very desirable to have a simple system,  the larger plant prices actually subsidizes the cost of shipping so there is no "shipping sticker shock" or "abandoned shopping carts" when you complete your order as you already know your shipping costs!  Shipping costs per pound reduce as the parcel gets heavier so when two plants are shipping to the same address,  the cost is $22 ($11 each instead of $15).  And when three plants are shipping to the same address,  shipping is just $24 ($8 each instead of $15!)  That's a good deal --- but it gets better!  FREE SHIPPING WHEN 4 OR MORE PLANTS ARE SENT TO THE SAME ADDRESS!   (Note:  Alaska FedEx $10 surcharge;  Arizona $20 phytosanitary certificate fee)

          SO WHAT'S THE ANGLE?  It's simple.  Every order also has an administrative operational cost built into the first plant.  For two or three plants, there administrative costs, carton costs, as well as FedEx lower costs.  But at four or more,  there's enough savings to justify FREE SHIPPING!  

         Customers are impressed that shipping charges from such a small Hawaii company are very reasonable.  This is due to being a member of a large shipping organization and we can send by FedEx Air to the East Coast at a lower cost than shippers from the West Coast!  Unlike in the Continental U.S. where only the largest shippers get discounts, FedEx (or UPS) needs consolidated volume to Hawaii and will give all members of our organization a discount rate regardless of size.  (***Revised from original;  shipping charges subject to change without notice.)


***  Return to the November 2013 issue of Journal of Tropical and True Indoor Bonsai
***  Go to the October 2013 issue of Journal of Tropical and True Indoor Bonsai
***  Go to the Mid-Pacific Bonsai Foundation website
***  Go to Fuku-Bonsai website
***  Go to Custom Collection
***  Go to "Experiencing Fuku-Bonsai's Shipping/Packing System"
        Mid-Pacific Bonsai Foundation and Fuku-Bonsai, 2013