Fuku-Bonsai is a highly specialized bonsai nursery committed to production of only the highest potential bonsai plants. It required strong discipline, professional standards, and to consistently stay with a master plan. This was our way.
First, find the ideal plant for the target market. We wanted to create the easiest-care, “popular bonsai” that could be successfully given as gifts even to those who had no bonsai skills or knowledge. The trees needed to live indoors in homes and offices throughout the year, or be grown outdoors when night temperatures are above 55˚F. They must be long-lived and have ideal bonsai traits to develop into “masterpiece” quality standards.
After many years, we selected a specific strain of Dwarf Schefflera (Schefflera arboricola) that was ideal for our growing climate. While it had larger leaves, it grew vigorously, branched well, and had exceptional roots. We ground-planted some of our best bonsai to provide us with a dependable seed source of plants with ideal bonsai characteristics, strong growth, and exceptional root systems.
Second, we created a full range of professional standards. The training techniques to develop character produces a lot of stress and we killed off the geneticly weak plants. Producing strong trees that would survive in less-than-optimum customer homes dictated that we do not baby the plants while also toughening them to adjust to long periods of dark, wet weather as well as make them draught-resistant.
ALL “Fuku-Bonsai prepared bonsai stock” needed to have a compact, shallow root system and lower trunk taper, low branches, or multiple trunks. The initial grading distributed the trees into basically three categories:
1. MINIMUM STANDARD. Trees with only one or two growth points are ruthlessly culled out and discarded. Minimum three and four growth points were used for our popular small size lava plantings, our smallest potted bonsai, or our Introductory Workshop Package.
2. GENERAL STANDARD. Trees with five or more growth point were used for our desk size lava plantings and up-potted to be used in our older, larger products. Small batches of trees were trained with different techniques at different growth stages to produce a range of different designs. These become are medium and medium-large "model item" products.
3. PREMIUM STANDARD. Exceptional trees with many growth points automatically were placed in the Custom Collection grow-out section while still young as soon as they were spotted. They were joined by outstanding trees plucked out of the various production stages and these non-production trees were given a full range of innovative training techniques to produce our best unique trees. These genetically superior trees largely become our oldest and largest Custom Collection.
This cannot be overstated. In high-volume production nurseries, unless there is a disciplined effort to create a range of results, the trees will look the same. Clearly, our goal was not to produce cheap, “cookie-cutter” bonsai.
Third, we produce high-value "model item bonsai." Only the selected premium standard plants are retained to be developed into Custom Collection to be trained, priced, and sold individually. DOESN'T ALL OF THIS MAKE SENSE? The last thing a high-quality bonsai nursery needs is a lot of old low-quality trees!
Our Hawaiian Lava Plantings are unique souvenirs of a Hawaiian vacation and arehand-carried to all parts of the United States. These “True Indoor Bonsai™” are the most successful gift bonsai for anyone, anywhere who can grow house plants. When the packages are opened, there’s information about Fuku-Bonsai, the www.fukubonsai.com website, and our other products. This continual introduction to additional customers allows us to quietly sell out our production of younger items without advertising.
Visitors seek, find us, and enjoy visiting our working nursery and bonsai collection. The first visit often results in purchase of Hawaiian Lava Plantings. On a second visit, they may purchase Premium Potted Bonsai or take an Introductory Bonsai Workshop. If they join our study groups or become repeat customers, they develop the confidence to grow and train our plants. These are the most desirable customers for our Custom Collection plants which are the cream of our years of efforts. We prefer to sell them to our older customers who know how to grow our trees.
OUR CURRENT CUSTOM COLLECTION POLICIES
The following are two recent sales to illustrate our preferred way to sell Custom Collection:
EDUCATING AND SUPPLYING TO OUR CUSTOMERS AND "TEAM"!
Some customers prefer to purchase developed trees while others enjoy developing their own. We made the major break-through in 2007 and developed the Introductory Workshop Package. This has been an extraordinary success and we’ve shipped thousands to individuals and bonsai clubs to use in their beginner bonsai classes. These are especially valued by isolated individuals who do not have contact with bonsai clubs or cannot obtain quality plant materials for growing indoors.
After the first trial, customers will often purchase four to get free shipping. Some purchase eight to get a 25% discount and free shipping. The most enthusiastic will purchase sixteen to get a 50% discount and free shipping! These individuals may select plants for their own collections and teach a few others. In teaching others, they learn the most and we are happy to assist with teachers’ aids.
The most active will work with a local garden shop to co-sponsor and host bonsai classes. There’s never enough growing area and when the space fills up, the hobbyists will sell excess trees at their garden shop partner to make room to develop their most promising plants. No one will get rich growing bonsai, but by partnering with Fuku-Bonsai, they become effective in teaching others and their students are generally successful. They will often form and lead bonsai clubs made up of their students.
The upgraded Premium Introductory Workshop Package was introduced in 2014 and has become the most popular for workshops at the Fuku-Bonsai Cultural Center. It features older, larger prepared bonsai stock in Sumo, Roots, and Hawaiian Dragon styling. We are currently adding a Root-Over-Rock option and we continue to invite individuals to join our study group to get one-on-one personalized assistance.
For those growing a few bonsai, learning how to grow them is the key to success and we are committed to help as much as possible. The Fuku-Bonsai website is has the most True Indoor Bonsai resource information and it is being re-edited and re-built to make finding information easier.
FUKU-BONSAI DOES NOT CURRENTLY DIRECTLY USE SOCIAL MEDIA
In the past, in the days that Google and other search engines ranked websites based upon the quality of content, "CONTENT WAS KING!" and we were consistently on the first page of Google. But their criteria has changed and we are not likely to be on page 1 because we refuse to use social media. I'm not interested in creating a huge following and devoting my time to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other social media. I just don't like to spin wheels. I do want to help those who like our True Indoor Bonsai and I would rather continue to have one-on-one direct email contact with customers.
I would much rather continue to improve the website and begin to re-issue a monthly email FBnews. With the help of an emailing service to maintain our emailing list, we'll add articles continuously and send out monthly notifications when the articles are formatted into an "issue." If you're a Fuku-Bonsai customer, recipient, or a potential customer, you're invited to sign-up on the website homepage to receive monthly email notifications.
CHANGES BEING PLANNED FOR THE CUSTOM COLLECTION SECTION
The most popular Custom Collection items are the "Entry-Level" and it makes sense. When an older Premium Potted Bonsai in a 9" or 12" pot is up-potted to a 17"x12"x2" oval pot, it already has a lot of character already developed. These are at least 10 years in training and selected from the best of the high-value model item products. At this transition, the trees receive a first class repotting to develop an ideal root system and major detailed training. With a larger more efficient root system after restricted controlled growth, the trees take on a major growth spurt to thicken trunks and create a network of branches as well as produce the greatest amount of aerial roots!