This is a project begun many years ago and features the lead plant that was used to pioneer several new concepts as shown in the development sequence photos.  It is one of the first of what became known as the Hawaiian Dragon styling concept.  First we created a "Top Dragon"  with a sharp bend at the base of the trunk.  Then extended the roots as a preparatory step to creating dynamically twisted roots. Over time this would become a "Top and Bottom Dragon" which is our most manipulated styling concept.  Beyond that, we established a goal to expose these roots!

     2011.  The tree had been grown from seed planted in 2000 and was eleven years in training when we introduced our "1:10 Project" which uses a shallow saucer-pot that is 10 times wider than it is deep. The objective was to create attractive bonsai that was not dominated by overly deep pots.  The article was first published in the American Bonsai Society Journal in their Fall 2011 issue, reproduced on our website, and posted at www.fukubonsai.com/1a6e.html 

     That specific article introduced an innovative "wire-armature" technique as an advanced "Hawaiian Dragon" styling technique.  It was an evolution of our extended "Roots" styling concepts that at the time was limited primarily to straight roots falling parallel. We had begun to weave and arrange the long roots but needed a technique to give us more control to create more dramatic twists and bends.  The wire armature did this.

     Since then we have developed several variations including the use of much heavier wires that are intended to be easily removed once the twists and bends are established and the roots are thick enough to support the bonsai.   


      NOVEMBER 2012.  About 18 months after the original article was written and submitted to ABS, the tree had developed well.  We introduced the 1:10 Project to our staff and Myrtle created the small wire armature dragon pictured. 

      At this stage,  the wire armature seemed to be working, but when the root column was probed, it was found that most of the roots were along the outer edges of the root column and the long term plan was to expose the roots to lighten the visual mass. 

      Note that a large "complex character cutting" was removed from the top section and was rooted.




















       JUNE 2013.  Seven months later,  that "complex character cutting" had rooted,  the Dragon had filled out, and in addition to exposing most of the roots,  the top section was to be reduced again.  This would provide two cuttings from the same tree so when planted together, the arrangement would have identical leaf size, shape, and characteristics.  This is an important concept to understand.  Dwarf Schefflera, like many other tropical trees,  are highly variable and plants grown from seed tend to be like hybrids.  If any two plants are planted together,  it would be distracting if they had different characteristics,  sizes, shapes, etc.

        A second "complex character cutting" was removed to be rooted to be planted together with the first one as part of a two-cutting rock planting.

       The Dragon was bare-rooted and as expected, most of the roots were on the outside,  the wire armature was inside surrounded with media, but there were just a few roots running through it. 

       The roots did not develop strongly inside of the foil and it would b relatively easy to remove the wire armature and to expose the roots and this was done with a dibble and root hook.

       The roots were "bundled" with paper-covered thin wire that would rot away and not bite into the roots.  I prefer to bundle the roots as the compressed roots hold up the tree more securely and open up a lot of space to visually lighten the "root-trunk."  I tend to do this whenever I bare-root and expose the entire roots at the same time. 

       In other cases,  when the the media is teased out a little at a time and the roots have a longer time to thicken, I've allowed the roots to stay in their natural position without bundling.  I tend to make these decisions on the spot and try to follow as many different concepts as possible to create the widest range of finished effects. 

       By removing so much media at the same time, the roots were not able to support the tree.  Some support wire was attached to the holes in the bottom of the saucer-pot and temporarily tied to various portions of the roots.   One section did not have roots and to create a more stable base appearance a rock was positioned in that empty space and media sloped up. 

      Normally,  standard watering would flatten out that mounded media.  So the bottom foil apron was formed to hold that mound in place to allow fine root hairs to form.  That is a critical part of creating a future sloped terrain on the surface of the saucer-pot.


       The original and the second "complex character cutting" in June 2013 to be used as the second cutting of a "2-Cutting Rock Planting" that was done just two months later and which is posted at:






           AUGUST 2013:  In just two months the second "complex character cutting" was starting to root and it was a good time to do that "2-Cutting Rock Planting."  The foliage is leafing out and this photo shows what is probably the "back view" of this bonsai.  It really has three attractive views and three photos were taken with each of the three bottom legs showing one of the three views.  The highest standard True Indoor Bonsai have three attractive views.  For this trees, we prefer to use round pots so any view can be enjoyed at any time.

           When the foil is removed, this view will feature the root structure with a nice rock in the front-left foreground and the mass of the foliage as a green background. 

          This is one of our oldest trees in the "1:10 Project" that utilizes shallow saucer-pots that are 10 times wider than they are deep.  This is much more attractive rather than deep pots dominate trees with thin trunks.  Most bonsai hobbyists think that they need that pot depth or their bonsai will die.  We do not kill trees and these and others are grown here in full sun in Hawaii all year around and therefore develop more rapidly. 



          This project began in 2000 when the seed was planted so the tree is just 13 years in training.  It's gone through several major training sessions and was the lead tree in several of them.  As such, it is one of our favorite trees. The original article and the summary provides details of the development stages and the techniques used.  Although these techniques may seem new to those who have not previously been exposed to them,  they are not secrets and Fuku-Bonsai has freely shared them on this website which went up in 1999, just a year before we planted the seed crop that produced this tree. 

          We've used the aluminum foil as part of root extensions for longer than that with a steady small and large improvements being continually developed.  We now make great effort to contour the surface of the shallow saucer-pot, adding a fine layer of organic material and fine aggregate on the surface.  We cover the entire saucer-pot surface first and extend up the root-trunk as high as possible.  In this case, the first foil covered the bottom and about halfway up the root-trunk.  A second foil column protected the top half.

          Note that below the foil,  a large number of hair roots are now colonizing the surface and this is a good situation.  The foil will be loosely replaced to allow the hair roots to harden off to be followed by increasingly heavier roots which will hold the contoured surface intact.  The foil will be loosened and more air holes created in the foil cover.  Over time,  moss will grow on that surface. 

          I am constantly asked how long to leave the foil on and of course it depends upon the situation!  Why do you need it?  When will the need be over? You need to understand the situation and if you do, you'll realize every situation is different, but you'll know the criteria as to when you can begin removing it.

          I am also constantly asked how long it takes for every possible activity and again it depends upon the situation!  Does it really matter how long it takes?  It will really depend upon your growing situation so it really depends on you.  Too often some customers want to grow their bonsai in very low light and are disappointed to learn that's why their trees don't develop!  Some seemed truly surprised when I tell they that plants don't grow well in caves!  But I think they know this and just trying to see if I'll pity them.  I don't.  I try to help but each person really determines whether they will be successful or not.  I think that those that have joined the study groups really want to be successful and are working at it. They really are a joy to work with! 

          Most people automatically assume they know plants but they don't.  They refuse to follow my instructions and automatically invent their own methods because they just don't believe me or think they know better.  So they "invent a cure for a problem that does not exist!"  They think the tree is dying when it wilts a bit, greatly increase the watering, and kill plants by over-watering. Others quickly place a tree that wilts a little into a terrarium-like humidity chamber that pampers and produces a weak tree that must continually be babied!

          In just the two years since we started the 1:10 Project,  I have not killed any trees!  But it may be a good time to explain why.  Fuku-Bonsai uses proprietary techniques that produces drought-resistant plants.  It's really common sense.  We grow plants in shade and full sun at different times as part of our cultural practices.  In Kurtistown, we may get 175" of rain annually so our potting media is extremely fast-draining  or the plants would rot.  But we grow the plants in full sun on roof iron benches in small shallow containers.  We get dry spells too and the plants wilt.  But they often do not get watered and some die.  That's how we get rid of plants that are always thirsty!

         You should know that plants that are primarily fed a high-nitrogen fertilizer are always thirsty and must be watered before they dry out. This is especially true if you are using water-soluble nitrogen and phosphorus. We don't.  We use Nutrient Granules™ that are low nitrogen / high phosphorous that are not water-soluble.

         We supply a complimentary packet with each plant we sell.  And of course we only ship plants that have survived our "drought-resistant" culling system!  So please don't baby our plants!  Contact me if you think you have problems and include a photograph.  I'll try to help!  Regards,  ~~~David

*** Return to the September issue of Journal of Tropical & True Indoor Bonsai
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         © Mid-Pacific Bonsai Foundation & Fuku-Bonsai, 2013