In the May issue we began a major updating of our shallow pot 1:10 Project (see www.fukubonsai.com/1a6q.html. I did not complete the article as I recognized that we had stumbled upon a possible breakthrough in both leaf reduction and effectively creating smaller bonsai. This was introduced as Mini-Bonsai in the July 2014 issue of Journal of Tropical & True Indoor Bonsai (see www.fukubonsai.com/4a25.html) and several of our Fast-Track Study Group members have since begun trials. This in turn has also begun trials to create a second major potting strategy that is superior for mini-bonsai as well as whenever your potting strategy creates contoured surfaces in shallow pots or above the level of the rim of the pot.
In the May article, we barerooted the Premium Prepared Bonsai Stock in 2" pots and wired them onto octagon plexiglass with holes drilled through them and set them onto gravel in cut-down 4" pots to provide more moisture. The plants were placed in full sun outdoors.
In just three months, the trees developed more growth points and leaf size greatly reduced. This photo shows two of the four trial plants with one sitting on gravel in the cut-down 4" pot with the other one removed and sitting on the plexiglass octagon with a small hand-thrown ceramic bonsai pot received as a gift. The pot is just 2.25" in diameter and 1/2" high including the legs.
The potting material below the actual trunk base and surface roots was removed, the foliage top was reduced, and the tie down X-wires were positioned.
Our standard body mix was rescreened and what went through the 1/4" screen and caught in the 1/8" screen was the coarse bottom. What went through the 1/8" screen and caught in the 1/6" screen was the body mix. What went through the 1/16" screen including dust was the final top dressing to encourage growth of hair roots under the foil collar. A generous amount of Nutrient Granules went on to the coarse bottom.
Here's how the tree looked when first potted. Because the tree was properly grown and previously root-pruned just three months before, it was no problem potting it into the small pot. As shown in the photo, the foliage is about 3" higher than the rim of the pot.
This photo and the top photo gives you a better idea of how quickly it is possible to get a nice mini-bonsai from our Premium Prepared Bonsai Stock! Assuming you can give the tree a lot of light and the appropriate amount of water, it should be very satisfying to grow mini True Indoor Bonsai! While these small pots are not easy to find, they are available and a whole lot less costly than larger bonsai pots! An entire varied collection of mini-bonsai will fit on a cookie sheet in your brightest window to provide a lot of bonsai hobby enjoyment!
This final photo (from a slightly different angle) shows the plant with the full heavy aluminum foil apron. Before final compressing fine top dressing was inserted between the plant and foil apron to encourage fine root hairs to develop and to hold the gravelly media in place. This will take about 3 to 6 months. Note that many air holes were made with an ice-pick like sharp tool with the holes facing down and all over the foil about 1/4" apart. If a lot of organic material is used and there are no air holes, the roots will rot.
|FINAL COMMENTS BY DAVID
For a few hours after taking the photos, I thought it was a nice ending to a series of bonsai that were trained progressively smaller with the leaves steadily reducing. At Fuku-Bonsai our standard practice while setting the styling is to consider the "One-branch Style" as an option. In other words, can this be a nice bonsai with everything above the lowest branch removed?
In this case, with so many still lower branches, the answer was "YES!" So the actual tree is now about half the size of the last photo and I'll continue this story and include photos when the tree leafs out! Stay tuned!
Mini-Bonsai also may have applications in Mini Root-Over-Rock Bonsai and/or saikei and/or complex landscaping if mini-bonsai with extended roots are pre-trained. A few of us are working on such plants so there will be more interesting reports in the future.
You're invited to join us by first becoming a member of the Beginner Study Group. If you can complete and "graduate," you'll be invited to join our Fast-Track Study Group to receive a lot of personal assistance and support and an opportunity to play a significant role as Fuku-Bonsai assists and supplies future generations on a national basis. Please request more information if interested.