Bonsai training requires a healthy tree growing strongly. Do not ever train a tree that is growing poorly. Training puts stress on a tree and a weak tree may die. When you prune a weak tree, if the tree does not die-back, only one new growth point may replace the growth point pruned off. But if a tree is growing strongly, several new growth points will replace each original growth point. By cutting back the tree, you'll have a compact, proportionally stouter tree with a complex structure. By keeping new growth that promise to grow in the desirable direction and removing the remainder, you'll guide the tree into your preferred shape.
Our popular HS-8 small size Dwarf Schefflera Lava Rock Planting is ideal starter stock for those wanting to grow indoor bonsai. It meets the two basic rules for selecting indoor bonsai starter stock: 1) It is a proven house plant. And, 2) It already has some "character," branches, and established surface and/or aerial roots. By planting it into an 8"diameter x 2" deep pot, you'll enlarge the root system and get much stronger growth needed for successful bonsai training. How long will it take? It depends upon the situation! With good horticultural skills and good growing conditions, a tree will grow quickly with heavier growth.
RULE #3: "FOR OPTIMUM GROWTH, CREATE THE BEST POSSIBLE ENVIRONMENT!"
OPTIMUM CONDITIONS: 70°F-90°F; bright semi-shade, high humidity. In colder climates, there will be faster growth and development when the plant is grown outdoors when night temperatures exceed 55°F. But it is necessary to acclimate the plant in stages. A plant grown indoors will have thinner, larger leaves. If suddenly exposed to full sun or stronger light, the leaves will burn. It may require 2-3 months to acclimate the plant to full sun. A plant going back indoors after a summer outside should also be acclimated to lower light. Our customers report best success and easy acclimation when plants are kept in a bright, indirect light, shaded area when outdoors. In general, the more light the faster the growth rate and the more fertilizer that can be given.
HUMIDITY is the key to aerial roots and best tropical growth. Spray an aluminum cookie sheet with an attractive color. Fill with clean gravel or small pea-size pebbles, and keep water below the top of the gravel. A plant placed on this gravel will have area humidity even with air-conditioning or heating. Add water to the gravel periodically, and continue to water the potted plants with the full saturation method.
POTTING THE HS-8 DWARF SCHEFFLERA LAVA PLANTING
A tree with an enlarged root system will grow more vigorously. Because the Dwarf Schefflera is already established in the rock, the transition to stronger growth will likely be successful. BE SURE TO SATURATE BOTH THE MEDIA IN THE POT AND THE ROCK BY KEEPING IT IN WATER FOR AT LEAST 30 MINUTES! (Sketch by Fuku-Bonsai nursery manager Cliff Tanaka)
1. PREPARE THE TIE-DOWN STRINGS. The Fuku-Bonsai 8" diameter plastic bonsai pot has 3 holes. A piece of tie was cut in half and a knot in the middle forms an "X." From the bottom, place two ends through one hole from the bottom and send each of the other two ends through the other two holes.
2. THE DRAINAGE LAYER. Pull the string ends taut and draped over the sides of the pot, place the pre-measured coarse lava pumice in the center of the pot. With a larger spoon gently tap the mound smooth to reduce the amount of space between the pieces and loosely fill up the pot with the finer body media to about even with the inner rim of the pot.
3. TYING DOWN THE ROCK PLANTING. Position the rock planting slightly off-center and rotate until you have an attractive position. Then press the planting into the loose media. Using one pair of ends, tie down the rock planting on one side, then the other. The rock planting should be secured firmly. If not, pass a loose end under the other tie; pull taut to take up any slack, and knot. Repeat if necessary. The ties will insure that the planting will not shake. Ties can be removed when the roots are established in the media. With the spoon firm down the surface of the visible media which should have sunk down about 1/4" below the pot's inner rim.
4. THE INITIAL WATERING. Fill a pan with about 2" of water and allow the newly potted plant to sit in the water for 30 minutes or so. This will allow all parts of the media to become totally saturated. Allow the plant to drain, then give the surface a finishing leveling by gently patting with a spoon.
5. DEVELOPING A WATERING ROUTINE. Watering potted Living Sculpture is best done by the same saturation method. The water pushes out all air from the porous media and replaces it with water. New air rushes in as excess water drains out. This repetitive sequence of total water saturation and air exchanges is the ideal condition for healthy root and plant growth. Watering from the top does not wet all parts of the root-ball thoroughly. Proper watering is the key to success! Dwarf Schefflera likes to be kept slightly moist. Place your palm on the surface of the media. If it feels wet, don't water. Water when it feels slightly cool. Don't allow it to completely dry out! You can also judge the amount of water in the container by the weight as a recently watered plant is noticeably heavier.
6. ENCOURAGING OPTIMUM GROWTH! Trees can be trained only if they are healthy and growing vigorously. Trees growing strongly have large leaves, but encourage trees to "over-grow" before pruning back. This type of accelerated growth under ideal growing conditions followed by drastic pruning is the reason Fuku-Bonsai's plants have such impressive trunks and strong rootage. If you want larger trees, use a larger pot, allow to over-grow, and prune back more conservatively.
The above information was developed for those who purchase our HS-8 Small size Dwarf Schefflera Lava Planting and a #8 Conversion Kit which includes an 8" diameter x 2" deep round plastic bonsai pot, pre-screen bottom media, Fuku-Bonsai finer body media (including screened lava pumice, peat moss, slow release fertilizer, etc.), and a 9" diameter saucer. Because of the larger root system, potted lava plantings or KEIKI BONSAI will grow more vigorously for faster development.
(Photo received August 12, 2001)
A while back, Richard Serrano, who makes his "home base" in Huntington Beach, California called. He is always on the road with his wife, dog, and Fuku-Bonsai HD-1(S&G).
They purchased the plant about 1988. It was getting a bit rangy, and he asked for my advice. I could not believe one of our plants travels more than most people, has survived UV windows, the vibration of extensive travel, changing climates, different water, etc. I asked him to send a photo to post on this website and he did.
For difficult situations or when it's not possible to provide optimum growing conditions, a plant will have improved growth when potted to develop a stronger root system and I recommended a #8 Conversion Kit.
FOR MORE INFORMATION: See Successful Bonsai Training, Basic Concepts for Success, and Growing Tips.