Kathy first obtained a HS8 small Dwarf Schefflera with a Monkeypod bowl from our exclusive Maui representative Dan's Green House of Lahaina in 2002 and in the 12 years since, three bowls rotted. Her first report in 2002 is posted at www.fukubonsai.com/4c3b.html,  her second report was in 2006 after the Alamedas had visited Fuku-Bonsai and moved to Lincoln, California is posted at www.fukubonsai.com/4c3b1.html.

              Her third report from  April to June 2014 is of combating a mold problem, making a major switch in the way she waters, and includes a 2-month report of her new glass display bowl and watering method with report posted at www.fukubonsai.com/4c3b2.html in the July issue of the Journal of Tropical and True Indoor Bonsai. This 12-year long report chain is the longest on our website and shows how durable Dwarf Scheff is even though Kathy was over-watering for almost 11 years! 

               On September 4, 2014 I received the following email:

         Aloha David,   I'm back from playing Grandma and my world travels and I tackled the pruning of my bonsai.  I documented the process by taking a bunch of photos, you can pick and choose which photos you want to use.  I will send the photos in 3 different emails so our computers won't crash.  I have also included a picture of me with the bonsai per your request.  Could you please take a look and answer these questions for me?

  1. Did I cut it back enough?  If not, could you place an arrow on the photos to show me where to cut back more?
  2. I reviewed your recommendations for the root structure but... Should I cut the large roots all at the same time, or one large root each time I prune?
  3. Could you please place arrows on the major roots that I should cut?  I was way too scared to cut the major roots without specific cut locations.
  4. I would like to remove a couple of the lower leaves because they are just hanging down too far and the tips are brown (I have marked the ones I want to remove unless you tell me differently).
    • The overall measurements before pruning:  24"L x 15"D x 15"H
    • The first cut I removed 6 leaves, the second cut had 5 leaves, and the third cut also had 5 leaves for a total of 16 leaves that were removed.  I applied Vaseline to the cuts to protect it.
    • The overall measurements after pruning:  15"L x 13"D x 10"H
    • Watering:  I have always used 4-8 drops of Schultz Liquid Plant Food in a gallon of distilled water

            Take care!  Aloha,   Kathy

                 While just three months since the last report,  the tree seems to have adapted to the once per week soaking and placing it on dry gravel in the new glass bowl.  So it was time to prune.


    Before and after from one viewing position


      Before and after from another viewing position


       Before and after with the roots spread out.  Her cuts are fine and by separating the roots, Kathy will be able to get the roots crossing and forming a mat of roots UNDER the rock.  Once it's established,  outer roots can be trimmed each month with very little danger. Trim off the most vigorous growth tip and/or a few oldest leaves at the same time to keep the plant neat. A light trimming more often is a good alternative to only radical pruning every few years.


      Three cuts removing 16 leaves and 9" of shortened roots. 


                 Kathy's selection of a new display container will influence the preferred size and it's nice now. Up to this point, it was in a "growing-on" stage to develop more bulk and character to be the right size for the container --- and now it is. So it is time to switch to a "refinement or maintenance" stage to more or less keep it at the preferred size.  So switch to only pruning the section that is growing strongest and throws out large leaves as it grows out 7-8 leaves --- then cut back that branch to where you want to start it again --- even below the previous cut to shorten the plant a bit.  Then another section will grow more vigorously and you cut back that branch to optimum position. This continues forever and your tree changes a bit but remains reasonable at the same size, can be made to be a bit smaller,  or allowed to enlarge a bit.  Older leaves can be removed at any time.

              Kathy has had the tree for 12 years and small size lava plantings are usually 3 to 5 years when sold.  So the tree is between 15 to 17 years old and is still growing vigorously with Kathy's fertilizing system of 4-8 drops of Schultz Liquid Plant Food in a gallon of distilled water.  Keeping the rock wet likely caused the earlier mold but with the weekly saturation and drying out, the mold seems to be going away.  That glass bowl is working out nicely and at this point,  the plant is likely healthy enough to remove any leaf that aren't attractive.  When plants are thinned out like this it's possible to appreciate the interesting trunk and branch structure and leaves are a bit more compact even in lower light. 

             Hope you cut off all leaves from your cuttings (except the newest end leaf) and root the cuttings.  I like to root it in potting media with some sphagum moss wrapped around the end with the cutting kept moist.  But some prefer to put it into a bowl with a 1/2" of water and pot it when roots emerge.  You've done a good job and your tree should bring joy for many more years. 

             With the Journal going to past customers and gift recipients, I'd like to hear from more who have had our trees for many years as there are a lot of really interesting stories including at least another in this issue!  Regards and mahalo!  ~~~David  (david.f@fukubonsai.com)  

***  Return to the October 2014 issue of the Journal of Tropical and True Indoor Bonsai
***  Go to the Mid-Pacific Bonsai Foundation website
***  Go to the Fuku-Bonsai website
          Mid-Pacific Bonsai Foundation and Fuku-Bonsai, 2014