MAIL-BAG #6:    June 2013

              The Mail-Bag is a catch-all feature to include news,  tips, notices, and odds and ends. This month there's news of Fuku-Bonsai Center improvements as well as our bonsai activities in the greater international bonsai community. 



NAKA GOES HAWAIIAN! PART III by David Fukumoto (Hawaii)
              In the late 1970's four high-potential trees were collected and the late great John Naka honored us when he led the training of three extraordinary Hawaiian Christmas Berry trees first in Hilo in 1984, and again at the International Bonsai Congress in Honolulu, Hawaii in 1990. Then, Hawaii had just begun to collect these trees and it was a learning experience for all of us.  The two initial major public training sessions were covered in "Part I: 1984," and "Part II: 1990." 
               Between his training sessions and since, the trees are part of the the Hawaii State Bonsai Repository at the Fuku-Bonsai Cultural Center.  In the 23 years since John last worked on the trees,  they have evolved and developed in unexpected ways although we stayed as close as possible to the long-term development plan that he established.
               Faster growth requires adjustments by those who are used to growing slower developing temperate climate bonsai and the latest article will provide valuable updated information for those who aspire to train collected tropical bonsai.  The first of a three-part series of articles was published in Bonsai Clubs International's BONSAI & STONE APPRECIATION magazine's April-May-June 2013 issue.   Articles about the other two trees will follow.

            We have been associated with BCI for many years and BCI and the Fukumotos recently celebrated 50 year of bonsai and we were featured.   In the 1970's to 1990's, Hawaii played a major role in creating International Bonsai that we enjoy today and BCI has taken the lead in covering significant international bonsai news and development.  A BCI 1-year (US) membership is $45 and includes 4 issues.  BCI Magazine is also available in digital format on the BCI website at a special discount email membership of $19.00. For more information, please contact BCI Business Manager Carole Roske at or call 400-871-4797. 


                 Those who have visited Fuku-Bonsai a number of times don't notice it any more, but first time visitors are shocked to find us at the end of a gravel road with large potholes that appear to be impassable during rainy seasons.  Visitors have been known to not take the risk, turn around, and cancel their visit. We moved here in 1973 at a time when most of the area was in sugar cane and the sugar company scraped and graded the cane haul roads every two years just before they began harvesting the area.  That worked fine as we were the only ones who lived on this road and Fuku-Bonsai initially was not open to visitors.
                 In 1996, two years after closing the Kona Fuku-Bonsai Center,  the Kurtistown center opened to visitors who assisted us in rebuilding and reinventing the company.  They wanted to learn and we developed potted bonsai and bonsai workshops and we ended up in all of the Big Island travel guides.  May remarked that we really are:  "off the beaten trail,"  "part of unknown Hawaii,"  and "part of the spirit of Hawaii!".  Many learned of us from our Big Island Authorized Retailers who distribute our rack cards and our Big Island Promotional Partners.  As we reestablished ties in the Kurtistown community,  they learned of our battle for survival and provided steady support towards improving our access.
                 As visitors known,  things move slowly on the Big Island and several years ago,  Olaa Road was slightly widened and paved.  Now 17 years after opening the Kurtistown Fuku-Bonsai Cultural Center and Hawaii State Bonsai Repository,  our access road has reached the top of Hawaii County's "To-Do" list and work has begun.  We hope to have a report in the next Journal issue and thank those who contacted our elected officials to steadily moved us up that list!  Mahalo!

             RON KALT REPORTS FIRST AERIAL ROOTS DEVELOPING!   Ron's story appeared in the April 2013 Journal issue:  RON KALT'S ROOTS TO RAINFOREST BANYAN CONVERSION  of his repotting an 8LS8-Roots into a #17 Conversion Kit and efforts to develop aerial roots.  In an email on June 9, 2013, he sent this photo of his first success.  The challenge is to now extend it to the ground and Ron will be taking notes and make further reports in the future.  The goal is to get as many as possible so you can choose the ones in the ideal locations! Stay tuned!



             RECOMMENDED FIRST AID FOR A PLANT THAT IS DRYING UP!  We are not sure what is happening.  The plant has green leaves but the trunk is severely dehydrated with tiny vertical creases.  Even the roots are shriveling up!  Owner claims it is watered weekly by soaking for thirty minutes, drain, and placed on dry gravel in the display dish!  SO WHAT'S HAPPENING?  My recommendation was to place a bowl of water into a polybag and place the rock planting in the water, blow up the polybag like a balloon, tie the top so bag will not collapse onto the plant and tie it to something above.  Keep in warm place with bright but indirect light.  Check in 3-4 days if the plant's trunk and branches have rehydrated.  Keeping it in the polybag will increase the humidity to take the load of the roots and hopefully there's enough surviving roots to rehydrate the plant.   In the past, we intentionally dried out plants and it took us over a month of no watering at all in Kurtistown to get this type of dehydration.  After 4 days of soaking in a bowl, most leaves dropped off but plant fully recovered when placed back on: "water once per week for 30 minutes,  drain until it almost stops dripping, and place in on DRY gravel."  Request everyone to check their plants and if yours have similar creases, please email me at  


    *** Return to the June issue of Journal of Tropical & True Indoor Bonsai
    *** Go to Mid-Pacific Bonsai Foundation website
    *** Go to Fuku-Bonsai website
                     Mid-Pacific Bonsai Foundation and Fuku-Bonsai, 2013