- Author: Susan Flaherty
On a recent trip to Hawaii I discovered a bonsai nursery that was off- the- beaten path, not a tourist destination, and free. The Fuku-Bonsai cultural center and Hawaii state repository has been in business since 1962 but unfortunately lost $30 million dollars' worth of plants in 1989 due to spraying with a defective fungicide. In bonsai years this was not so long ago! They now have just a few thousand plants and specialize in growing the dwarf schefflera indoor bonsai. They also participate in research projects and give workshops in bonsai techniques.
I have personally killed two outdoor bonsai in the past. I suspect the extreme temperatures and dry air were factors. It wasn't neglect because I gave them a lot of attention!
The goal of this type of bonsai is to create a plant with lush growth, a leafy canopy, and aerial roots so the structure creates a banyan, the symbol of tropical paradise. These nursery plants are grown over lava rock and are not wired. At workshops the three basic training strategies are taught.
I jokingly asked the manager that if I could volunteer for a week would he teach me all knew. He said “Yes, I would love too.” I am seriously considering it. He has two Master Gardeners from UC Hawaii that come almost every week to learn from him now. If you are interested in a field trip let me know!
If you are on a visit to the big island, drop by to see the nursery if you like bonsai. (Plants are certified and may be shipped to any US state or brought home in carry-on luggage.) If you cannot visit the nursery, they are online at www.fukubonsai.com.