Shohin Ficus Bonsai

Ficus thrives in our hot Texas Zone 9 weather. I have several large Ficus microcarpa, whenever I removed a thick branch, I tried to root it. Over the years, I have obtained a number of second generation ficus, some grew into large trees, some were trained as shohin in different styles: banyan, informal, sumo-style shohin and Lingnan penjing.

I recently defoliated some shohin and wired their main structures, they looked naked but some had put out new buds and leaflets.

A banyan style shohin:


Sumo-style shohin:

I am developing a new leader for this shohin.

In the US, a lot of people like short and fat shohin, the so-called “sumo” style. Some may say that is not how a ficus tree grows in nature, but it is fun to style them differently instead of all in their “natural” shapes.

Continue reading

One-Year Progression of A Shohin Chinzan Satsuki Azalea Bonsai

The purpose of this post is to show how to care for and maintain an imported satsuki azalea during the first year by selective pruning, encourage back budding and developing ramification of the branches.

I purchased this shohin “chinzan” satsuki azalea pre-bonsai from David Kreutz of the Satsuki Bonsai-En in April, 2014, at our state bonsai convention. This satsuki was imported, bare-rooted, from Japan about 3-4 months ago. It has a beautiful nebari and trunk taper. Since it was a newly imported tree, I removed the flower buds and let it gained strength for the rest of the year.

Front of the tree, 02/25/2015.
Continue reading

Preparing A Small Bonsai Display For Show

Last weekend, we had our Lone Star (Texas) State Bonsai Federation education seminar, and the topic was literati bonsai. All participating trees must be a bunjin. My wife and I exhibited a small, 24″ x 18″, Japanese toko-kazari display.

Display consisted of a mame bujin Chinese Elm grown from root cutting, a dwarf Fiber Optic grass, a distant mountain viewing stone and a two-line poem.

Many attendees liked the display and commented how simple it looks, refreshing, quiet, peaceful, cute, and the lightly finished wood allows viewers to see all the elements clearly.

I will explain how we came up with the idea, why we selected the items and why we arranged them this way. The thoughts put into the process was a great exercise.

The Literati Theme Concept

Continue reading

Kusamono, Jasmine and Kitchen-Scrap Bonsai

My wife is an avid gardener. She tends to away from bonsai (most of the time). To quote her words: “I let my husband works on big trees, I stick to the small stuffs like kusamono and anything palm-size.” Here are some of her small stuffs:


She might not call this flowering jasmine a bonsai, but to me it is a bunjin shohin. The fragrance filled our kitchen when she brought it indoors.

This cabbage is a kitchen left-over. After stripping off all the leaves for food, she planted the stem in a cup filled with expanded shale and water. It rooted and grew into a small cabbage ball with curly leaves. Eventually the regrown cabbage will be eaten, and perhaps the stem will be regrown. She has other kitchen left overs, such as potato eye, yam, onion etc., grown into what I called, kitchen-scrap bonsai.

Continue reading

Satsuki Azalea Flowers

In Southeastern Texas, satsuki azaleas bloom about a month earlier than in other parts of the US, from April to May. All my satsuki have flowered, and flowers of some cultivars were already gone. Some late bloomers, such as Chinzan, Nikko and Wakaebisu are still in flowers but they are definitely past their peaks. I will remove all flowers and unopened flower buds next week, and fertilize generously to thank them for brightening up my garden. I like to share photos of those flowers I took over the last few weeks.

Chinzan, Osakazuki and Wakaebisu. Flowers in some trees are already gone in mid-May.
Hakurei. I like their small white flowers with laceolate petals.
Continue reading

Satsuki Azalea Bonsai

These two mid-size “wakaebisu” and “chinzan” satsuki azaleas were grown from nursery plants for over 10 years. They spent their first 6-8 years in flower bed to thicken the trunks and were trained into bonsai. A photographer friend took the two photos when they were in full blooms at our bonsai show last May. The photos below them were taken a few days ago. They have not yet flowered, but in about one to two weeks they would suddenly be covered with flowers.

Houston Chinese Bonsai Society Show 2014-1
“Wakaebisu” satsuki azalea with  ‘hose-in-hose’ salmon color flowers in May, 2014. Height: 13″
Same tree, April 2015, no flowers yet, lots of buds and new leaves.
Houston Chinese Bonsai Society Show 2014-2
“Chinzan” satsuki azalea, May, 2014.  Height: 12″.
The same “Chinzan”, April 2015, waiting for the flowers to come out.
Mame “Chinzan”, styled from a nursery gallon plant. Height: 4″.
Multi-trunk shohin “chinzan” from 3 gallon nursery plant. Height: 8″.

After the Rain

Spring has just begun and we already have more than our normal share of rainfall. In fact it had been raining for the last five days; I had to stay indoor and could only worked on shohin and mame in the kitchen. This afternoon the rain tapered off into light drizzle, I went out to examine my bonsai and took some photos of deciduous trees which had budded and sprouted young tender leaves in various shades of yellow green and purplish red colors.

Here are some of the photos:

Chinese Elm, Ulmus parvifolia.


Buds on the leader of a mame Chinese elm


This mame Chinese elm was potted two three weeks ago and was heavily pruned. New buds and leaves had just appeared.


A shohin Chinese elm with newly sprouted soft yellow green leaves.


This large Chinese elm is almost full with leaves.

Continue reading