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Oriental Tea Tree

Updated: Apr 4, 2020

Carmona microphylla

A Native of India, South East Asia and Southern China the Carmona microphylla, is a small tree, with five-petaled, small, star-shaped white flowers and flaky gnarly bark. In temperate regions, they are grown as indoor bonsai. They are also commonly known as Fukien Tea Trees.

Fukien Tea Bonsai, Carmono microphylla
Fukien Tea Bonsai, Carmono microphylla

Styles & Sizes: They create medium to large bonsai in most styles.

Position: Need a lot of light and humidity so situate in a bright spot but avoid exposing to direct midday sunlight if possible, if required provided addition artificial lighting. Use a humidity tray to provide the high levels of humidity it needs, and ensure temperatures are above 15°C. Ensure there are not-too-much temperature fluctuations.

Watering: Keep soil moist but not waterlogged. Overwatering can lead to leaves turning yellow and falling off.

Feeding: Every two weeks during the growing season and every 6 weeks during dormant periods. Use a balanced organic fertiliser throughout the year and use and an additional dose or two of high nitrogen fertiliser in spring to help with the flush of new growth.

Repotting: Repot every 2 years in late spring when the warmer weather is well settled in. Use a rich well-draining soil 1 part peat or loam, 1 part grit or sharp sand, 1 part leaf mould or bark.

Fukien Tea Bonsai, Carmono microphylla
Fukien Tea Flower, Carmono microphylla

Pruning: Best time to prune is between late winter and early spring before new growth starts, this ensures that new growth is left on for flowering. Cut back fully extended shoots to leave 3 active leaf nodes.

Wiring: Best wired in autumn when the bonsai is dormant. If wiring at other times of the year carry out regular checks for scaring.

Notes: The Fukien Tea is a finicky tree and challenging bonsai when grown indoors in temperate regions. It does not like sudden changes in temperature or draughty areas. It complains if over or under watered and is quite susceptible to pests.

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