Fukien Tea (Carmona microphylla)
Originating in southeast China, the Fukien Tea is an evergreen tree named after the province of Fuijan. The leaves on this tree are small, shiny, and dark green, covered with tiny hairs. Together, the leaves form a dense and compact appearance. As a young tree, the Fukien Tea has light brown bark that begins to crack with age. Then in the early summer months, this bonsai produces beautiful but miniature flowers, which then turn to tiny black berries.
Keep in mind that the Fukien Tea is not tolerate with temperate regions. Therefore, it would need to be grown indoors as a bonsai all year round. Unfortunately, the Fukien Tea is both difficult to find and to grow. However, for bonsai enthusiasts who enjoy a challenge, this would make an interesting and beautiful choice.
The Fukien Tea tree needs good, direct sunlight with about one hour of outdoor sun daily. For this, we recommend only morning or late afternoon sun when the rays are not as harsh. Temperatures for the Fukien Tea should be maintained between 59 and 77 degrees. Now, if you take the Fukien Tea outdoors in the hot summer, you want to be very careful how you bring it back inside. We suggest you place it first on the deck or patio where temperatures are somewhat cooler, and then indoors to avoid shocking the tree. The Fukien Tea also needs humidity, which can easily be provided using a humidity tray..
You will want to feed this tree every other week from spring to fall, and then in the winter, monthly. Because the Fukien Tea has such dense foliage, you can prune it in the desired shape without having to use a wiring technique. However, as long as the tree is healthy, you can perform a hard pruning at any time. To propagate the Fukien Tea, you want to sow seeds outdoors when ripe and in the summer, you can use softwood cuttings.
The Fukien Tea is virtually trouble free from insects and disease. The only thing you might notice is the color of the leaves turning yellow when the soil gets too much water. For repotting, keep in mind that most Fukien Tea comes from China in clay. Therefore, this causes compacting, meaning the tree would need to be replaced with a basic bonsai soil mix. The key here is to replace the clay with soil gradually, avoiding unwanted stress. We recommend the bonsai be repotted every two years in the spring as you see new growth. Finally, you can use literally any style of the Fukien Tea, regardless of size.
Light - This particular ficus bonsai likes to be placed in bright indirect light. In the winter place your Ficus in a bright east, south or west window. Your plant should receive anywhere between 4 to 6 hours of indirect sunlight (less wont kill it, it just prefers this amount).
Watering - If you mist this particular ficus bonsai twice daily, then your ficus will reward you with aerial roots dropping beautifully from the branches. Other than aiding your ficus with aerial roots, the watering guidelines here are pretty self-explanatory…water when the soil appears dry! Be sure not to let the soil fully dry out. Water slowly and thoroughly, pouring the water over the soil not to disturb it, until the water runs out of the holes in the bottom of your pot.
Temperature - Try to maintain a temperature between 60 to 70 degrees F. Make sure that your ficus retusa bonsai is kept away from drafts (hot and cold) and never put it outside when the temperature drops below 40 degrees F.
Fertilize - Your ficus bonsai tree does not have a lot of soil in its pot, so it needs your help for nutrition. I prefer to Fertilize with an organic or all purpose fertilizer every other week with half of the recommended strength, and during the winter I withhold fertilizer.
Prune - To prevent die back, prune only when the tree is actively growing. Trim back the new growth to the desired size; but be aware that your plant needs some of the new growth to survive.
Re-Potting - Ficus retusa likes to be repotted in the hottest part of summer. The tree is not particular in what type of soil it is potted as long as it is a well draining mix.
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