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
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.
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
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.