Location: Indoors and near window. Can go outside when temps are between 40+
Loves to be on wet side.
Serissa foetida derives its name from the fetid smell of its bark and roots when they are crushed or cut. Foetida is literally 'foul-smelling' in Latin. (It should be noted that S.foetida is sometimes referred to by its old Latin name Serissa Japonica).
Serissa is a genus of only one species (foetida), a small evergreen shrub up to only 50cm in height, from moist, open woodland in S.E. Asia. Its leaves are borne in opposite pairs and branches are produced in dense numbers from both old and new wood giving the tree good potential for bonsai cultivation. Serissa produce numerous small funnel shaped flowers during the summer (and at other times of the year in alien environments) hence its common name 'Tree of a thousand stars'.
There are now quite a variety of forms of S. foetida in cultivation that carry variegated leaves with single or double flowers.
Though very commonly found for sale at bonsai establishments throughout Britain and Europe, the Serissa is notorious for being hard to keep for both experienced hobbyists and beginners alike. The Serissa has a tendency to yellowing and dropping leaves if correct growing conditions are not kept.
Being a subtropical species Serissa have to be protected from temperatures below 7°C which means indoor cultivation is required in most areas of Europe and America for a good proportion of the year. However, here lies the heart of the problem with this species; it is difficult to keep up the humidity levels required by Serissa in an indoor environment and this often causes the tree to suffer.