chinese perfume plant

Chinese Perfume Plant (Aglaia odorata) Bonsai: How To Grow and Care

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A tiny evergreen tree, the Chinese perfume tree, or Aglaia odorata, has the potential to grow up to 10 feet tall. However, it usually stays much smaller than this and is often grown as a bonsai tree for this very reason.

Not only that, but the Chinese perfume tree is highly desired for its ability to produce blossoms that are heavily fragranced with aromas of sweet, tantalizing lemon. 

If you’re ready to grow this beautiful plant in your bonsai collection, you will want to follow these tips for the best success.

Interesting Facts about Chinese Perfume Plant Bonsai

Height4 feet maximum (much smaller as bonsai)
Width2.5 inches
SunlightFull to partial sunlight
Flowering Time LengthSeveral times per year
Lifespan10+ years
Scientific nameAglaia odorata

Types of Aglaia Odorata

Aglaia odorata is a species of plant in the Meliaceae family. Native to China, Cambodia, Myanmar, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, and Taiwan, this plant is commonly sold as a houseplant or bonsai specimen in the United States. 

It is the only plant in this group that is raised as a bonsai specimen. However, it’s important to note that it has multiple other uses beyond its value as a bonsai container plant. 

Not only can you boil the roots of the plant with water to increase your appetite and cure mouth ulcers, but the dried flowers can be used to make perfume. This plan can even be used as a natural herbicide!

It is known by several other names, including Chinese Fisheye Jasmine, Mock Lemon, Mei Sui Lan, Chu Lan Tree, and the Chinese Rice Plant.

Growing Chinese Perfume Plant Bonsai from Seed or By Propagation

Chinese perfume plants can be grown from a cutting or by using the air layering method. It’s usually not recommended that you try to grow this plant from seed, since the offspring don’t usually remain true to the parent plant. 

How To Care for Chinese Perfume Plant  Bonsai

Sunlight

The best place to position your Chinese perfume plant is outdoors, in either full or partial sunlight during summer and spring months. However, when temperatures drop below 50 degrees, you will need to bring this plant inside and put it on your windowsill or a table near a windowsill. 

In the winter, you may find that your tree will go semi-dormant. In fact, many experts recommend positioning it on a northern windowsill where it will get only partial sunlight during the winter months, which will allow the dormancy process to happen so the plant can rest. It will need to be kept cool (50 to 55 degrees) during this time.

Watering

You need to water your bonsai plant often. It should be watered before the soil appears to be getting dry. Use a moisture meter until you figure out the exact requirements of your specific tree (which can vary depending on the conditions inside your home).

When you do water, do so liberally. Apply water until it starts to run out of the holes in the bottom of the pot. 

You may also want to provide extra humidity in the form of a shallow tray with a layer of gravel. This will provide moisture around the tree as the water evaporates. 

Fertilizing

If you want your Chinese perfume plant to remain healthy, you will need to fertilize it regularly. Replenish nutrients with liquid fertilizer, which you can buy at most gardening stores. Use the fertilizer at half of its recommended strength, as the Chinese perfume plant can be a bit delicate. You can apply fertilizer once a month (except during the winter). 

You should also feed the foliage of your plant with a foliar spray consisting of water-soluble fertilizer. This can be applied every other month.

Potting and Repotting 

Chinese perfume plant bonsai will need to be repotted on a regular basis. This can be done when the root system of the plant has filled the pot and will supply the plant with fresh soil. It will also encourage a more compact root system. You can report every two or three years. 

When you do this, remove both the plant along with all of its soil, from the pot. Remove the bottom quarter of the root mass of the tree and work fresh soil around the root mass to prevent air pockets. 

Pruning a Chinese Perfume Plant Bonsai

Prune your plant on a regular basis to keep your plant small and in its miniature form. All you need to do is trim back new growth to the farthest point you can without damaging new growth – you should never remove all of the new growth in its entirety but instead allow a bit to remain to sustain the tree. You can do this throughout the year, basing your frequency on the tree’s rate of growth. 

Pests and Diseases

This plant is rarely affected by any pests, as its heavy aroma repels pests all on its own. It is also naturally disease-resistant.

However, you may find that the Chinese perfume plant does, on occasion, suffer from issues like mealybugs or scale. These problems typically arise in plants that are grown in overcrowded or over watered conditions.

Where to Buy Chinese Perfume Plant Bonsai

You can purchase the Chinese perfume plant from many gardening supply stores, but it’s often best purchased from a specialty store that specializes in these sorts of bonsai plants.

Chinese perfume plant is a species that is listed as “near threatened,” which means it can be difficult to find in some locations. Buy from a reputable retailer, and you can rest assured that you will receive a high-quality plant with good levels of hardiness and disease-resistance. 

*Photo by Arayabandit/depositphotos

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