fukien tea bonsai

Fukien Tea Tree (Carmona retusa) Bonsai: How To Grow and Care

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With delicate white blossoms that bloom during practically every season of the year, the Fukien Tea Tree is one of the best plants you can cultivate as a bonsai specimen. 

Even though it has fragrant white blossoms for much of the year, the tree is beautiful even when it’s not in full bloom. It has dark green leaves that are shiny and speckled with pale white dots. 

The trunk of the tree is a brownish-red, a feature that contrasts beautifully with the dark green leaves and white flowers.

Interesting Facts about Fukien Tea Tree Bonsai

Height6-29 inches
Width8-16 inches
SunlightIndirect sunlight preferred
Flowering Time LengthNearly year-round
Lifespan100+ years
Scientific nameEhretia microphylla (Carmona retusa)

Types of Carmona Retusa

Fukien Tea Tree bonsai is native to China, originally named after the Chinese province Fukien (Fuijan in Chinese). It is also found in parts of Australia, Japan, Taiwan, and Indonesia. It is one of the most common bonsai trees to grow indoors.

This plant is also known as the Philippine tea tree and is a flowering plant in the borage family. It goes by several synonyms, including Carmona heterophylla, Carmona microphylla, Cordia retusa, and more. 

Growing Fukien Tea Tree Bonsai from Seed or By Propagation

Fukien Tea Tree bonsai can be propagated from seeds or by using cuttings. This is best done during the summer months.

How To Care for Fukien Tea Tree Bonsai

Sunlight

Suited to an equatorial climate, the Fukien Tea Tree bonsai should be grown in warm temperatures. When grown indoors, this means cultivating your plant in a room that gets no cooler than 65 degrees. You will need to supply a minimum of four hours of direct sunlight each day, too. 

The best spot will be a location that receives morning sun and a bit of afternoon shade (when grown in warm climates). Sunny areas near windows that are positioned toward the west or southeast are ideal. 

If you are able to grow your Fukien Tea Tree bonsai outside, that’s all the better. You can grow this tropical bonsai on a deck that receives indirect sunlight. 

As long as temperatures stay warm and you water your plant regularly, you can even grow this plant in an arid climate. Fukien Tea Tree bonsai can be grown in temperatures as warm as 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

Watering

The watering needs of your Fukien Tea Tree bonsai will vary depending on the time of the year in which you are caring for your plant. 

In fall, winter, and spring, you can water your plant every two to three days. However, during the hot summer growing periods, you will want to water every day – particularly if you are growing in a dry, hot climate. 

When you water, try to use a hose attachment that softly waters the soil instead of blasting it. This will prevent you from disturbing the soil in the pot. Never let your Fukien tea Tree bonsai dry out. 

What’s just as important as watering is that your Fukien Tea Tree bonsai is positioned in a spot with good air circulation. Try to avoid cold drafts along with heating vents, which can dry out your plant.

Fertilizing

Over time, your Fukien Tea Tree bonsai will deplete the soil of nutrients. Therefore, it’s essential to provide proper fertilizer to make sure your plant stays healthy. You can use a time-released or water-soluble fertilizer. If you use a liquid fertilizer, make sure you apply these at the recommended dosage and only on moist soil. 

You can feed the tree from spring to autumn, but fertilize less often during dormant periods of the winter. 

Potting and Repotting 

You will need to repot your Fukien Tea Tree bonsai once every three to five years. Wait a minimum of one growing season before you repot your plant upon its arrival. 

When you repot your bonsai, use a soil mixture that contains clay particles and finely ground pine bark. This soil does not become compacted so water will drain easily – this can prevent root rot. 

When you repot your plant you will also need to trim the root ball. Cut large roots rather than small feeder roots and trim until it fits into your new container.

Pruning a Fukien Tea Tree Bonsai

You will likely need to prune your Fukien Tea Tree bonsai on a regular basis. This will help the tree produce smaller branches and will maintain its miniature size. 

Use a small pair of scissors to do this. You do not need to wire the plant as long as the branches are in your desired position.

Pests and Diseases

Fukien Tea Tree bonsai is a relatively hardy bonsai species. However, when grown in inadequate conditions, it can occasionally suffer from various pests and diseases. Spider mites, scale, and whiteflies are the most common. 

You can use insecticide sprays but this will only serve as a temporary solution. Instead, make sure you provide proper conditions in regard to light and humidity to prevent any serious infestations.

Another problem to which Fukien Tea Tree bonsai is prone is chlorosis. This is caused by watering the plant with hard water. If you notice it occurring, use an iron fertilizer, which will help reverse any leaf damage.

Where to Buy Fukien Tea Tree Bonsai

You can purchase Fukien Tea Tree bonsai from most nurseries and garden supply stores. However, Fukien Tea Tree bonsai is best purchased from a specialty bonsai shop. Here, you will find the best-quality plants that are selected for their suitability for container growth. 

*Photo by taviphoto/depositphotos

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