serissa foetida bonsai

Snow Rose (Serissa Foetida) Bonsai Tree: How To Grow and Care

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Often simply referred to as “snow rose,” the snow rose bonsai is one of the most beautiful plants you can grow in your home. 

The full-sized version of this plant is a subtropical shrub that remains small and compact. It is sometimes called the Japanese boxthorn and the tree of thousand stars. Blooming from spring until summer, it can be sensitive to fluctuations in temperature. 

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Therefore, it is ideally suited for indoor bonsai cultivation. Here’s how to do it. 

Interesting Facts about Snow Rose Bonsai

Height: 6-8 inches

Width: 1-2 inches

Sunlight: Full sunlight 

Flowering Time Length: Early spring to fall 

Lifespan: 20+ years

Scientific name: Serissa japonica

Other names: Serissa Foetida

Types of Snow Rose

Snow rose is native to subtropical woodlands and wet meadows in southeast Asia. Snow Rose, or serissa japonica, is the only plant in the Serissa genus of flowering plants in the Rubiaceae family. 

It used to be called the Serissa foetida, so rest assured, if you see it sold by this name, it is, in fact, the same plant. “Foetida ” was taken out of the name because it refers to the odor that the tree gives off when its leaves are pruned – not exactly a pleasant conjuration, for sure! 

There are a few cultivars of Serissa japonica available for bonsai growers, including Pink Snow Rose, Variegata, Pink Mystic, Variegated Pink, Snow Leaves, Snowflake, Mt. Fuji, Sapporo, and Kyoto. 

Growing Snow Rose Bonsai from Seed or By Propagation

There are many bonsai types that you can grow by seedling. However, you should not attempt to grow snow rose bonsai from seed, as this can be quite the challenge. It’s easier to propagate this plant from semi-hardwood cuttings.

How To Care for Snow Rose Bonsai

Caring for a bonsai is not that difficult as long as you understand these basics:


Snow rose bonsai is not necessarily difficult to care for, but it can be a bit fussy. You need to be careful about moving it often, as it’s sensitive to movement and changes in temperature. 

This plant does not tolerate frost in the slightest. It needs to be kept at temperatures between 50 and 68 degrees at all times. Any fluctuations in temperature are not good for the plant – you also should avoid unnecessary changes in the tree’s position. 

The warmer the location is for your snow rose bonsai, the more light you will need. This plant responds well to grow lights, as long as you can provide consistent humidity.


You will need to keep the roots of your snow rose bonsai moist at all times. However, it’s equally important that you do not overwater the tree. If your tree begins to drop leaves, you may want to decrease watering ever so slightly. Avoid water that is overly acidic or alkaline – neutral water is preferred. 


You should apply a small amount of organic fertilizer once every four weeks. This will provide your snow rose bonsai with all the nutrients it needs. 

If you’d rather use a liquid fertilizer, you can – but apply it once per week during the growing season. It should be well-balanced. You only need to use liquid fertilizer once per month during the dormant winter season. It’s also important that you do not try to fertilize unhealthy snow rose bonsai plants, as this can be too overwhelming for the plants. 

Potting and Repotting

You should repot your snow rose bonsai once every other year, using a standard soil mix. You should prune the roots ever so slightly when you do this – keep in mind that they will give off an unpleasant odor when they are cut. 

Pruning a Snow Rose Bonsai

You can prune your snow rose bonsai heavily in the early spring. Trim young plants down to just two leaves when the shoots have produced four or five leaves. You can trim older trees, too, but only do this as long as they are flowering. You will need to cut back the branches every two to three years, which will keep the tree compact. 

Pests and Diseases

There are a few pests to which the delicate snow rose bonsai is prone. Among them, you will have to worry about spider mites, aphids, and root aphids.

You can use pesticides to get rid of these, but your best line of defense is increasing humidity. That said, overwatering can cause root rot, so you’ll want to make sure your soil is moist, but well-draining.

Where to Buy Snow Rose Bonsai

Snow rose bonsai can be purchased from just about any specialty bonsai retailer or online shop. If you’re new to growing bonsai, it’s important that you only purchase from a reputable source. Snow rose bonsai can be difficult to grow, so starting with the right stock is vital to your success as a newcomer.

*Photo by lobster20/depositphotos

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