Fukien Tea

Fukien Tea (ehretia microphylla)


The Fukien Tea is stem from southern China and it was named after the province Fukien, in Chinese Fujian. It is now native in Malaysia, India, and the Philippines. The Fukien Tea is still very popular for Penjing in China, and in Western countries it is commonly sold and kept as an indoor Bonsai tree.

This popular tropical bush has small, shiny, dark green leaves with tiny hairs on the underside and little white dots on the surface of the foliage, sometimes mistaken for pests. The bark is light brown to reddish and may crack with age, adding to its character. Small white flowers can appear all year round and sometimes produce small yellow-red to dark berries.

Position

The Fukien Tea is an indoor Bonsai that only should be kept outside in very warm climates. It needs a lot of light and it should be positioned very close to the window where it gets the best light. The perfect temperature for the tree is around 20 degrees C (68F). In summer the Fukien tea bonsai can be kept outside as long as the nights are warm enough. In most cases, the winter in our heated flats can be a problem for the Fukien Tea. Not just because of the lack of daylight, but because of the dry air as well.

You can use a plant lamp if necessary to compensate and put a large tray filled with wet gravel or foamed clay under the pot for more humidity (make sure the pot doesn’t sit in water as it can cause root rot). When you open the windows in winter, take care that the Fukien Tea is not exposed to cold or frosty air.

Watering

Keep the soil moist, as it doesn’t like droughts, but be careful not to over water as it doesn’t like soil wetness either. As soon as the surface of the soil gets dry, the tree needs to be watered generously. Please avoide leaving the tree standing in excess water.

Feeding

Solid organic fertilizer is best for this tree as the roots are sensitive. Liquid fertilizers can also be used in carefully measured dosage and only on moist soil. During the growing season, from spring through fall, the Fukien bonsai should be fed every two weeks. During winter, reduce fertilizing to monthly.

Pruning

The Fukien tea tree tends to grow non-stop throughout the year and it can take pruning quite well. Regular trimming will make the tree grow a dense branch structure. Young shoots are tender and flexible so that they are easy to trim or wire but mature twigs and branches are hard and brittle so be careful when you want to wire and bend them. For the best result apply wire just as, or just after, the shoots turn from green to woody

Repotting

This tree should be repoted in early spring about every two years. Root pruning should be done with care because the Fukien Tea Bonsai does not take a great loss of roots, it should only be about ten percent. Most of these species of bonsai are imported from China and usually come planted in clay. When repotting the soil should be replaced with a well-draining bonsai mixture. A well-drained but on the other hand water buffering soil is very important because the Fukien Tea is sensitive to dry soul as well as excess wetness. A mixture of half organic and half inorganic work well just like Akadama with a little humus and pumice.

Propagation

The Fukien tea bonsai may be propagated fairly easily from either seed or cuttings in the summer.

Pests and diseases

Under inadequate conditions, the Carmona Bonsai can be vulnerable to a number of pests such as spider mites, scale, and whiteflies. Scale insect should be removed manually and the best treatment for other common pests is a gentle solution of dish soap in water, sprayed on the foliage to create runoff, then rinsed with plain water. It’s important to note that Ehretia microphylla is sensitive to chemical treatments. The key to the long-term success is improved light and humidity level. Always use clean tools and treat fresh wounds in order to avoid fungul infection.

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