One of the most beloved crops used to create bonsai is Japanese serissa. This delightful plant is also called the tree of a thousand stars (its flowering fully justifies such a nickname). But the serissa has other virtues as well. Beautiful bark, miniature leaves, amazing silhouettes – all this more than compensates for her capriciousness. Growing serissa is not an easy task. But still, it is considered one of the most unpretentious of indoor bonsai.
Serissa japonica (Serissa japonica). Farmer Burea-Uinsurance.com Jonathan Zander
Serissa – bonsai with graceful silhouettes
Serissa, an exotic tree for us from the Far East, has many beautiful names and nicknames. And they all eloquently testify to the appearance of this roomy “tamed” giant. After all, both the “tree of a thousand stars”, which describes the flowering of the serissa, and the “stinky bonsai” are deservedly popular names. Serissa can really surprise you with the smell of its roots and wood. But still, this drawback does not scare away bonsai lovers from her: there are very few plants that would bloom more effectively among these special living works of art.
Serissa Japanese (Serissa japonica – official name, but synonymous smelly serissa — Serissa foetida – still very popular) – in nature it is striking in its scope. But in a room culture, the size of a plant is difficult to estimate, since this tree is presented only in the form of a bonsai. The height of indoor serissa ranges from 15 to 40 cm. The leaves are very small, lanceolate-oval, sparsely spread, which allows the plant to maintain the apparent airiness of the crown. The dense leathery surface only enhances the charm of the foliage. The bark is also attractive: it gradually changes its color from golden to gray-whitish, it harmonizes perfectly with the tone of the greenery, beautifully exfoliating in thin stripes.
Serissa blooms mainly in June, but with bonsai, the flowering period is often difficult to predict, and in individual plants it may differ from the generally accepted timing. The flowers of the serissa are very beautiful. They are simple, and terry, and snow-white, and light pink. The peculiarities of the flowering of the serissa depend on the selected variety of the giant, which was used to form the bonsai. But still, the miniature size of the stellate flowers and their number make it easy to recognize the serissa among other bonsai.
The species or varietal diversity of serissa is out of the question in indoor culture. The plant is mainly represented by one species – Japanese serissa, or smelly in its basic form and only one of its varieties – variegated (Variegata), which, depending on the characteristics of selection and cultivation in the early years, can appear as yellow-leaved, yellow-green-leaved or variegated serissa …
Caring for Japanese serissa at home
Serissa is one of the types of bonsai that can be called universal. It looks great not only in the study or living room, but also in the bedroom, office, winter garden, hallways or foyer. She looks amazingly graceful and graceful, has a unique ability to “push” boundaries and enhance the feeling of free space, looks like a real star even in very small rooms.
Lighting for serissa
Bonsai grown from Japanese serissa must be provided with intense lighting, stable conditions throughout the year, regardless of the season. This type of trees will not stand direct sunlight, but shading is also unacceptable for it, even in the lightest form. In winter, the serissa must be rearranged to a more illuminated place or compensated for the reduction in daylight hours with additional supplementary lighting.
Any change in the place for the serissa – associated with the need to increase the intensity of lighting, taking it out into the fresh air, changing the interior – must be done very carefully, gradually, trying not to make any sharp (contrasting) movements. A change in location in a serissa almost always turns into a complete or partial shedding of leaves, but if you carry out the whole procedure carefully and slowly, baldness can be avoided. Such precautions also apply to turning the container with bonsai: it is better to never shift the serissa in relation to the light source.
It is very easy to choose the temperature regime for this beauty. Serissa in spring and summer is content with normal room conditions with temperatures ranging from 20 to 25 degrees. The plant prefers to overwinter in a cool place with a temperature of about 15 degrees Celsius. The minimum temperature that serissa can withstand is 12 degrees Celsius.
Like all indoor bonsai, the serissa loves fresh air and without taking it out to the garden or on the balcony, at least for the summer, it will wither rather quickly. But also to the plants that are difficult to keep in the rooms, serissa cannot be attributed. She prefers to spend only 3-4 months outdoors – from May to September, when the air temperature at night exceeds 12 degrees. And this is quite enough for her for normal development. During the rest of the year, the serissa are provided with frequent, neat ventilation of the premises for access to fresh air, with all the necessary precautions.
The key to success in growing this bonsai is to protect the plant from any stress factors and sudden changes in temperature. Serissa must be protected from strong air currents during ventilation, not allowed to be close to heating or climate control devices.
Irrigation of serissa and air humidity
Serissa requires very careful watering and constant monitoring of the degree of soil drying. This plant does not tolerate waterlogging well, but reacts even more painfully to drought. Its roots should always be in a moist, but not in a damp substrate. For serissa, frequent, but not too abundant watering is preferable, with only the upper layer of the substrate drying out between treatments.
The decorativeness of the crown of the serissa directly depends on the humidity of the air. The plant feels better with its increased indicators, the operation of air humidifiers or the installation of their counterparts. In the hot season, you can safely spray the leaves. The minimum air humidity is about 50%.
Top dressing for stinky serissa
The adorable flowering bonsai is very picky about the nutrient content of the soil. For serissa, frequent and rather abundant feeding is carried out during the period of active growth. From March to September – once every 1 weeks – the plant is fed with a half-reduced portion of fertilizer or once a week with a fourfold reduced dose of fertilizer.
For this, the plants are made with fertilizers that are not quite usual for bonsai – special preparations for flowering plants or fertilizers for violets.
If in winter the serissa is provided with supplementary lighting and a stable air temperature is maintained, then additional fertilizing is continued for it, reducing the concentration of fertilizers by half. But if there is no additional supplementary lighting, feeding should be stopped.
Pruning and shaping serissa
Despite the fact that the serissa is a tree species that is difficult to control and grows quickly, it will also need regular pruning. For structural formation, the serissa is pruned at a frequency of 1 time in 2 years, in the spring, controlling young shoots and maintaining the outlines given by the bonsai. But another strategy can be applied: pruning serissa on young shoots annually after flowering, leaving at least 2-3 pairs of leaves or shortening 1-2 pairs of leaves after transplanting. With active growth, undesirable growth, you can pinch during the entire period of active growth.
If you want to form a silhouette of the branches, they are wrapped with copper wire and given the desired shape. But the serissa cannot be “tightened” for more than 3-4 months a year, and winding can be carried out only on young shoots. If necessary, the serissa tolerates radical pruning well, the plant must be monitored, since the trunk is constantly lengthening, and measures should be taken to control the shape in a timely manner.
Serissa transplant and substrate
Serissa Japanese, like all bonsai, does not like frequent transplants and rather painfully tolerates a change in capacity. The plant is transplanted only as needed, with an average frequency of 1 every 3 years.
The substrate for this plant is selected from a number of special earth mixtures for bonsai. If you have enough experience, you can make a soil mixture yourself by mixing 2 parts of sand with 1 part of peat and 1 part of a clay-sod mixture. For serissa, the reaction of the soil should be between 4,5 and 5,5 pH.
Serissa is grown in ceramic or plastic decorative containers of small depth and volume.
The optimal transplant time for stinky serissa is spring, at the beginning of the growth stage.
When transplanting, highly overgrown plant roots can be partially cut off, controlling the volume of the earthen coma. Removing half of the mass of serissa roots is considered the optimal strategy, while maintaining the standard frequency of replanting. The roots should be handled with care using sharp instruments and taking care to avoid trauma to the fragile tissue at the roots that is left on the plant. A layer of high drainage must be laid at the bottom of the container. After transplanting, the serissa is protected from too bright light and careful watering is provided.
Diseases and pests of serissa
Serissa japonica is considered one of the most resistant bonsai species. But in unfavorable conditions, it can also suffer from spider mites, aphids and whiteflies. In case of any damage by pests, the fight immediately begins with insecticide treatment.
Excessive watering of the serissa often causes the spread of rot. It is very difficult to cope with them, you need to remove damaged areas of the roots and regularly treat the plant with systemic fungicides.
Reproduction of serissa
The tree “a thousand stars” is propagated mainly by cuttings. For reproduction, use young, just starting to woody or branches remaining after pruning. At least three nodes should remain on the cuttings. Rooting is carried out under a hood, in a light sandy substrate, at high air humidity and high temperatures (about 25 degrees), if possible, providing the seriss with lower heating as well.