21 June 2017

Poor Man’s Tea

Sweet Plum
Chinese Sweet Plum
Chinese Bird Plum
Hedge Sageretia
Pauper’s Tea
Mock Buckthorn
Sageretia theezans
Sageretia thea

Chinese Bird Plum

Sageretia theezans

Sageretias are tender shrubs with small green leaves and leathery exfoliating bark that leaves a multicolored patchwork. In summer tiny flowers appear in the leaf axils of new shoots and produce large clusters of white followed by small blue stone fruit. If a Chinese Sweet Plum is pruned too often, the flower buds will be removed and it will not flower.

field grown
Chinese sweet plum
 Sageretia theezans

Sageretias are evergreen in milder climates but become deciduous in temperate zones when exposed to the cold of winter. Sageretia are very rarely seen for sale in Garden Centers. Chinese sweet plum has a tendency to climb and is difficult to control as an ornamental plant. The growth is similar to Pyracantha. There was one growing in Daffin Park, but it was removed a few years ago. Branches have spines, sharp thorn tips.

Small white flowers in spring

Chinese sweet plum is widely used for creating bonsai and is often sold as a bonsai for indoors. Sageretia theezans shoots from old wood and is trained using the “Clip and Grow" technique. Many bonsai Chinese sweet plum are imported from China where they are field grown. Sageretias are tender shrubs and will survive temperatures just below freezing but will drop all leaves. They must be protected from hard freezes where the roots could freeze. Sageretia are considered to be a cool house bonsai. If kept indoors, Sageretias need a position that is reasonably humid and should be cool at night as in an unheated room. The tree should be held at 55-60 F for 6-8 weeks around the winter solstice. Once nighttime temperatures are consistently over 55 degrees, move tree outside. Can take full sun all day but watering requirements increase dramatically. Beware of leaf burn when moving from shade to full sun. Keep the soil slightly moist, never let dry completely. Sweet Plum is usually trained with the clip and growth method. Sageretias back-bud readily and has a nice angular growth pattern.

exfoliating bark

In Savannah the Sageretia can be grown outdoors all year round with some protection on the few nights that dip below 25 F. Small flowers and fruit will develop if the tree is left unpruned.

04 June 2017

Nicodemia is one of the old time house plants

Parlor Oak
Indoor Oak

Room Oak
Parlor Oak
Indoor Oak

Buddleia indica (BUD-lee-uh)

Nicodemia diversifolia

Buddleia indica:

Family: Loganiaceae

After the American botanist James Logan

Butterfly Bush......

This native to Madagascar is an evergreen shrub with alternate leaves that are reminiscent of oak leaves. Parlor Oak has light to dark brown bark laced with bright stripes. The simple yellow flowers are small and sit together in small clusters on old wood. The fruit of B. indica is a yellow-white, fleshy berry. Nicodemia is one of the old time house plants that was used extensively from the 1920's to 1940's and is receiving serious interest by tropical bonsai enthusiasts. In the summer it should be kept outdoors. In winter, the plant can stay in a cool unheated room.
The fruit of B. indica is a yellow-white, fleshy berry

Once the surface of the soil is slightly dry, the soil should be watered. When the plant is in the winter cold, it should be watered less. Keep the soil barely moist and if you use rainwater, be careful as it could be acidic. Use warm water. Avoid using cold water! It can shock tender roots. Fill watering can with tepid water or allow cold water to sit for a while to come to room temperature before watering. Roots need oxygen to breathe: do not allow plants to sit in a tray filled with water. This will only promote disease. Broom shape and the upright forms can be obtained by selective pruning. The cascade form can be created by wiring or clamps. Parlor Oak can be propagated by cuttings.

simple yellow flowers are small and sit together
in small clusters on old wood.

23 May 2017

Airlayer Removed today

Acer palmatum Japanese Maple
Koto Hime 

Air-layering as a way of propagating bonsai material. Layering will often create a ring of fine surface roots that yield an excellent nebari in a short period of time.

The leaves on Kotohime are among the smallest of the Japanese maples. The growth habit is upright with heavy branching. Trees may eventually reach 5 to 6 foot tall, but only after many years. The very small leaves are palmate, resemble a human hand. New leaves are bright red at the leaf edges, with green at the centers, then become bright green. 'Hime' means literally 'Princess' but here indicates a dwarf.

Root development at separation
of the layer from the parent tree

Koto Hime Japanese maple
has a strong vertical growth habit

Root development at separation
of the layer from the parent tree

Acer palmatum Japanese Maple
Koto Hime 

Keep Outdoors in a sunny location.
Deciduous tree and fully frost hardy.
Check the soil daily but only water when necessary.
Never allow soil to dry out, keep the soil evenly moist.
Koto Hime Japanese maple has a strong vertical growth habit
responds well to drastic pruning- allow shoots to extend 3 or 4 nodes
then prune back to 1 or 2 leaves, to maintain shape
Horizontal branches must be wired into place
Repot In Spring before buds extend
Koto Hime Japanese maple has a strong vertical growth habit
Fertilize at one-third strength during the growing season.
A great plant for beginners.

21 May 2017

Spicebush Swallowtail caterpillar munching on a Serissa

Caterpie munching on a Serissa

Spicebush Swallowtail butterfly caterpillar is green with eyespots.

Serissa are a popular bonsai subject

Serissa grow best in high light and thrive in sunny, warm locations. Better lighting conditions will result in more frequent flowering. Serissa does well in partial shade. Best results are from plants that have sun in the mornings and shade in the afternoons. Expect any Serissa to drop its leaves when temperatures fall to near freezing.

Among the most popular of the Chinese tropical plants, the wild Serissa, also known as “Tree of a Thousand Stars” is known for thousands of small white flowers, and characteristic raised roots. Most Serissa Imports are the Thousand Stars.
USDA Zones 7 - 11

Serissa foetida
Serissa as a Bonsai, trunk in dragon shape, ca. 16 years.

The dragon is a symbol of happiness in Buddhism, the shape of a dragon is often found in the design of bonsai.

Japanese Boxthorn, 1951-2007

A Japanese Boxthorn (Serissa japonica) bonsai on display at the National Bonsai & Penjing Museum at the United States National Arboretum.
According to the tree's display placard, it has been in training since 1951. It was donated by Shu-ying Lui.


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