10 September 2020

Trachelospermum asiaticum: Teika Kazura

A dwarf variety of Trachelospermum asiaticum
has very small leaves with more compact growth
Started 1980

Variegated Asiatic Jasmine 
Teika Kazura
Faux Jasmine - Trachelospermum asiaticum

A dwarf star jasmine with small yellow and green variegated leaves evergreen small-growing vine with glossy leaves that are much smaller than those of the standard Trachelospermum asiaticum.

Quite similar to the false jasmine Trachelospermum jasminoides, T. asiaticum produces flowers with a slightly smaller yellow heart (or cream). It has faster growth in the early years and is a bit more rustic

New growth is pinkish-bronze.

Despite its common name, Asiatic Jasmine

is not related to the true jasmines

The plant has a tight, compact growth with ovate to elliptic leaves ranging from quite tiny to around 1/4 inch in length.

at 34 years from a cutting

If unpruned it will climb or crawl on the ground, but it can be pruned to make a miniature shrub. When treated this way it makes a nice bonsai. A popular bonsai subject in Japan but not seen very often in the US.

Usage: Container, Ground-cover, Hanging Basket, Rock Garden, Wall, Topiary, Bonsai , Espalier

Drought Tolerant
USDA Zone 7-10.

strongly scented cream-colored flowers

This vine, Teika kazura, was named after the poet Fujiwara no Teika. “Teika” is a Noh Play written by Konparu Zenchiku about the rumored love affair between the poets Fujiwara no Teika and Shikishi NaishinnĊ, daughter of Goshirakawa, Emperor of Japan. To symbolize Teika’s clinging obsession for Princess Shikishi—even after their death—the grave of the princess placed in the middle of the stage and blanketed by a Asiatic jasmine.

Kazura means creeping plant, climbing plant

Trachelospermum asiaticum  Teika Kazura

Trachelospermum asiaticum trained to grow on a trellis

06 August 2020

Time to Defoliate

In summer the dwarf Schefflera 
can handle radical pruning
 and come back strongly

Dwarf Umbrella Tree  
Hawaiian Schefflera
Schefflera arboricola

A month after hard pruning

Schefflera arboricola
tolerance of neglect

A robust tree that does well both indoors and out and can adjust to a wide range of indoor conditions; it's not winter hardy outdoors in cold climates. 

Umbrella Tree

The Schefflera develops a rough wood-like trunk and branches that make it ideal for bonsai cultivation. The roots on a mature Dwarf Umbrella Bonsai give the effect of a banyan tree – and the style is called – Banyan.

2011 schefflera arboricola

1992 schefflera arboricola
Shefflera like slightly moist soil, but do not allow the soil to dry out can handle some under watering. But over-water it and rot the roots and kill the plant. Provide even, consistent watering. When one does water, water thoroughly. Rinse off any dust from the leaves. In winter water the plant sparingly as the plant requires less water because the tree is resting. Yellow, falling leaves is often the result of too much water. When kept indoors or under cool conditions, Schefflera arboricola does not like "wet feet"! Let it dry out and water less in the future. Empty that saucer! Out in the good old summertime the tree will quickly use any water in a tray, but too much direct sun may cause the leaves to yellow.

Hawaiian Umbrella Bonsai Tree

Can tolerate low light, but grows more strongly with high light but, the more light, the more compact the stronger the growth. If Shefflera gets thin, long and leggy- It is not getting enough light. Move it to a brighter spot.

Shefflera are tropical trees and prefer to be above 55F but must be kept above freezing. Shefflera appreciate being outdoors in summer. They prefer to be where it is warmer. When the AC comes on it is time for their summer vacation- fresh air, sunlight, strong healthy growth. Fertilize during this period of active growth.

schefflera arboricola 
 in suiban

Under very high humidity conditions Schefflera will produce aerial roots that, when they reach the ground, will convert to fully functional roots. Hawaiian Umbrella Bonsai Tree has interesting aerial banyan roots. The roots on a mature Dwarf Umbrella Bonsai give the effect of a banyan tree. Aerial roots on some of the tree species of Ficus and Schefflera continue to grow until they touch the ground and get entrenched. Initially, they draw moisture and nutrients from the air, but once they get embedded in the ground they derive their nutrition from the soil. Amid the numerous aerial roots that spring, only a few succeed in reaching the ground and getting through the soil. While the aerial roots embed to the ground and grow, they thicken considerably and form secondary trunks.


This small-leafed Schefflera develops a rough wood-like trunk and branches that make it ideal for bonsai cultivation. Robust tree that does well both indoors and out and can adjust to a wide range of indoor conditions; it's not winter hardy outdoors in cold climates.

Most growers prefer to use the “clip and grow” technique. Above the attachment point of each leaf is a bud on the tree from which a new branch will grow. By pruning about an inch above a leaf where the bud is pointing is the direction in which the new branch will grow.


28 July 2020

Time to start looking for ripening Japanese Maple seed!

Japanese Maple seeds! 

When the seed mature, the wings begin to dry and turn brown

 Japanese Maple 
Acer palmatum

 Japanese maple seed in midsummer

It All Begins With a Seed 

Japanese maple seed tips of the
 wings turn brown in late summer

Japanese maple seed wings drying

Bonsai grown from seeds are called Misho bonsai.

Many poke fun at the idea of starting a bonsai from a seed. “Look how old I am I don't have time", but the creation of a bonsai from a seed is very rewarding. 

From Japanese maple seedlings  

There is no such thing as a "bonsai seed". The packs of seed marked as such, are just ordinary tree seeds that can be grown into a bonsai. They are a good source of tree seeds when none are locally available. Bonsai grown from seeds are called Misho bonsai.

Once the new leaves come out
 in the spring,  flower 
and seed begin to appear 
on Bloodgood Seedling 

Tsukamiyose A natural planting can be created by scattering several to several dozen seeds in a tray. The seedlings are planted very close to each other and develop into multiple trunks with each tree naturally competing for its own light and space.

"I started it from seeds myself."

Getting tree seeds to sprout:

Most tropical trees will germinate as soon as they ripen, but seeds from most temperate trees need to be sown after stratification. Stratification is a period of artificial winter that trees that are not tropical need to set off the internal clock that spring triggers and makes seed sprout as temperatures rise. Depending on the seed species, they will need 21 to 90 days of cold storage to begin to sprout. This can be done in the home refrigerator.  Use zip-lock sandwich bags with damp peat moss. A fungicide can be used in the media to keep soil borne diseases from killing the seedlings. If any of the seed germinate in the refrigerator, plant them.

When the artificial winter is over, the seeds are ready to be planted.  It is suggested that they be soaked overnight in room temperature water to improve germination percentages. Seeds that float after soaking won't germinate so toss them out.

Japanese maple seed

Sow the seed in a light and friable soil mixture is so that it drains well to prevent fungus and sprinkle peat moss over them. Air should move to prevent damp-off. The air movement he says simulates natural outdoor conditions. Light friable soil dries quickly and seedling with their minimal root system can be killed in a few hours from dryness, or direct sun!

Chamomile tea - 2 tsp of chamomile flowers to 1 cup of boiling water allow to steep overnight or at least until cooled. Strain and then use as is to moisten growing medium before planting seeds then use in a mister to spray soil. Sage or garlic teas also have been used. Soak the seeds in a solution of hydrogen peroxide and water (1 teaspoon to 1/2 cup of water) to remove any lingering bacteria on the seeds. Some lightly sprinkle a bit of cinnamon or baking soda over planting mix used as a fungicide on plants for mildew.Two cap-fulls of household bleach in the water used to dampen your peat moss or vermiculite could act as a fungicide.

Always make sure horticultural tools are disinfected even if they are new, and that your planting pots are disinfected....

Disinfection of Horticultural Tools and Pots

Protect that
"Empty pot of soil"

Plant tree seed in the Fall and let Mother Nature take care of your stratification. Just remember to protect them from rodents (squirrels and mice) and label that “empty pot of soil”. Once I was talking with a fellow enthusiast in the nursery and he started raking his fingers through a tray filled with soil and began talking about soil mixes. I should have labeled that flat as I had seeded the tray with  Jacaranda for a Tsukamiyose the day before!

Second summer

Growing 'misho' bonsai is economical and rewarding.

the embryonic root emerges from the seed  

Seed germination begins!
Time to move them out of the cooler and into some good soil. 

The cotyledons are the embryonic
 "first leaves" of a seedling

True Leaves emerge

05 June 2020

Oortjies "little ears"

Falkia repens

"Little Ears"

African Morning Glory

Its Afrikaner name is Oortjies which translates as "little ears"

Falkia repens is native to the winter-rainfall areas of the Eastern Cape of South Africa where it often found on damp or temporarily inundated soils. 

Bees and other beneficial insects love the
Morning Glory-like flowers

A creeping mat-like perennial herb that forms a carpet of glossy rounded foliage only 2-4” tall

A creeping mat-like perennial herb that forms a
carpet of glossy rounded foliage only 2-4” tall

A creeping mat-like perennial herb, Falkia repens is a reliable groundcover with leaves that are slightly succulent, enabling to withstand high temperatures through conserving water its leaves. Falkia is propagated from rooted runners; divide sections of the plant with its roots.

Hardy and evergreen in USDA Zone 9-10 and comes back from the roots in colder locations and can be grown down to USDA Zone 7.

Falkia repens  is attractive to bees and other insects.

The leaves of Falkia repens resemble those of Dichondria micrantha but the species are easily distinguished when flowering There are white flowers with light pink blush flowers from early Spring thru Summer! This falkia can tolerate heat, drought and poor soil, despite its delicate appearance.

Kusamono and shitakusa (companion planting)

My first Kusamono from a Kora Dalager workshop
Falkia repens, Saxifraga stolonifera and Fuchsia


Kusamono are traditionally potted arrangements of wild grasses and flowers in unique pots or trays. The name is composed of two Japanese characters-- “grass” and “thing”—which together suggest humble, everyday plants or even weeds, however the art of kusamono has developed beyond is humble origins. Today the term kusamono is used when the accent plants are exhibited as the focus. Kusamono can be tall, mixed plantings or all the same plant, in or out of a container. The kusamono determines the impression of place and season, such as a meadow, a bog, or the mountains. In the West, these displays are known as companion or accent plants

Shitakusa is exhibited with bonsai or similar displays. Outside of Japan you will commonly hear the term companion or accent plant, however complementary plant may be most appropriate as shitakusa is not meant to be the dominant focus of the presentation. Rather, it is intended to complete the exhibit of the main focus, which can be a bonsai, a suiseki, and/or a scroll

Jiita - "thin hardwood boards placed under suiseki (or bonsai) for display" A beautifully crafted Jiita will accentuate the heart and soul of a bonsai.

Kokedama, which in English translates literally "moss ball", is a ball of soil, covered with moss, on which an ornamental plant grows. The idea has its origins in Japan where this garden art is centuries old and is tied into the practice of bonsai, but it has grown into its own art form. Today Kokedama are displayed as the center of attention, typically affixed to a piece of driftwood or bark, suspended from a string, or nestled in a low attractive container.

Nearai is a form, not commonly seen outside of Japan. Nearai refers to a single plant or mixed plantings that have been grown in pots and when the pot is full of roots it is removed and displayed on a flat container. The purpose of this form is to showing the roots which can be washed to expose them for a more dramatic effect. Often Shitakusa, Kusamono or Kokedama can and will eventually develop into Nearai.

Half inch white flowers with light pink blush
spring through summer


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