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The serissa bonsai: coming from Asia, with leaves with a characteristic odor
Characterized by a showy flowering that occurs from the beginning of March until mid-September, the serissa bonsai derives from a small evergreen shrub from South East Asia and China. It has very small glossy leaves, light green, which are recognized by virtue of the very penetrating smell they give off. The flowers, on the other hand, are quite large, with five petals, slightly pink or white. It is a bonsai (from the peculiar wrinkled bark, which from light brown becomes, with the passage of time, almost white) that does not manifest specific needs or cultivation problems: the only necessary trick is to not change too often its position. The bonsai serissa it prefers rather humid climates, and consequently requires fairly constant watering. Unlike what happens with most bonsai, in fact, in this case it is advisable to try to keep the soil slightly moist, so as to facilitate the growth of the plant, paying attention, however, to avoid water stagnation, which is dangerous in as harbingers of fungal infections. The leaves should be sprayed daily with rigorously distilled water, precisely to favor high levels of environmental humidity. In addition, once a month, water must be added to the watering of the fertilizer, in limited doses, since it is a species that proves to suffer chemical fertilizer. As for the soil, the ideal one is composed of two parts of sand, one of peat and one of clay. It must be well drained. The repottings, on the other hand, must be done once every two years, taking care not only to change the pots but also to prune the roots for a fifth of their length. Except for the flowering period, any time of year is fine.
How to prune the bonsai
The bonsai must be pruned in the first days of spring, thinning the branches both to favor oxygenation and to direct the hair towards the desired shape. Furthermore, during the year, the shoots must be trimmed (but not during the flowering period, of course), leaving three or four leaves per branch. In order to make the flowering more lasting, it is advisable to eliminate the withered flowers. The plant requires prolonged exposure to the sun, but care must be taken: in fact, while loving particularly bright places, it must avoid the direct rays of the sun. Taking into account that it suffers significantly from sudden temperature changes, it can be placed outside in summer, but not in winter, given that temperatures below ten degrees could compromise its survival. As for the multiplication, it takes place by cuttings: it is sufficient to take, in spring, semi-woody cuttings, which must then be buried in a mixture composed in equal parts by peat and sand. It is worth emphasizing that this bonsai is not overly sensitive to pest attacks, nor is it easily exposed to diseases. The most serious health problem can be the drying of the leaves, but it can be avoided simply by spreading a generic anti-cryptogamic agent on it four or five times a year.
The enemies: aphids, red spider mites and scale insects
Occasionally, moreover, attacks of red spider mites, aleuroids, aphids and above all cochineal may occur, which turn out to be particularly threatening for the roots. The latter appear in the form of off-white incrustations that appear on the stem and on the leaves: it is simply a woolly material, which constitutes the shell that protects them. To remove incrustations, you can proceed manually, or spray the affected areas with a solution of linseed oil. It is good to know, however, that probably scale insects will recur, given that their eggs are in the soil: in this case, more drastic interventions might be necessary. Bonsai pathologies can be countered and prevented with anti-parasitic products commercially available in all garden centers, applying consecutive treatments according to the recommended doses. One aspect that must be taken into account, in the maintenance of this bonsai of Asian origin, is undoubtedly fertilization, which must be carried out every ten days in March, that is when vegetative growth occurs. The best product consists of a mixture of organic liquid fertilizer with a stimulant-specific fertilizer for bonsai. It is good to stop the administration in July and August. Furthermore, it may be useful to use organic mineral fertilizer enriched with vitamin B if it is intended to promote rooting.
Bonsai serissa: An easy plant to handle
There serissa it is very suitable for bonsai art, because it gives life to particularly decorative plants: it is not a case that it is widespread, in China and Japan, even among the less experienced bonsaists, who are able to work it with the greatest ease. The plant, in essence, lends itself to shaping and leaves great spaces for action.