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Cerissa Japonica - A Thousand Stars

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One of the most favorite crops used to create bonsai is the Japanese serissa. This delightful plant is also called the tree of a thousand stars (its blossoms quite justify this nickname). But serissa has other advantages. Beautiful bark, miniature leaves, amazing silhouettes - all this more than compensates for its capriciousness. Growing serissa is not an easy task. But nevertheless it is one of the most unpretentious indoor bonsai trees. © Jonathan Zander

Serissa - bonsai with graceful silhouettes

Serissa, an exotic tree native to us from the far East, has many beautiful names and nicknames. And they all eloquently testify to the appearance of this indoor "tame" giant. After all, both the "tree of a thousand stars" describing serissa flowering and the "bonsai stinker" are deservedly popular names. Serissa can indeed be unpleasantly surprising in the smell of its roots and wood. Still, this drawback does not scare bonsai lovers away from it: there are very few plants that would bloom more spectacularly among these special living works of art.

Serissa Japanese (Serissa japonica - official name, but synonym serissa stinky - Serissa foetida - is still very popular) - in nature is amazing in its scope. But in room culture, the size of the plant is difficult to estimate, since this tree is only represented in bonsai form. The height of indoor seriss varies from 15 to 40 cm. The leaves are very small, lanceolate-oval, arranged sparsely, which allows the plant to maintain the seemingly airy crown. Dense leathery surface only increases the charm of the leaves. The bark is also attractive: gradually changing color from golden to grayish-white, it harmonizes perfectly with the tone of greenery, beautifully flaking in thin strips.

Serissa flowers mostly 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. Serissa flowers are very pretty. They come in both simple and terry, and white and light pink. Features of serissa flowering depend on the chosen variety of gossamer, which was used to form bonsai. But still the miniature size of the star-shaped flowers and their number make it easy to recognize serissa among other bonsai.

We are not talking about the species or variety diversity of serissa in room culture. The plant is represented mainly by one species, Japanese serissa or stinking serissa in its basic form, and only one variety, Variegata, which depending on peculiarities of breeding and cultivation in its early years can appear as yellow-leaved, yellow-green-leaved or variegated serissa.

Cerissa japonica - a thousand stars
Bonsai of Japanese serissa. © bonsainabuco

Home care of serissa japanese

Serissa is one species of bonsai that can be called universal. It looks great not only in the office or living room, but also in the bedroom, office, conservatory, halls or foyer. It looks amazingly graceful and graceful, has a unique ability to "push" the boundaries and enhance the feeling of free space, looks like a real star even in very small rooms.

Lighting for serissa

Bonsai grown from serissa japanese need to be given intensive lighting, stable conditions throughout the year regardless of the season. Direct sunlight this type of tree will not tolerate, but also shading for it is inadmissible even in the lightest form. In winter the serissa must be moved to a better lighted place or compensate for the reduction of daylight by additional supplementary light.

Any change of location for serissa - related to 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 sudden (contrasting) movements. Change of location in serissa almost always results in complete or partial shedding of leaves, but if the whole procedure is carried out carefully and slowly, alopecia can be avoided. Such precautions also apply to turning the container with bonsai: it is better never to move the serissa in relation to the light source.

Comfortable temperature regime

Temperature regime for this beauty is very easy to choose. In spring and summer, the serissa is content with normal room conditions with a temperature of 20 to 25 degrees. The plant prefers to overwinter in a cool place with a temperature of about 15 degrees Celsius. The minimum temperature Serissa can tolerate is 12 degrees of heat.

Like all indoor bonsai, Serissa likes fresh air and without taking it to the garden or balcony at least for the summer will rather quickly wither away. But also serissa cannot be considered as a plant that is difficult to keep in rooms. It prefers to spend only 3-4 months in the fresh air - from May to September, when the air temperature at night exceeds 12 degrees. And this is quite enough for its normal development. During the rest of the year, the Serissa must be ventilated by frequent, careful ventilation of the room with all necessary precautions.

The key to success in growing this bonsai is to protect the plant from any stress factors and sudden temperature changes. Serissa must be protected from strong air currents during airing, not allowed close to heating or climate control devices.

Serissa watering and air humidity

Serissa requires very careful watering and constant control of the soil drying degree. This plant does not tolerate overwatering, but reacts even more painfully to drought. Its roots should always be in moist, but not damp substrate. Frequent but not too abundant watering with drying out only the top layer of substrate between procedures is preferable for serissa.

Decorativeness of serissa crown directly depends on air humidity. The plant feels better when its indicators are high, air humidifiers or installation of their analogues. In the hot season, you can safely spray the leaves. The minimum air humidity is about 50%.

Feeding for serissa stinky

Charming flowering bonsai is very demanding to the level of nutrients in the soil. For serissa carry out frequent and quite abundant fertilization during the period of active growth. From March to September fertilize half as much or four times as much fertilizer per week.

Fertilizer for this plant is not quite usual for bonsai - special preparations for flowering plants or fertilizer for violets.

If in winter the serissa is provided with additional light and maintained a stable air temperature, it continues to be fertilized, reducing the concentration of fertilizers by half. But if there is no additional supplemental light, feeding should be discontinued.

Cerissa japonica - a thousand stars
Serissa japonica (Serissa japonica), formerly Serissa foetida (Serissa foetida). © xeethot

Serissa pruning and shaping

Although the serissa belongs to a tree species that is difficult to control and grows quickly, regular pruning will be necessary. Serissa is trimmed once every 2 years for structural formation, controlling the young shoots in the spring and maintaining the contours of the bonsai. But another strategy can be applied: prune serissa on young shoots every year after flowering, leaving at least 2-3 pairs of leaves, or shorten by 1-2 pairs of leaves after transplanting. With active growth, undesirable growth can be pruned throughout the period of active growth.

If you want to form the silhouette of the branches, they are wrapped with copper wire and give the desired shape. But serissa should not be "pulled down" for more than 3-4 months of the year, and wrapping can only be done on young shoots. If necessary, serissa tolerates radical pruning well, the plant should be watched, since the trunk is constantly lengthening, and timely measures to control the shape should be taken.

Potting serissa and substrate

Serissa Japanese, like all bonsai, does not like frequent transplants and is quite painful to change the container. The plant is replanted only when necessary, with an average frequency of once every 3 years.

Substrate for this plant is chosen from a special earth mixture for bonsai. If you have enough experience, you can make up a soil mixture yourself by mixing 2 parts sand with 1 part peat and 1 part clay-sod mixture. For serissa, the soil reaction should be from 4.5 to 5.5 pH.

Serissa is grown in ceramic or plastic, decorative containers of small depth and volume.

The optimal time for transplanting serissa smelly - spring, at the beginning of the growth stage.

When transplanting strongly overgrown plant roots can be partially cut back, controlling the volume of the earth clod. Removing half of the mass of serissa roots is considered an optimal strategy if the standard transplanting frequency is followed. The roots should be handled carefully, using sharp tools and trying to avoid injury to the fragile tissues at the roots, which are left on the plant. At the bottom of the container, be sure to lay a layer of high drainage. After transplanting the serissa is protected from too bright light and provide accurate watering.

Diseases and pests of serissa

Serissa Japanese is considered one of the most resistant species of bonsai. But in unfavorable conditions and it can suffer from spider mite, aphids and whitefly. With any pest infestation, the fight immediately begins with insecticide treatment.

The excessive watering of serissa often causes the spread of decay. It is very difficult to cope with them, it is necessary to remove damaged areas of the roots and regularly treat the plant with systemic fungicides.

Cerissa japonica - a thousand stars
Bonsai of serissa Japanese. © Bonsai Warehouse

Propagation of serissa

The "thousand stars" tree is propagated mainly by cuttings. For propagation, young branches that have just begun to wood or left after pruning are used. At least three nodes should remain on the cuttings. Rooting is carried out under a hood, in a light sandy substrate, at high humidity and high temperatures (about 25 degrees), if possible providing the serrisses with bottom heating as well.