Serissa - Snow Rose & Tree of a Thousand Stars - Information & Care Instructions

Posted on 21 Sep 20:14

Snow Rose Serissa (serissa‘foetida’)
Tree of a Thousand Stars (serissa 'japonica')
Serissa with Curved Trunk Serissa Blooms Large Serissa   Large Serissa Bloom  Medium Serissa in Blue Pot

Serissa is a genus of flowering plants in the family Rubiaceae; Genus Serissa; Species Japonica;  Synonym: Serissa‘Foetida’
A Tropical / Sub-tropical plant; Serissa's native range is the open sub-tropical woodlands and wet meadows in southeast Asia, from India, and China to Japan. 
In most the USA, it should be considered an Indoor Bonsai. As an Outdoor Bonsai it should be limited to Zones 9 (with protection) on the low end, to 11 or warmer.  Minimum outdoor temperature should be about 40F.
Snow Rose and Tree of a Thousand Stars; are slightly different cultivars of Serissa with slightly different flower & leaf shapes / size. Serissa 'japonica' may have slightly smaller leaves.
Serissa are considered desirable as Bonsai because of their tendency to naturally develop surface roots, interesting bark patterns (which give them an appearance of age) and their compact branching habits. Both cultivars are cared for the same way and both bloom profusely with miniature white flowers.  Buds may be pale pink before opening to white blooms.
Serissa is Evergreen (unless stressed).  Indoor or outdoors it likes full sun to moderate shade.  Under lower lighting conditions Serissa's growth will be less compact. 
Outdoors Serissa blooms from mid to late spring thru early fall; indoors it may bloom all year. 
Serissa likes mildly acidic soil, and should never be allowed to dry out.  Keep the soil moist, but not wet. Mist when not in bloom; Serissa likes a slightly humid environment.  Care should be taken if your outdoor environment is arid or your home tends to be dry during the winter; a Humidity Drip Tray is strongly recommended. 
Over all, Serissa is not difficult to maintain as bonsai, but is fussy.  Bottom Line is Serissa does not like change.  It will responds adversely by dropping leaves if: over-watered, under-watered, if it's too cold, if it's too hot, or because your moved to a new location. It is defiantly a place it and leave it, or move it slowly plant.  Change in location / lighting conditions (in to outdoor & vise versa) should be done in stages to avoid stress.  It is not uncommon for Serissa to loose leaves in transit.  Yet Serissa is hardy enough to grow back to health, when conditions are back to it's liking.

How To Take Proper Care Of Your Indoor Bonsai Tree

Bonsai is the reproduction of natural tree forms in miniature. This art form has its origin in Japan and China where it has been practiced for centuries. Bonsai are grown in pots and are totally dependent on you for their care.

With proper care, your bonsai will remain healthy, beautiful and miniature for many years to come. Since your bonsai is a living miniature tree, it will increase in beauty as it matures through the years. The instructions below are just the basics and, therefore, we recommend that you purchase one of the many fine books available on the subject.

Your Serissa Bonsai will thrive indoors in high light and appreciates being kept outdoors during the spring and summer. When night time temperatures drop below 50 degrees, it is time to start moving your Serissa indoors, It should be placed on a windowsill or on a table in front of one to take advantage of as much natural light as available.

Once nightly lows begin approaching the 45 degree mark, your Serissa should be indoors.  The ideal indoor location is on a window sill facing south. An east or west exposure is second best. Four to six hours of full to moderate sunlight per day should suffice.  If you can provide more, so much the better.  A northern exposure will work, but will necessitate the use of "grow lights" to provide sufficient light to keep your bonsai healthy (may need up to 12 hours of supplemental lighting depending on your home.

The watering of your Serissa must never be neglected. Apply water before the soil appears dry - never allow the soil to become completely dry.  Water should be applied until it begins running out of the holes in the bottom of your pot. It doesn’t really matter “how” you water your tree, but rather that when you are finished the tree has been well watered. If your are new to Bonsai or unsure consider using a moisture meter until you get to know the requirements of your bonsai tree.

During the cold months, when your bonsai is inside, we recommend placing it in a shallow tray filled with a layer of gravel with water added. This provides a local, micro environment, of extra moisture around your tree as the water evaporates.  This is particularly important in winter when humidity is reduces by naturally more arid conditions or modern heating systems.

Fertilizing is also necessary if your bonsai is to remain healthy and beautiful. Since your bonsai is growing in such a small amount of soil it is necessary to replenish the soil's supply of nutrients periodically. Any general-purpose liquid fertilizer will do fine and is available at most garden centers. We suggest that fertilizers be used at half their recommended strength.
Fertilizer should be applied at least once a month except during winter. Your bonsai will also respond well to foliar feeding, with a water-soluble fertilizer applied every other month as a spray.

This brief explanation of basic care does not cover training. Training deals with the art of bonsai and should be thoroughly understood before undertaking - or left to a professional. However, most of the true bonsai trees you find have already been through their training period, thus requiring only periodic trimming and pinching to remain miniature.

Trimming and pinching keep your tree miniature. Pinch and trim back the new growth to the farthest safe point. Never should all of the new growth be removed. A little should be left to sustain the health of the tree. Tropical and sub-tropical trees used for bonsai will require periodic pinching and trimming throughout the year. Since different trees grow at different rates, it is necessary to evaluate each tree’s rate of growth and adjust your trimming and pinching to accommodate it.

When necessary Serissa should be repotted in Spring when the growing season begins.  Repotting must be performed periodically on all bonsai when their root system have filled the pot.
The reasons for repotting are to supply your tree with fresh soil, and to encourage a more compact root system.  Use a Tropical / Sub-tropical soil mix that will drain well.
Your Serissa was re-potted before it was shipped.  As a rule, it should only need to be repotted every three years or so. Since trees grow at different rates, this schedule will not always hold true, therefore, you should examine your tree's root system each year to determine if it has become pot-bound.
The potting process is easy and safe if performed properly and at the right time of the year. The tree, along with all of its soil, should be removed from the pot. The outer and bottom most fourth of the tree's root mass should be removed. This is done by raking the soil away, then pruning back the roots. In most cases, it is not good to prune back more than one fourth of the tree's root mass. After this, the tree can be placed back in its original pot or into another. The pot should have screen placed over the drainage holes. Then a thin layer of small gravel is placed in the bottom of the pot for drainage purposes. On top of this gravel is placed the new fresh soil. Place a layer of well-draining soil which is sufficient enough to elevate the tree to its previous height in the pot. After placing the tree back in the pot, the area left vacant by the pruned root mass should be filled in with fresh soil. This fresh soil should be worked in around and under the root mass in such a manner as to avoid leaving any air pockets.
After repotting, your bonsai should be thoroughly watered. The best way to 'settle' your tree after re-potting is to submerging the entire pot in a tub of water, drain and repeat.  The idea is to wash soil into any remaining air pockets.  Moss or other ground covers can then be used to cover the surface of the pot to help prevent soil erosion when watering.

Since your bonsai is a tree in miniature, it can be treated for insects and diseases the same as any other tree. If you discover any insects or diseases, visit our website where you will be able to obtain the necessary products to eliminate the problem.