miller81
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I just got a FUKIEN TEA and would appreicate any advice!

Hello everyone,

I just got a Fukien Tea tree. It is estimated seven years old and as been trained for 2 years. This is my second tree (the first one didn't work out??) I am very motivated to grow a successful tree. I had a few questions:

-Is it okay if this plant stays indoors year around? (I read both yes and no)

-Lighting? (Is room lighting enough for the tree?)

-Watering? (I read many different versions)

-Feeding? (Could I use Miracle Gro? If so is there a certain kind?)

Should I set the tree in a few inches of water if I was to go away for a week? or all the time so it always as water?

I would appreciate any advice anyone is willing to give me!

Thank you!

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miller81,

Hello and welcome to the forum.
Is it okay if this plant stays indoors year around? (I read both yes and no)
I have a strong preference to get all of my tender plants outside during the summer. I feel that they really do much better and it is easier on me. But with cool weather almost upon us you might as well establish it in its winter quarters right off the bat, no point in moving it around more than necessary. You will have all winter to decide what you wish to do with it next summer. Apparently Fukien Tea is able to do well with moderate lighting, I don't grow this species so I will defer to others.

https://www.bonsai4me.com/SpeciesGuide/Carmona.html
https://www.bonsaihunk.us/info/FukienTea.html
https://www.bonsai-bci.com/species/fukien.html

Make sure to explore the rest of the first two sites, they will answer most, if not all, of your questions. The second one in particular is oriented toward indoor cultivation.
Watering? (I read many different versions)
Have a look at the sticky threads located at the top of the forum, the one on general growing has tips on basic watering. Briefly, water thoroughly from above then wait (as appropriate for the species in question) before watering again.
Feeding? (Could I use Miracle Gro? If so is there a certain kind?)
Most bonsai can be fertilized with general products with no problem, no need for the so called bonsai fertilizer. I am not aware of any special requirements with this species. Whatever type of fertilizer you are familiar with will probably be OK as long as you don't over-do it. I mix my fertilizer at full strength (dilute as per the instructions on the package) although others prefer to mix at half strength. Whatever you do do not mix it at more than the suggested ratio.
Should I set the tree in a few inches of water if I was to go away for a week? or all the time so it always as water?
Standing your pot in water does not sound like a good idea to me. Some species tolerate, even prefer, this technique but I don't think Fukien Tea is among them. Your pot must drain freely this is why bonsai growers are so adamant about using coarse, granular soils.

Vacations will likely be a problem fortunately, or unfortunately, I don't travel much so I am able to tend my trees. I can't really help much there.

Some of the other members probably can be more specific than I was able to be.

Norm

EDIT: See the third link posted above.

kdodds
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Re: I just got a FUKIEN TEA and would appreicate any advice!

miller81 wrote:-Is it okay if this plant stays indoors year around? (I read both yes and no)
It is okay for a Fukien Tea to be indoors year round, but as Norm has said, it's sometimes easier if they're outdoors. This is more geared, I suspect, towards caring for multiple trees, however. A single indoor tree is not really all that much work.
miller81 wrote:-Lighting? (Is room lighting enough for the tree?)
That's a very tricky question as not all rooms have the same lighting, or the same intensity of lighting, or the same photoperiod. Barring a greenhouse, mine is in a location where it can get as much light as it could possibly get and still be indoors. It's in a south facing, glass top, greenhouse window with sides open to the east and west. It exhibits the most vigorous and compact growth when it's placed closest to the pane, and not blocked by any other plants.
miller81 wrote:-Watering? (I read many different versions)
I've read mostly that Fukien Tea soil should not be allowed to dry out completely. This seems to be born out in practice. I can water it once per week, but twice seems better.
miller81 wrote:-Feeding? (Could I use Miracle Gro? If so is there a certain kind?)
I use an osmocote type product in conjuction with weekly to every other week fertilizing with liquid fertilizer during the growing period, and monthly liquid fertilizing during the late fall and winter. I've spoken to several indoor growers who also sell plants (unfortunately not online) now and each use the same or very similar regimens. The most recent was a guy I ran into at the Yellow Daisy Festival in Stone Mountain, Georgia. I got a beautiful Brazilian Raintree from him, about 12" tall, very well developed, for only $60, in a nice glazed Chinese pot, with amendments. Anyway, he's doing the same thing and had some very impressive trees for sale. One was a Fukien Tea some 20" tall in a slanting style that was really awesome. I expected it to be $600 or more, but he was asking only $350. Anyway, being in a warmer climate, all of his trees are grown outdoors.
miller81 wrote:Should I set the tree in a few inches of water if I was to go away for a week? or all the time so it always as water?
No, it should never sit in water. Fukien Teas are prone to root rot if this is done. The day before I left for vacation this year, I watered all of the trees from above, saturating the soil, waiting 15 minutes, and then watering again. I plugged up the basin so the run off water would sit. I added necessary water after the watering from above to allow the pots to sit up to the rim in water and left them there for 30 minutes. The only care required while I was gone was misting once to twice per day. If you don't have someone who can do this, placing pots of water next to the plant will help to keep humidity levels up in its immediate vicinity.

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kdodds,
but as Norm has said, it's sometimes easier if they're outdoors. This is more geared, I suspect, towards caring for multiple trees, however. A single indoor tree is not really all that much work.
You are correct, I am dealing with numerous pots of various species including Jades (both conventional and trumpet types) Portulacaria, Aloe, Sansaveria, Ficus and most recently Pomegranate & Citrus from seed. Furthermore my home lacks much in the way of natural lighting so I am forced to rely on supplemental lighting. These factors make getting things outside during the warm months all but a necessity for me. Your greenhouse window make me jealous.

kdodds
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:lol: It is an awesome window. We're actually talking about expanding it outward a little more. It's a Marvin window and holds humidity fairly well, even though it's open to the room, yet still allows for air flow through vent holes (weather permitting). Granted, this makes indoor keeping the easiest it's ever been for me, and cuts maintenance down to misting once or twice per day and watering once (sometimes twice) per week. The best thing is it's in the kitchen, by the sink (oversized), so I can water or soak everything (12+ trees) in only two rotations.

miller81
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Thanks everyone.......

First I would like to thank everyone for there help! I am really motivated to have a healthy Fukien Tea! I have a few more questions:

Watering- I read a secret about putting a tooth pic into the soil and testing the moisture of the soil by the dampness of the tooth pick to tell if the tree needs to be watered!!! (Is this an effective way?) When watering should I use the so called submersion style (where I place the tree in a bucket up to it’s mid truck for 3-4 mins.?) Or should I just pour water onto it three times until it all drains out?


Regarding indoor lighting- I have no special lighting for my tree! Is a normal lite bulb going to do the job?

alexinoklahoma
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Indoor lighting requires proper spectra of bulbs. More to learn :-) Incandescent bulbs are a flat no-go; compact-fluoro bulbs or regular fluoro are acceptable *in the right spectra* and not too hard to locate.

I have never been a fan of the toothpick, but some folks say it works. I prefer to just kinda use my eyes/fingers to see if soil is moist. I can usually tell by just looking at it, but that comes with experience. Nothing to fear here. Just don't immerse whole pot - bad idea for a number of reasons that I won't type out right now...do the over-the-soil thing, even three times if it pleases you :-)

Alex

kdodds
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It can take a while to learn what each individual tree needs and the toothpick method is not necessarily the best way. Once you've had the tree for some time, you should be able to judge by the weight and fullness of the pot whether or not it needs water. As moisture is used up or shed, the pot begins to feel more light and hollow. You should not need to water more than twice per week, but misting should be done daily if possible to keep humidity up, or use a humidity tray. If you go to water it "on schedule" and it feels dry, you know next time you need to check sooner. If it's still saturated, skip a day and try again the next. As far as watering from above and submersion go, I do a bit of both. Both have their pros and cons and you can be successful using either, or both.

As far as lighting goes, nothing beats natural light. If you're not able to provide ANY natural light, my suggestion would be to get a lighting fixture and lamp intended for the prupose of growing plants.

miller81
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quick question

Is moss a positive or negitive for the tree? I left the tree out in my living room by a good window and my roommates cats ripped out the moss. (The reason I have to keep it in my room and it doesn't get much sunlight.)

kdodds
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Moss can help to retain moisture, and also be a sort of barometer as to the moisture in the soil. Moss will dry up and brown if not kept pretty much constantly moist. However, surface moisture may not equate to the overall moisture in the soil, especially if you're misting regularly. In this sense it can kind of be seen as a negative. Because you also can't see the soil's surface, many people see it, and any amendments really, as a hindrance. Not to mention that it makes repotting (and relocating the moss) more difficult. For a single tree, no biggie, really, because you're only repotting once every year or two, but when you've got multiple, even many, trees, the quicker you can get things done and the less time you have to spend on individual specimens, the better.

alexinoklahoma
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Moss is typically a big no-no on soil of potted trees but there are a few exceptions. Keeping moss 'healthy' requires a constant moisture which is bad for the tree. It also limits/prevents the fresh air into pot (from watering) which leads to anaerobic areas much*easier - stuff like that for the most part.

Moss is doable when a species appreciates such a soil/moisture-level. Otherwise it is kind of a portent of things to come for the tree ;-)

I would take off the rest of the moss.

Alex

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bonsaiboy
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You should not need to water more than twice per week, but misting should be done daily if possible to keep humidity up, or use a humidity tray
This may or may not be true depending on the type of soil you have. For me, I use a soil on my bonsais that requires watering every day (it consists of screened gravel and screened bark chips). Also, based on personal experiance, one can grow a fuken tea in any window regardless of the direction its facing, and I've read that it can live in an area that only recieves 150 lmns a day (the avarage north window gets about 400). But it still is a good idea to give it supplemental light. Also, did it come with glued down rocks on the surface? If so, pry them off ASAP, and repot it into a better bonsai soil.
הדמיון הוא יותר חשוב מאשר ידע

kdodds
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Not arguing here, just have a question. By all accounts I've read and from what I've experienced, Carmona (Ehretia) is a tree that prefers to never have its soil dry up. Why would you keep a tree that does not like to be dry, ever, in a soil that dries up completely in a day? I can see not wanting to use soils high in organic matter, but why not use pumice or some other water-retaining material?

Agreed on lighting, as I stated originally, any amount of natural light will be fine, but in a room where it is not receiving at least some direct natural light, it should probably be supplemented with artificial light. ;)

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bonsaiboy
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Well, first off, the soil doesn't dry up in a day, it just requires one to water it daily, or almost so :wink: Second, this is just how the soil came when I ordered it, and I'm not saying all bonsais must be planted in this type of soil, or for that matter even recomending it, but it does allow for exellent breathability for the roots.
הדמיון הוא יותר חשוב מאשר ידע

kdodds
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You probably know already, but just in case you don't, and Akadama or other type of "gravel" will alllow for better water retention than non-porous gravel. It still has the same breathability, with a better soil/water/air mixture that allows for less work. Of course, if you enjoy watering daily, or it's one of you principles, that's a moot point. ;) Personally, with two dozen bonsai or bonsai in training or growing out, I find it better for me if I have to water less often. Plus it allowed for a vacation without worries over who'd care for the trees. :)

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For my bonsai's, I layer the soil with Spagnum moss. the Bonsai soil is well draining, but sometimes too draining. I do have a Fukien Tea. My first was a few yearsb ago and i had it fist in a front bay window. it got plenty of sun and was blooming great and was perfect. We moved. Well i did not have the bay window and not really a window sill. The porch i had really did not have the same light set up. I could have put it on the back porch, but I thought keeping it inside at a back window with hardly any light, but some light was fine. NO. the porch had direct light. The tree died from being inside. in the shade. I keep my tree now outside. Well the weather change has me bringing it in. it is on the windowsill. This time of yesr it will bloom a little more, then you will see the berries.

the Spagnum moss layer i literally sqeeze out some moss and put it in between the soil to hold some water and fertilizer at the roots. and do not be afraid to pluck the leaves if it gets too leafy. it is the only tree you can play around with like this all year round. good luck!!!!!
BARBARA MARTIN

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