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Bought Mallsai Fukien Tea...Now what?

I am a college student and have always wanted to grow a bonsai tree ever since I was little. Today, while shopping at Walmart, I saw one for only $10, so I couldn't resist. Once I got back to my apartment, I decided to do some research on the species I purchased, Fukien Tea. After browsing the internet for a few minutes, I quickly realized, to my disappointment, that I had purchased a Mallsai.

I know many of you in the bonsai community look down on the Mallsai. However, had I known that's what I was getting myself into when I was buying this tree, I would have waited a few years until I graduated college and saved the money to go to an actual bonsai nursery instead. Regardless, I want to learn more about bonsai, and this is apparently how I'm going to get my start.

I read that I need to remove the glued rocks and moss, which I have done. I also clipped some of the new flowers to help reduce stress on the tree. What are some other steps that I should take to help my tree survive?

Thank you so much for reading this and helping me out.

Greener Thumb
Posts: 1436
Joined: Thu Mar 06, 2008 7:07 pm
Location: Airmont, NY Zone 6/7

Put it outside before it dies and set up a terrarium for it to winter in before it has to come in from the cold.

Senior Member
Posts: 134
Joined: Tue Jul 19, 2011 9:57 pm
Location: Indianapolis IN

If you can not provide A LOT of artificial light for it, then it should go outside while it's warm, but once it starts getting cold, it will need to go indoors.

I too bought a Fukien Tea Tree from walmart few months ago, but I've repotted mine since then, and now I'm considering doing an air layer to get rid of the "S" trunk.

My tree is very happy, I've read a lot of negative things about how that tree is NOT good for indoors or beginners, but so far I have had 0 issues with growing it. But, soon all my indoor trees will be going outside.

Before my walmart mallsai was re-potted, it was in peat looking soil, and I only had to water it about once a week, sometimes even 8 or 9 days.

good luck with it!

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Super Green Thumb
Posts: 25279
Joined: Sun Feb 15, 2009 6:04 pm
Location: TN/GA 7b

Don't be too hard on yourself for the "mallsai." It was affordable and got you a tree that you can learn some things on. Why not do that? Later you will be able to get yourself better material - perhaps by buying better started trees from reputable dealers or perhaps by being able to collect wild trees. Your next step might be to look in to pre-bonsai. These are young trees that have had an initial shaping and are in nursery pots. They are sold by actual bonsai nurseries, so they have had better care, but are still pretty affordable, nice ones in the $15 -45 range.

one e.g. of a place that sells bonsai-in-training: [url=]pre-bonsai trees[/url]

The main trouble with the mallsai is that being factory produced and not well cared for, stuffed into a bonsai pot with probably inappropriate soil (+ the glued on rocks, but you already took care of that) they don't always have a very long lifespan. But beginners often lose trees anyway, might as well lose a very inexpensive one. You would kick yourself if you bought a beautiful $400 bonsai and it died because you don't have experience just trying to keep a tree alive.

So enjoy your little mallsai, have fun learning a bit with it and later try something a little more creative.

Greener Thumb
Posts: 1436
Joined: Thu Mar 06, 2008 7:07 pm
Location: Airmont, NY Zone 6/7

So true. I still have a "mallsai" that was purchased for me as a gift about 10 years ago. It was basically a "stick in a pot", like most mallsai, when I got it. I haven't even changed the style, much anyway. It's nowhere near my favorite tree, but my wife likes it a lot. And, really, that's what matters in the end, whether or not you like it. Unfortunately, yours is a Fukien Tea, which makes keeping it alive kind of the priority. You can still get mallsai Ficus retusa (non-Ginseng), which are very easy to keep inside. Or, you can try your hand at Baby Jade, Portulacaria afra, possibly the easiest species of all to work with.

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