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How to care for Serissa as bonsai

Larry Morton

Posted on February 08 2019

Sometimes called Snow Rose or Tree of a Thousand Stars, Serissa takes direct sun or part shade. It also takes drought so don't leave it permanently wet. You'll find it doesn't like to be moved from site to site. Consistent care is the key to longevity. Leave it in the same place if the leaves stay on and it looks healthy. They don't like to inside near a drafty window. Drooping new foliage and dry looking substrate usually means its watering time. Excess water and insufficient light levels also contribute to leaf drop. Don't panic. New thinner shade leaves soon replace the previous foliage. Install a supplemental grow light if trying to keep it happy indoors. Add fertilizer only if it has current new growth. Don't water every single day. Green leaf varieties tend to be more cold tolerant than the variegated. Allow it to have a dormant period. May tolerate a small pot but thrives much better in a deep training pot. We grow both variegated and green leaf varieties outside year round in hardiness zone 7B and 8. Follow existing trunk growth pattern when pruning. Pull suckers off, include a small root with the stem and plant your new Serissa.

  • Serrisa grows more spherical but looks great flat-topped and  either multi or single trunk. Will shape easily. Buds back readily.
  • Fast growing to 2ft tall.
  • The gray trunk turns more whitish and gnarled with age. 
  • Fine textured evergreen shrub. The variegated leaf type is very popular.
  • Small white flowers in May-June and sporadically thereafter. The double flowered Serrisa are usually called Snow Rose. The single flowering varieties are usually called Tree of a Thousand Stars. The flowers won't last long with soggy wet feet.
  • Interesting with partially exposed roots. Cuttings easily root anytime. Good horticultural practices translate to healthy bonsai that increase in value with time.
  • Hardiness Zone 2-8. Subtropical. OK if it drops some foliage during winter if kept outside a few degrees below freezing.
  • Variegata has an ivory colored leaf edge.
  • The Kyoto Serissa has single, white, trumpet-shaped flowers that sporadically rebloom. It has tiny dark green leaves and is a dwarf. 

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