Fukien Tea Tree (Carmona retusa)

Fukien Tea Tree (Carmona retusa) is a popular choice for bonsai enthusiasts due to its small leaves, white flowers, and ability to tolerate indoor conditions. Here's a care guide specifically tailored to the UK climate:

1. Location:

  • Indoors: Fukien Tea Trees are best kept indoors in the UK, especially during colder months.
  • Outdoor Summer: If your climate allows, you can place your bonsai outdoors during the warmer months, but be cautious of cold snaps.

2. Light:

  • Indoors: Place your bonsai in a bright location, but avoid direct sunlight during the hottest parts of the day.
  • Outdoors: Provide filtered sunlight to prevent leaf burn.

3. Temperature:

  • Fukien Tea Trees prefer warm temperatures between 18-24°C (65-75°F). Protect them from cold drafts and sudden temperature changes.
  • If outdoors during summer, bring it indoors if the temperature drops below 10°C (50°F).

4. Humidity:

  • These trees enjoy higher humidity levels. In the UK's drier indoor conditions, mist the leaves regularly or use a humidity tray.

5. Watering:

  • Keep the soil consistently moist, but not waterlogged. Water when the top inch of soil feels slightly dry.
  • Use a well-draining bonsai soil mix. Rainwater or filtered tap water is best to avoid high mineral content.

6. Fertilization:

  • Feed with a balanced, water-soluble bonsai fertilizer during the growing season (spring to early autumn) every 2-4 weeks. Reduce frequency in winter.
  • Dilute the fertilizer to half the recommended strength to avoid over-fertilization.

7. Pruning and Trimming:

  • Regular pruning is necessary to maintain the desired shape and size of your bonsai. Pinch back new growth to promote branching.
  • Remove any dead or yellowing leaves to maintain the tree's appearance.

8. Wiring:

  • Wiring can be done in spring or early summer when the branches are still young and flexible. Be gentle to avoid damaging the bark.

9. Repotting:

  • Repot every 2-3 years, preferably in spring. Use a bonsai soil mix that drains well.
  • Prune back some of the roots during repotting to maintain the tree's size and health.

10. Pests and Diseases:

  • Keep an eye out for pests like aphids, spider mites, and scale insects. Treat promptly with insecticidal soap or neem oil.
  • Good air circulation and proper watering practices can help prevent fungal issues.

Remember that each bonsai tree is unique, and adjustments to care might be needed based on the specific conditions of your home and climate. Regular observation and attention to your Fukien Tea Tree's needs will help it thrive as a beautiful bonsai in the UK.