Growing and Caring for Bonsai Fukien Tea Trees

Introduction to Fukien Tea Trees

The Fukien Tea tree, scientifically known as Carmona retusa or Ehretia microphylla, is a shrub native to the Southeast Asian region, particularly around the Fujian province of China—hence the name. It is loved for its small, shiny, green leaves, and the small, white flowers that can bloom all year round in the right climate. It also produces tiny, red fruit resembling berries. Prized for its appearance and the level of intricacy it allows, the Fukien Tea tree has become a popular choice for bonsai enthusiasts worldwide.

Optimal Growing Conditions

The Fukien Tea tree thrives in warm and humid conditions, mirroring the tropical climate of its native habitat. When grown indoors, they require an abundance of bright, indirect sunlight. An ideal positioning would be in front of a south or west-facing window with some form of diffused light. It is crucial to maintain a consistent temperature range between 60-85 degrees Fahrenheit, ensuring to protect the bonsai from cold drafts and sudden temperature drops which can be harmful.

Soil Requirements and Watering Practices

The soil for a Fukien Tea bonsai should be well-draining yet retain appropriate moisture, as the species is sensitive to both over and under-watering. A mix of akadama, pumice, and fine pine bark in equal proportions makes a suitable soil for this bonsai. Watering should be regular, allowing the soil to slightly dry between waterings. Soft water is preferable, and it’s important to avoid letting the bonsai sit in waterlogged soil to prevent root rot.

Fertilization and Nutrition

Feeding your Fukien Tea Tree bonsai is essential for its growth and blooming. Regular fertilization with a balanced, slow-release bonsai fertilizer during the growing season is recommended. In the winter months, fertilization can be reduced to prevent overfeeding when the bonsai’s growth naturally slows down.

Pruning and Shaping

Pruning is an essential aspect of caring for your bonsai Fukien Tea tree to maintain its shape and promote a more compact growth. New growth should be trimmed regularly, and larger leaves can be pinched out to encourage smaller leaves to develop. Styling and wiring can be done year-round, but be careful with the delicate bark. Pruning can also stimulate the production of flowers, so strategically trimming your bonsai can lead to a delightful display of blossoms.


Younger Fukien Tea bonsais require more frequent repotting, typically every two to three years, while older trees may only need repotting every four to five years. The best time to repot is in the springtime, when the tree is entering its period of active growth. When repotting, it’s a good opportunity to prune the roots. However, only a third of the root mass should be removed to avoid stressing the tree excessively.

Pest and Disease Management

Fukien Tea trees can be susceptible to pests. Common issues include aphids, scale insects, and spider mites. Regular inspections of your bonsai can prevent large infestations. If pests are detected, you can remove them with a soft cloth or a soft brush. In more serious cases, an appropriate insecticidal soap or neem oil treatment may be required. As for diseases, proper maintenance and avoiding over-watering can help prevent most fungal and root problems.


Caring for a bonsai Fukien Tea tree can offer a deeply rewarding experience if the appropriate measures are taken to ensure its health and beauty. With patience and attention to its specific requirements, gardeners are rewarded with a stunning, miniature representation of nature’s grandeur. It is the attention to detail in the day-to-day care and the years of nurturing that makes this intricate hobby a soothing and enriching practice.

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