The Carmona, also called the Fukien Tea, was named after the province Fukien in Chinese Fujian. Carmonas are indigenous to China, Japan, Taiwan, Indonesia, and Australia. More recently these trees have become popular bonsai trees in Western countries. These trees are not recommended for beginners. Cultivation, maintenance, and pruning can prove to be quite difficult, but if you are up for a bit of a challenge, the reward is a beautiful tree.
Characteristics of Carmonas
The Fukien Tea tree’s trunk starts out very thin, which is not typically desired for bonsai growing. With these trees, however, the trunk thickens as it ages, which is perfect for growing a bonsai. Trunks on Carmona trees are light brown in youth, and age into a light gray color. These evergreen trees bloom quite frequently.
Tiny dark green leaves are covered in hairs on the underside of the leaf and white dots on the top. The leaves maintain their shape as the tree grows, and they make thick foliage. When the tree blooms, small white flowers grow. The tree will bloom once a month if cared for properly. As the blooms age, tiny round fruits will appear in red, green, or black.
How to Care for Your Carmona
While the specific makeup of soil does not matter to these trees, it is crucial that you provide a well-draining soil. One big problem often found in Carmonas is that the roots are rotting because of soggy, compact soil. Carmonas do not like constantly damp soil; instead, they prefer moist or slightly dry soil. If you notice the leaves of your plant are shriveled up, your tree is likely under-watered. These trees like gentle sunlight, not a lot of direct sunlight.
Fukien Tea bonsai are indoor bonsai. They will only survive outdoors in very warm climates since they are tropical trees. Place your tree directly in front of a south facing window or wherever it will receive the most light. Any temperatures under 68 degrees Fahrenheit are undesirable. These trees also prefer high humidity, which can be a problem indoors, especially if you use air conditioning or heaters. You can increase the plant’s humidity levels by placing a humidity tray filled with water or wet gravel under the plant’s pot.
Carmonas are quite picky when it comes to water. Constant moisture and total dryness are both undesirable for these trees. Water generously as soon as the soil gets slightly dry. A well-draining soil will help combat over-watering.
Feed Carmonas with an organic, solid fertilizer because their roots are very sensitive. Carefully measured liquid fertilizer can be applied to moist soil instead. Feed during the tree’s growth period, from spring to autumn, as often as the directions suggest.
These trees take pruning and trimming very well. If a dense branch structure is desired, you can trim the tree regularly. The easiest branches to wire or trim are young, flexible shoots. Older branches are brittle and hard, so use caution when dealing with these branches. Wiring is rarely necessary for Fukien Tea trees, but it can be done.
Diseases and Pests
Under proper care, Carmona trees shouldn’t have many health problems. When not properly taken care of, your tree may suffer from scale, whiteflies, and spider mites. Insecticide sticks and sprays will briefly rid your tree of pests, but to really tackle the problem, you must improve the tree’s living conditions. Chlorosis may occur when watering with hard water, but can be treated with iron fertilizer. Fungal infections are very rare.
While not recommended for beginners, these trees are beautiful bonsai trees. Carmona trees need lots of sunlight indoors, but do not like more than an hour of direct sunlight when placed outside. Water when the tree’s soil gets dry, and no more than that. It is acceptable if you go a day or two without the tree being watered. Use an organic fertilizer throughout the growth season, and apply less in the winter. Do not hesitate to prune these trees, as they respond very well to it, but wiring is often unnecessary. With proper care, your tree should be free of pests and diseases and will live a long life!