Tree of a Thousand Stars

SERISSA FOETIDA... many varieties, most common used are Chinese Snow Rose, Cherry Blossom, Kyoto, Mt.Fuji and Thousand Stars. They have been given an unjustified bad reputation, mainly because they were grown under the wrong conditions. They have small leaves, textured bark, they flower, are easily trained, and ramify quickly. My gosh, they sound like the perfect tree. My favorites are Thousand Stars for larger trees and Kyoto for great little mame or shohin.

 PRUNE... A Serissa responds well to severe top and root pruning, although it will cause them to root sucker, this will subside the longer the tree has been potted. They do well with directional pruning and create nice ramification. Prune back to the second node for they tend to elongate after that. Let them grow out some in summer to reduce heat stress, then prune back in early fall.

 TRAINING... A Serissa can be wired and branches are fairly flexible. You can get quite a bit of movement even in old and heavy branches. Bring them back to a trunk line and some main branches (if possible) in initial styling, with their quick growth a nicely ramified tree can be accomplished in 2-3 years.

 WATERING... This is one of the keys in growing a Serissa, they strongly dislike continually wet roots, it will cause the leaves to turn yellow and fall off, hence how they got their bad reputation. With our afternoon rains that is sometimes hard to avoid. Best case in the summer is water every morning and have the trees go into night somewhat on the dry side. Letting them dry down between waterings is important. If you suffer heat stress with this schedule, then also water “soil only” in the heat of the day. They actively grow in the winter here so water accordingly.

 FERTILIZE... The other key is avoid heat stress. Mt.Fuji and Snow Rose especially tend to heat stress, besides your normal fertilization a supplement of nitrogen well help. I alternate use of Ironite and fish emulsion through the summer. I also found that magnesium (Epsom Salt in 2 tbls per gallon of water) will help the plant more readily absorb nutrients.

 LIGHT... A Serissa likes as much sun as you can give it without stressing it. In summer I give them morning sun and then high filtered light from noon on. Thousand Star, when I want it to develop, I will grow in full sun. In winter, full sun. If your leaves are yellowing and you are watering correctly, it’s heat stress, move to more shade. They can be grown in just high filtered light.

 REPOT... I have repotted year round except in severe cold. They are fast growers and don’t like to be root bound so you may have to repot your younger trees every year, older ones every 2 years. They prefer fast draining soil so I use 25% organics in my soil mix.

 SEASONAL... Can handle cold down to 25 degrees. Protect from heavy frost to prevent tip burn. Fastest growth in spring, fall, and first half of winter, slowest mid-summer.

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