Serissa?

talumirage

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Don't really know if I'm right in putting this thread here, admin- please move/delete if incorrect. I've recently rescued a Serissa (approx. 8years) from a non-specialist store and it was truly a mercy mission! Quick rundown, there was a lot of yellowing of the leaves which I just let drop off in their own time, congested soil, absolutely covered with fallen leaves, bits of twig (some of which weren't even my Serissa's!) and most disturbingly, small (3-5mm ish) brown slugs! Yuck! I picked off the slugs, tidied the soil and gave it a misting and now it's looking healthier. A day after I bought it, a single bud appeared, and yesterday it bloomed! I think it likes me :D

Anyway, back on to the point, how can I keep my salvaged Serissa happy and healthy? I know the basics of bonsai care, but are there any special requirements for Serissa? I've heard they're quite sulky if you make a mistake and shed leaves left right and centre!

Also, one leaf that had yellowed had brown/black dots on when none of the others did. Does this sound like some kind of pest or anything serious?

Thanks for your help in advance!

"*"
 

talumirage

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I managed to get a picture of the leaf in question, so here it is! I hope someone knows if it's something to worry about or not!


"*"
 

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Mmmm... slugs :) I used to like them when my kids found them interesting. Slugs and snails. And then they got HUGE and started eating my roses. So the slugs had to go :)

Serissas are really nice plants but can be tricky if you aren't careful. The most important thing to consider with serissas is that they aren't trees but are woody shrubs, and their roots aren't as robust as a tree's. They will need more loamy soil than a typical "tree" bonsai, but it has to drain well or the roots will rot. I tend to think of them like azaleas.

Serissa leaves will yellow and drop for a lot of reasons, including (1) change of environment (lower lighting and/or lower humidity) (2) root problems (rot) (3) fungus (4) soil problems (not enough iron / too alkaline). You have to study the tree to best determine the cause and the solution. With serissas, it is often root problems or fungus, simply because most serissas are kept indoors where watering, humidity, and air movement can be challenging to provide. If only one part of the tree is yellowing (one side, or one branch) it may be root rot. If the yellowing appears to affect the entire tree (especially the interior leaves) and is accompanied by visible blotches on the leaves, it is probably fungus.

Here is what I would recommed:

1) Gently slip the tree out of the pot without disturbing the roots too much. Investigate the roots and the soil. Is the soil caked into one hard ball? Is the tree root-bound (roots in a tight ball)? Are there noticeable areas of dead (dark brown, mushy) roots? If so, you may have to repot even though this is not the best season.

1a) If you need to repot be very gentle. Start by soaking the entire root ball in a vitamin B-1 solution. Gently work the roots loose and eliminate the old soil. Remove all dead roots, and cut back long roots. Be especially gentle around the fine roots around and just beneath the base of the trunk. Repot using a planting mixture that has a high amount of organic material and yet drains well. I would also add a little peat moss to the mix.

2) Spray the entire plant with a general fungicide. Use half strength to what is typically recommended.

3) If you did not need tp repot, fertilize the tree with a half-strength liquid acid fertilizer (Miracle-Gro Acid) AFTER you have first thoroughly watered the plant.

4) Do not constantly trim the plant. Let it grow for a couple of months and get nice and leafy green, then start pinching back growth or trimming. If you constantly pinch and trim the plant will not flower much (if at all).

5) Put serissa in a sunny open location where air moves. Keep soil moist but make sure it drains well! Do not use humidity tray unless the tips of the leaves turn brown (even then be careful that serrisa does not sit in the water - but sits ABOVE the water).

Good luck!

P.S. I almost forgot. One thing slugs need is damp, moist locations. These places tend to also breed fungus.
 

talumirage

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Thanks for your help! I'm keeping a log book about my bonsai, important info, etc so I'll jot that down in it somewhere!

I've only noticed the one yellow leaf with spots, the rest have just been drying up-y yellow (if that makes sense?). To make matters worse, I think I just spotted a lone aphid on my flower! But my eyes aren't so hot without specs, so I could be imagining it. The plant looks generally ok now that it's in my tender loving (smothering?) care.
Here it is, getting better. Any ideas where to go with it? I'm definitely going to thin out some of those tiny branches. Going for a moyogi sort of thing I think.


Oh, before I forget, is there any way to get rid of/hide/disguise bad wiring scars, as that's another problem the poor thing has!

Thanks again!
"*"
 

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What sort of light is it getting? From the look of the plant, it appears to be growing leggier and thinner than I would normally want to see. The foilage should be dark green and really compact. Here is a serissa selling on eBay as an example:

 

talumirage

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I don't know what kind of light it's used to- artificial shop lighting for 8hours a day then darkness I presume. I'm moving it around the room, following the sun so it has a chance to get at least a paltry few hours of sunlight a day. But, since I'm in the grip of a British winter... :D
 

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Well don't wear a path in your carpeting :)

Even a couple of hours of sunlight a day will make a difference. Since it is indoors, keep it in the brightest light you can provide. Maybe make a small shelf so it can sit by the window? (Be careful it doesn't get too cold if you don't have insulated windows) You will notice a dramatic difference in the darkness of the leaves, and you will get much more interior growth.

As for wiring scars... the only thing that will help is time. Also, if there is a branch located next to a wiring scar, don't remove the branch because it will help accelerate the healing process.
 

talumirage

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Thanks for the help! I don't think it'll be going too near the window- victorian house, no double glazing/insulation :( And the outside windowsill is the domain of my cotoneaster- I wouldn't want it to get jealous! :D
 

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