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The Bonsai Carmona, also called tei of Fukien or Korean tea, is a small evergreen plant, native to China and widespread in the countries of southern Asia. Depending on the size of the foliage, it is present in two varieties: Carmona microphylla and Carmona macrophylla.
BRIEF HISTORY AND CHARACTERISTICS
Today, Carmona arrives in Italy only as bonsai and is particularly appreciated for its proportioned shapes, since the small leaves adapt perfectly to the miniaturized structure of the trunk. However, the shrub can reach in nature even ten meters high and began to be imported into our continent about 150 years ago, mainly in hot countries, for ornamental purposes in the formation of public parks. Especially in the past, the Carmona was also an object of commercial interest due to its timber, which is particularly valuable and suitable for the construction of tools and wheels; currently the plant is used in the Philippines to obtain a replacement tea drink from its leaves.
From the structural point of view, the Carmona bonsai has twisted branches, a gray-brown bark, rough in mature specimens, and small-sized sessile leaves, oval-shaped and dark green, shiny and rough to the touch. In spring it produces small white flowers, characterized by selvedges inflorescences, panicle, and from the chalice to five divisions; at the end of summer it produces small roundish fruits, green at the time of development and which then become red-purple.
EXPOSURE, WATERING AND FERTILIZATION
The Carmona bonsai is found on the market with great ease, but it is a very delicate specimen that needs constant attention and care. Being a shrub of tropical origin, it fears the cold and is suitable for a hot and humid climate, therefore it is identified as an indoor plant. We must not expose it to direct sunlight, nor keep it too close to heaters and heat sources, but it must be placed in a very bright place, where there is a temperature between 15 ° and 24 ° C. From spring onwards it can be placed in the garden or on the terrace, but during the hot season it is good to place it in a sheltered and shaded place.
Water shortage is one of the main causes of Carmone mortality, therefore the bonsai must be watered with abundance and regularity, having care to carry out the operation in the evening hours. Since the apartment tends to be a dry place, you need to make sure that the ground always remains a bit damp and it is advised, on hot days, to spray the leaves with distilled water. However, since the plant does not like stagnant water, it is necessary to keep the drainage under control and not leave stagnant water in the saucer, waiting for the soil to dry between one operation and another. The best technique for watering is undoubtedly the immersion technique, placing the vase in a large basin filled with water up to the edge; being careful not to wet the leaves, the plant must be extracted when the surface of the soil is uniformly moist and left to drain for a few minutes.
To restore the nutrients necessary for proper growth, which tend to run out quickly in the limited amount of soil of a bonsai, in spring and summer, monthly fertilization operations must be carried out, adding liquid fertilizer to the watering water and wetting the soil before performing the operation. However, particular attention must be paid to the doses: an excess of fertilizer could cause the onset of yellowing and spots on the leaves. Should this inconvenience occur, it is advisable to halve the quantity and double the frequency of administration or replace the type of fertilizer, choosing one with slow release.
RENEWAL AND PRUNING
Every two years, at the beginning or at the end of the summer, in order to favor the growth of the capillary roots and correct the conformation of the bonsai, it is necessary to proceed with the transplantation, replacing the vessel and the substart and reducing the mass of the woody roots. Since the Carmona is a flowering plant, the choice of a clay loam, composed of half of universal soil, for 20% of peat and 30% of sand, is particularly suitable.
The most suitable time for pruning is the beginning of spring, but not excessively incisive and stressful interventions can be carried out throughout the year. When making a training pruning, it is necessary to use specific scissors (the Carmona bonsai does not tolerate manual stapling) and, above all, to treat the wounds of the larger branches with healing cream. In any case, the most applied pruning is that of thinning, which aims to eliminate broken branches, disproportionate, or grown in a disordered manner, and shortening the shoots too long.
The pathogens that usually attack the Carmona bonsai are animal parasites such as aphids, mealybugs and red spider, against which it is advisable to act promptly when the first symptoms appear. Since the leaves are particularly sensitive to chemical substances, before using an insecticide it is recommended to act manually or with the aid of a toothbrush, removing insects and stains or incrustations. To prevent the attack of parasites, the vaporization of the foliage with a solution based on pine oil is particularly indicated.