Serissa – monotype genus of the family Rubiaceae, including the only species of tree-like plants called serissa Japanese (Serissa japonica), or serissa smelly. The homeland of this plant is the forests of China and Indochina, from where it was introduced to the Japanese island of Kyushu. It was Japan that opened the plant to the world, presenting it in the form of an ornamental tree grown using the bonsai technique.
This fact determines the first specific name of the plant. Serissa smelly ( Serissa foetida) it became due to the unpleasant smell of its wood, which appears after damage to the trunk or shoots. In addition, the serissa also has a “popular” name – “The Tree of a Thousand Stars”, given to it for its abundant flowering and small flowers-stars.
According to its life form, serissa belongs to low evergreen shrubs, in nature its height does not exceed 80 cm, and in culture – several tens of centimeters. Plentifully branching shoots with short internodes, forming a dense fluffy crown. Their smooth surface is covered with gray bark, which brightens over time, which gives the plant a high decorative effect. The leaves are rather dense, leathery, dark green, almost petiolate. They grow oppositely, and each new pair is perpendicular to the previous one. The leaf plate is whole-edged, elongated-oval or ovate-lanceolate, 15 – 17 mm long and 6 – 8 mm wide.
Justifying its characteristic of a star tree, serissa is able to bloom throughout the year, but especially strongly – from early spring to early autumn. The flowers are single, apical, although due to the many short shoots, it seems that they bloom along the entire branch. Pedicels are absent and bright pink buds appear right in the axils of the leaves, opening with white flowers. Corollas 4-6 petals, tubular, about 1 cm in diameter. The shape of the petals is quite original, each of them ends in a kind of trident, in which two lateral teeth are small and rounded, and the central one is large and triangular-pointed.
Breeders have bred a variety of serissa varieties, among which the most popular is ‘ Variegata ‘, with a thin white edge of a dark green leaf. In addition to such variegation, ‘ Pink Snow Rose ‘ also has pink flowers. In addition, there are varieties with golden leaves and double flowers.
Serissa care at home
Serissa cannot be called a plant for beginner flower growers, as it is quite capricious and requires a lot of attention. When growing it in an apartment, you should adhere to the recommendations below.
Throughout the year, the tree needs bright lighting, but cannot stand the direct midday sun rays. When placing it, the windows of the western or eastern directions will be the best option. Although here, from October to March, it will need additional supplementary lighting with phytolamps, otherwise it will not only stop blooming, but also partially shed its leaves.
It should be noted that one of the difficulties in growing serissa is its sensitivity to changes in the light source and direction to it. It is undesirable to often move or rearrange from place to place. She will react to such actions by shedding buds and leaves.
In summer, the plant feels comfortable at moderate temperatures, ranging from 20 to 25 ° C. In winter, he needs to provide a cooler content, but not overdo it. Although the tree can withstand short-term exposure to negative temperatures (up to minus 5 ° C), it is better not to allow the thermometer to fall below +10 ° C.
From mid-spring to the beginning of the autumn cold, it is advisable to keep the serissa in the fresh air – on the balcony or in the garden.
Serissa is very sensitive to watering regime. She does not tolerate both waterlogging and overdrying. In order not to be mistaken in this point, one should focus on the state of the earthen coma: as soon as its top layer dries out a little, the soil should again be abundantly moistened, while avoiding stagnation of water.
The tree requires high air humidity, which can be increased by regular spraying, placing small containers of water or indoor fountains next to the plant. The best option would be to use household steam generators, especially during dry and hot seasons.
It is one of the few plants that tolerate formative pruning well. This property of serissa served, in particular, its popularity for creating compositions in the bonsai style.
Loose, nutritious, neutral soils are suitable for growing serissa. Experienced flower growers recommend the following composition: clay-sod, peat soil, coarse river sand, taken in a ratio of 1: 1: 2. At the bottom of the pot, it is imperative to form a good drainage layer of expanded clay, which protects the soil from waterlogging.
The plant accepts well the slow-acting fertilizers for Saintpaulias (in the form of “sticks”). You can also use complex fertilizers for flowering plants, diluted 4 times relative to the recommended rate.
From spring to the end of summer, feeding is carried out every two weeks. In autumn and winter, with cool and dark content, they are stopped. However, if additional lighting is used, and the tree continues to bloom, it is fertilized according to the previous scheme.
Serissa is transplanted every 2 – 3 years in early spring. If the roots are too overgrown to fit in the pot, they are pruned slightly. As the experience of connoisseurs of the bonsai style shows, this procedure does not do much harm to the plant itself,
Is carried out by non-lignified cuttings, on which the apical parts of the shoots with 3 internodes are cut in the spring. The cut branches are rooted in the prepared substrate using mini-greenhouses with bottom heating.
Pests and diseases.
The main pest is the whitefly. To combat it, it is enough to thoroughly rinse the crown of the tree under a warm (about 45 ° C) shower. If this measure does not help, the plant is treated with Aktara, Confidor, Aktellik or other chemicals of a similar effect.
Of the diseases, the most common and dangerous are root rot. Their development is facilitated by the constant waterlogging of the soil. For the same reason, the leaves of the tree begin to turn black.
In addition, due to too dry air or insufficient watering, heat or cold, moving the pot with the plant to another place, the serissa loses its leaves.