The Fukien tea tree is an evergreen tree that originated in southern China. The leaves are very small, making it ideal for bonsai. The tree's light brown bark cracks attractively with age. In the early summer, this tree flowers with beautiful miniature flowers, which eventually turn in to black berries. The Fukien bonsai does not like temperature variations and must be grown as an indoor bonsai in temperate regions.
Growing From Seed
Remove the moist coating from the Fukien tree fruit. You can easily remove this with your fingers.
Sow the seeds twice as deep as the diameter of the seeds in a moist potting soil.
Water the planted seeds thoroughly and put them in a warm, dark area. The seeds should sprout in one to four weeks.
Harden off the seedlings by putting them in the sun for four hours. Increase the light an hour a day until they are growing well in natural sun.
Allow the seedlings to grow for a year or until the trunk is slightly woody. When the trunk is slightly woody, transplant the tree to a bonsai pot with a good, well drained commercial bonsai soil.
Wire the trunks for shape once they are slightly woody. This will give the bonsai a sense of movement. To wire the trunk, wrap the trunk with aluminum or copper bonsai wire at about a 45 degree to the trunk. The more wraps, the more control you will have over the shape of the trunk. Cut the wire off after several months to prevent scarring the bark.
Prune gently when the trees are young by pinching off new growth.
Wire branches when they are still young and pliable. Mature wood is almost impossible to move using wiring techniques.
Styling on Mature Trees
Style your Fukien tea bonsai primarily through pruning. This tree grows so densely that styling and shaping through pruning is easy. Prune by clipping unwanted branches and leaves with a sharp pair of bonsai clippers or a pair of sharp scissors. You can often simply pinch off young leaves and branches.
Wire the tree only on new, supple growth. Once the wood has formed, Fukien trees are very hard to style via wiring. The wood is very hard and brittle and breaks very easily during wiring.
Plan your styling to hide cuts and wounds. Large wounds and cuts do not heal well in Fukien bonsai, so plan to hide these behind foliage or tree sections.
About this Author
Christopher Earle is a freelance writer based in Denver, Colo. He has been writing since 1987 and has written for NPR, The Associated Press, the Boeing Company, Ford New Holland, Microsoft, Active Voice, RAHCO International and Umax Data Systems. He studied creative writing at Mankato State University in Minnesota.