Sageretia are tender shrubs native to Asia and warmer areas of North America. Extensively grown in China for use as bonsai, Sageretias are evergreen in milder climates but become deciduous in temperate zones when exposed to the cold of winter. Sageretias will survive temperatures just below freezing but it is highly recommended to keep them in conditions that rarely drop below around 10°C to keep them in continual growth. For most parts of Europe and North America this means growing Sageretias indoors from around September to May.
Sageretias have symmetrically arranged shiny, oval mid-green leaves to 1.5cm long, young growth is reddish in colour before it matures. The bark quickly becomes scaly and is a dark-brown in colour. In Summer tiny flowers appear in the leaf axils of new shoots and produce large clusters of white followed by small blue berries. Sageretias are slow to form thick trunks and have very fine formative growth; thick-trunked specimens tend to be imported from China where they are field grown.
BONSAI CULTIVATION NOTES
POSITION: Good light but out of full sun. Grow outdoors when night-time temperatures will not drop below 5-6°C (between May and September in Northern Europe). Indoors, Sageretias need a position that is reasonably humid so a humidity/gravel tray is necessary and should be allowed to cool at night, in for instance an unheated room. Sageretia dislike permanent heat throughout the day as much as they dislike very cold temperatures. Position in good light but do not expose to direct afternoon sunlight when behind glass to avoid scorching.
FEEDING: Every two weeks in Summer, monthly in Winter when in active growth.
REPOTTING: Every two years in Spring, use a basic soil mix.
PRUNING: Trim to shape throughout the growing season. Sageretia back bud very easily and produce very dense new growth so can be shaped by selective pruning and wiring can be avoided. Allow young plants to extend 10-15cm before pruning back to shape to allow the trunk to thicken. Mature, thick-trunked specimens can be pruned earlier.
PROPAGATION: Softwood and hardwood cuttings root easily throughout the growing season. Sageretia are very rarely seen for sale in Garden Centres and only tend to be offered for sale through bonsai retailers.
PESTS AND DISEASES: Can be affected by aphids and whitefly particularly when grown under glass. If affected by mildew, do not lower humidity levels but increase air circulation.
STYLING: Suitable for all forms and sizes.