Flowering White Serissa is better known as Tree of a Thousand Stars

Flowering White Serissa is an evergreen or semi-evergreen flowering shrub that grows to a height of 45-60 cm. It is native to Southeast Asia and is found commonly in India, China and Japan. It grows in wet meadows and open sub-tropical woodlands. It belongs to the genus Rubiaceae, which has only one species, Serissa Foetida. It is commonly called Snowrose and is also referred to as Serissa Japonica.    

It has a profusion of small trumpet-shaped white flowers, because of which it is called “Tree of a Thousand Stars”. The flowers, which have 4 to 6 lobes, appear first as pink buds and then grow into white flowers. The green leaves are long, oval and shiny. The plant also has air roots.

It is a hardy plant and is easy to care for. It needs regular watering and trimming. Fertilization is required, especially in the flowering period. With the right conditions it can flower continuously, though there are more flowers from spring to autumn.

There is only one species in the genus. You can also find cultivars with variegated leaves, or double flowers. The “Pink Snow Rose” has pale pink flowers and leaves with off-white edges. Some of the other cultivars are Pink Mystic, Snowleaves, Snowflake, Mt Fuji, Kyoto, Sapporo, Variegated Pink and Variegata.

Serissa is popular as bonsai, because of its gnarled trunk, naturally small leaves and tiny flowers. It grows fast and needs regular pruning to maintain its shape. Fading flowers need to be removed, to encourage the appearance of new blooms. It can be wired during the growing period.

It is suitable for all styles, except broom and upright. It needs 1000 Lux of light, if it is kept indoors. Glow lamps can be used for 12 hours every day. Insufficient light can cause leggy growth.

Serissa is among the most common bonsais, especially in Japan. It is not difficult to maintain it as bonsai, though it can be quite sensitive. It is likely to shed its leaves, if it is watered too much or too little, or if the temperature is too high or too low. It may lose its leaves, if it is moved to another location, though it usually regains its health as the conditions improve.

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