Bonsai Carmona, care and characteristics

Carmona Bonsai, also known as Hokkien tea or Korean tea, is a small evergreen plant native to China and common in South Asian countries. Depending on the size of the leaves, it comes in two varieties: Carmona microphylla and Carmona macrophylla.

The Carmona, which today only arrives in Italy as a bonsai, is particularly appreciated for its proportionate shape, as the small leaves adapt perfectly to the miniaturized structure of the tree trunk. However, this shrub, which can reach ten meters in nature, began to be imported into our continent about 150 years ago, mainly in hot countries, for ornamental purposes to form parks. Especially in the past Carmona was also an object of commercial interest, as its wood was particularly valuable, suitable for the manufacture of tools and wheels; Currently this plant is used in the Philippines to obtain a drink to replace tea in tea leaves.

Structurally, Carmona bonsai has twisted branches, grey-brown bark, mature specimens rough, small, sessile, oval, dark green leaves, glossy and rough to the touch. In spring it produces small white flowers in a fringed panicle inflorescence with a five-lobed calyx; in late summer it bears small round fruits that develop a green color and then turn red-purple.


The Carmona bonsai is easy to find on the market, but it is a very delicate specimen that requires constant attention and care. It is a tropical shrub, it can stand the cold and is suitable for hot and humid climates, for this reason it is recognized as an indoor plant. It should not be exposed to direct sunlight or too close to stoves and heat sources, but should be placed in a very bright place with a temperature between 15° and 24°C. It can be placed in the garden or patio from spring, but is best placed in a sheltered, shaded area during warm weather. Lack of water is one of the main causes of death of carmonies, therefore bonsai should be watered abundantly, on a regular basis. Beware of surgeries at night. As apartments tend to be a dry place and you need to make sure the soil is always a little damp, it is recommended that you spray the foliage with distilled water on hot days. However, as plants don’t like standing water, you need to check drainage, not leaving standing water in the pot, waiting for the soil to dry out between plantings. The best irrigation technique is undoubtedly the immersion one, placing the pot in a large vase filled with water up to the edge; paying attention not to wet the leaves, when the surface of the soil is uniformly humid, the plant is to be extracted and left to drain a few times a minute.

To restore the nutrients necessary for proper growth, which tend to be depleted quickly in limited bonsai soil, monthly fertilizing interventions are necessary during spring and summer. Add liquid fertilizer to water to irrigate and moisten the soil before proceeding . However, particular attention should be paid to the dosage: too much fertilizer can cause yellowing and speckles of the leaves. If this problem occurs, it is recommended to halve the dose and increase the frequency of application or change the type of fertilizer and choose a slow release fertilizer.


Carmona, like all plants, needs light, lots of light. They obtain energy from light through photosynthesis. At the same time, they consume energy through metabolism. Metabolism is particularly high at high temperatures

A change of position can alter the supply of light, especially in indoor bonsai. They come from a light greenhouse and, after being sold, were moved to a modest and considerably darker apartment. In autumn and winter, the temperature in the apartment is often warmer than in the greenhouse

This creates a problem for indoor bonsai: metabolism leads to high energy consumption, while insufficient light leads to low energy production

For this Carmona lost the leaves of the crown

How can you help your Carmona bonsai? Place your indoor bonsai in a bright and cool place, especially during the dark season. Bright means “as bright as possible”, i.e. placed directly on the window


Every two years, at the beginning or end of summer, to encourage the growth of the capillary roots and correct the shape of the bonsai, it is necessary to carry out transplants, replace pots and substrates, and reduce the mass of woody roots. Carmona is a flowering plant and is particularly suited to choosing clay, which is half all-purpose soil, 20% peat and 30% sand. The best time to prune is early spring, but don’t be too abrupt, stress relievers are available year-round.

When performing training pruning, it is necessary to use specific scissors (the Carmona bonsai does not tolerate manual pinching) and, above all, to apply a healing cream on the wounds of the largest branches

In any case, the most common form of pruning is thinning to remove broken, disproportionate and excessively long shoots.


The pathogens that commonly attack Carmona bonsai are animal parasites such as aphids, scale insects and red spider mites and immediate action is recommended at the first symptom. Since the leaves are particularly sensitive to chemical agents, it is advisable to remove insects and stains or encrustations by hand or with the aid of a toothbrush before applying insecticides. To prevent pest infestation, it is particularly recommended to use a pine oil solution to evaporate the leaves.

The price of the Carmona bonsai is around 15-20 euros.