Real tea bush on the windowsill
The temptation to grow independently a small but valuable crop of fruits, berries or spices is the main reason for the popularity of indoor fruit-bearing plants. While laurels, citrus fruits and pomegranates with coffee hold the lead in popularity, more and more flower growers decide to have a real tea bush on the windowsill. Even a rather sophisticated technique of drying tea leaves and exactingness to the growing conditions do not scare away from growing your own varietal tea. After all, the annual harvest of young leaves is an exclusive and precious treasure that you really want to enjoy. And the decorativeness of compact bushes is able to compete with true indoor stars.
- Chinese and not only indoor tea
- Variety of indoor tea
- Conditions for growing indoor tea bushes
- Tea Care at Home
- Diseases, pests and growing problems
- Propagation of indoor tea
Chinese and not only indoor tea
Many indoor plants are compared with tea bushes. But the authentic tea is not in the form of dried leaves, brewed for your favorite tea parties, few have seen. The appearance of indoor tea in the list of the main trends of recent years was a kind of surprise. Of course, the growing trend in the popularity of fruit and healthy plants has been observed for a long time, but the transition of tea to the category of potted stars also became not quite expected.
Tea bushes have always been considered demanding plants that can only be grown in a specific climate and soil. But you can recreate the conditions for them in the format of a limited amount of substrate in a cache-pot.
An authentic tea that gives a harvest of those same leaves, without which it is difficult to imagine modern life - a plant that is easily recognizable. Tea is cultivated in countries with a tropical and subtropical climate. Today, it has spread far beyond the natural range of its wild ancestors and is found in Asia, Africa and both Americas.
Tea got its name only in the 18th century, with the light hand of the legendary Karl Linnaeus, who gave tea the name of the goddess Thea. The old botanical name of the plant, consonant with the English “tea”, is still the most popular, and it is used in relation to tea bushes and a drink from tea leaves, despite the fact that officially all plants of the Tea genus have long been re-qualified.
Varieties of tea are included in a larger sisterhood - clan Camellia (Camellia).
Tea - evergreen shrubs or trees and semi-trees with a pronounced strain, forming a dense, fairly dense crown. The leaves are replaced annually, "dumping" in the spring, which does not prevent the plant from maintaining a stable decorative effect.
In nature, the height of the tea bush ranges from 2 to more than 10 m, in room culture it is a maximum meter plant (and it is much more compact if it is regularly formed).
In small-leaved tea, the leaves are medium-sized, up to 4-8 cm in length, sit on small petioles, in large-leaved tea - up to 20 cm in length, long-leaved. In any tea, the leaves are arranged in the next order, of an ideal oval shape with a narrowed, pointed tip. The edge of the leaves of the tea bush is fine-toothed. Small-leaved varieties are characterized by an interesting silver pubescence and a colored, anthocyanin color of young leaves, which they lose soon after blooming.
Despite the fact that tea is valued for its leaves, the plant blooms at a considerable age even in room conditions. Fragrant, delicate, white-cream or light pink flowers sit in small bunches of 2 or 4 pieces and flaunt a very lush center of stamens in a cup of round petals. After flowering the tea bush, multi-leaved, dark green fruit boxes are tied, which gradually turn brown. Typically, the fruits of tea ripen only next year. Indoor tea has full fruiting, but not plentiful.
Variety of indoor tea
Former members of the genus Tea (Thea) are included in the large genus Camellia (Camellia) and represent the eponymous Tea family (Theaceae) along with another 22 genera of related plants. Teas are amazingly diverse plants. The genus includes more than three hundred plant species, but it is very difficult to get confused in the room assortment, because all the tea bushes grown in pots are Chinese camellia, or Chinese tea (Camellia sinensis, synonym Thea sinensis) and its various forms, hybrids and varieties, differing in taste.
Indian and other types of tea are not grown in the rooms.
When choosing indoor tea, you need to focus on your tea tastes, because varieties and varieties include the most popular options - from the legendary Yunnan to Assam, Ceylon tea, Shan, burmese, etc.
All indoor teas are conditionally divided into southern and northern varieties:
- small-leaved, or Northern tea - these are shrubs of compact size, with leaves from 4 to 8 cm long with a small petiole, narrowed apex, sharp-toothed edge, which can be easily recognized by the purple color of young leaves with a silver edge;
- leafy or southern tea - Saplings with slender trunks and a dense crown, larger plants with a pronounced bole and large leaves up to 20 cm long with long cuttings and the usual green color of unspoiled young leaves.
Conditions for growing indoor tea bushes
Demonstrating enviable talents for adapting to lighting, tea bushes, however, require very careful selection of conditions in the rooms. It is difficult for them not only to find the correct temperature conditions, but also to satisfy the need for fresh air and light dependence.
Lighting and placement
Despite its reputation, tea is a fairly shade-tolerant culture. In the rooms he feels well, not only on the windowsills, but also inside the bright rooms. For Chinese camellia, the eastern and western window sills or a place similar in intensity to lighting are considered ideal. The plant does not like direct sunlight.
Tea bushes are light dependent, they need to be regularly turned in relation to a light source. During budding and flowering of the tea bush, any rearrangement of the plant, including rotation, will lead to partial or complete dropping of the buds.
Temperature and ventilation
The need for a cool winter is considered the most difficult moment in growing tea at home. But in fact, tea bushes do not have to be moved to the cold so that plants can go through a full dormant period. Ideally, the tea is kept cool at a temperature of +8 to +12 degrees. But it will be able to winter the plant at ordinary room temperatures (however, with a warm wintering, it will be necessary to adjust the care and dramatically increase the air humidity).
During the period of active growth, Chinese camellia is content with typical "residential" temperatures. It is desirable that the indicators do not go beyond 20-25 degrees of heat. In the heat, the plant partially dries, withers, loses color intensity.
In the warmer months, it is advisable to keep tea in the fresh air. Rooms with constant ventilation, balcony, terrace, removal to the garden or digging into the soil - any option is suitable. You can take tea bushes to the garden after the night temperature rises to + 13 ... + 15 degrees (on warm days, plants can be taken out earlier, protecting from cold snap to +12 degrees by returning it to heat).
Tea Care at Home
Tea bushes cannot be called a simple plant. They require attention and care, constant monitoring, close monitoring and instant response; droughts and overflows are equally poorly tolerated, requiring year-round top dressing and special pruning. Chinese camellia bushes remain plants that can only be recommended to experienced flower growers.
Watering and humidity
For tea bushes, it is important to maintain a stable substrate moisture. As the topsoil dries in containers, the plants are gently watered. Too plentiful watering is better to replace with more frequent, but restrained. When overflowing, stagnant water, tea bushes stop growing and suffer from rotting of the roots.
Drought is not so dangerous, but it is also better to avoid it, because it affects the quality of the leaves and leads to their partial dropping. During budding and flowering, watering is corrected, slightly reducing soil moisture, but not allowing it to dry out. In winter, plants are watered, maintaining light substrate moisture.
The program for caring for tea bushes should definitely include cultivation. It is carried out not after each watering, but regularly (for example, after every fifth of such a procedure), gently fluffing the top layer of the substrate, but avoiding contact with the roots.
Humidity for tea is very important. Plants do not tolerate placement near heating appliances or air conditioners, they love medium-high air humidity levels of 65-75%. Tea bushes need measures to increase humidity not only during warm wintering: plants need to be sprayed more often and humidifiers installed to maintain consistently high rates. Tea bushes can be satisfied with the installation of pallets or plates with wet pebbles and expanded clay.
For watering and spraying the tea bush, you can use only a soft, high-quality, cleaned hearth.
Fertilizing and fertilizer composition
The main objective of top dressing for tea remains maintaining a stable soil nutritional value with its limited volume. Plants feed year-round (with the exception of cool wintering). The standard frequency is once every 2-3 weeks in the spring and summer and once every 5-6 weeks in the fall and with a warm winter.
Tea bushes need more nitrogen and phosphorus than potassium at a young age and prefer a balanced composition of fertilizers with a slight dominance of nitrogen after 4 years. Either universal fertilizers or preparations for camellias are used for the plant. For tea, you can use organic fertilizers and preparations based on them.
Trimming, shaping and harvesting
A good tea crop can only be harvested from properly formed plants. And tea bushes do not preserve their decorativeness without formation. The main purpose of pruning is to maintain a strong skeletal base of the bush, stimulate growth in width and the formation of the most dense crown.
Regular pruning of tea begins from 2 years or after the plants reach a height of 30 cm, when the upper part of the central shoot is removed from the plant to stimulate the growth of lateral branches (cut the tea to a level of 10 to 15 cm). Tea bushes are pruned once a year (with the exception of standard plants and bonsai, which are additionally formed with active growth). The optimal time is the same period as for transplantation - during the resting phase from November to February.
There is nothing complicated about pruning:
- for normal containment, the entire bush is shortened by 6-7 cm annually;
- to create compact wide bushes or preserve a certain shape, all the main branches are cut to a level of 30-35 cm, creating a permanent skeletal base;
- if you want to form a tea tree in a bonsai, a stamb or a more strict silhouette, pruning is carried out along the desired contours, leaving branches at least 15 cm long;
- weak, damaged shoots are removed annually.
The first collection of tea leaves is carried out on four-year-old and older tea bushes. You can harvest leaves from May to September, removing or plucking the tops of five-leaf shoots (a kidney and 2-3 leaves with a bright, light color under it are cut off).
To produce green tea, delicate leaves are steamed and dried and twisted after cooling. You will have to try hard to get black tea. The collected leaves wither from 5 to 18 hours, sprinkling with a thin layer in the shade until soft.
Sluggish leaves are gently twisted into tubes between the palms until a white foam appears and fermented at a temperature of 20 to 23 degrees, laying in a thick layer (10 cm) under a wet towel for 4-5 hours (before a typical tea smell and reddish-copper appear color cast). Fermented leaves are dried in the bright sun or in the oven.
Transplant and substrate
Tea bushes and trees reload, preserving most of the earthen coma. During the first five years, plants are replanted annually, in the future - only if necessary, replacing the topsoil every winter.
Chinese camellia is transplanted from November to February, before the plant begins active vegetation.
For tea, you need to carefully select the characteristics of the soil. This plant can grow only in a substrate, the pH of which does not go beyond 4.5-5.5. Ready-made substrates for rhododendrons are perfect.
For tea, not too spacious containers are chosen. Natural materials and breathable flowerpots are preferred. Drainage holes are key. Tea can be grown in groups or in large containers, creating green spaces. For bonsai-shaped tea, use traditional bowls.
For tea bushes, do not use too large containers. The diameter of the pots is increased not by a few centimeters, but by 30-50% compared with the previous container in order to make transplanting as rare as possible.
At the bottom of the tea pots, be sure to lay a high layer of coarse drainage. Plants are dangerous to penetrate, the root neck should not be immersed in the soil. Tea bushes are best grown with protective mulching of the soil. When taking to the garden and digging in, you can use any available mulch. For purely potted plants, mulching is performed from decorative materials or bark.
Diseases, pests and growing problems
Tea is considered to be a houseplant resistant to pests and diseases, even in the form of a bonsai it rarely gets sick. Nevertheless, problems in its development cannot be avoided. The plant reacts very sensitively to changing conditions, often loses decorativeness, and may look stunted for no obvious reason. Tea should be closely monitored, constantly checking the condition of the substrate and leaves, adjusting care at the first sign of wilting.
Often, the loss of leaf decorativeness is associated with flowering: in some homemade tea bushes, leaves quickly lose their decorativeness when the buds ripen and the buds open. The plant will recover over time, after flowering, but for bonsai and shaped trees it is sometimes better not to allow flowering, focusing on the main goal - to preserve the beauty of the bushes.
Propagation of indoor tea
Despite the fact that camellias are propagated vegetatively, only indoor seed cultivation is used for indoor tea. For growing tea bushes, planting material is carefully selected in the form of uniform, from 12 mm in diameter, whole, dark brown seeds with a white core. Tea seeds are kept in the cold before sowing, at a temperature of about 5 degrees Celsius, in stably wet sand. They are soaked before sowing for 48-72 hours in water with a temperature of 20 to 25 degrees.
Sowing is carried out in early spring in light acidic substrates to a depth of about 3.5 cm. Sowing is carried out for 4-5 pcs in individual pots. Provided that light soil moisture is maintained under glass or film, crops appear within 1-3 months.
Plants develop quickly, weak seedlings are discarded or pecked into individual containers only with very dense crops, trying to leave seedlings in the same pots for as long as possible. The root system of a plant develops to the detriment of vegetation, often the first shoots die off, and the roots produce new shoots. Shrubs begin to form from the age of two, according to the usual method.