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My journey with the Michelia Alba started when I complimented my parents on their new indoor potted plant. I had no idea the name of the plant, but found it unusual, but amazing that a tree could have flowers with such a strong fragrant smell. I wanted a branch to soak in water in hopes of propagating another plant. Little did I know they would find a local nursery and outright buy me one. After I found out the plant cost $80, substantially more than the $15 I spend at Lowes or Home Depot) and was grown from a naked stick legally imported from Asia, I decided I should do some research to make sure I'm doing everything right.
Useful Michelia Alba Facts:
The simplest place to start looking is online. I've put together some facts during my research that may benefit the first timer to this plant.
- Also known as white campaca, white sandalwood, white jade orchid tree.
- Grows in US Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 10-11.
- Has cream white flowers with 12 tepals.
- Root problems arise in constantly wet soil, better to let the surface roots dry out before watering again.
- Young trees N-P-K ratio of 15-15-15 while established trees have a N-P-K ratio of 7-9-5.
- Benefits from a mix of full sun and indirect sunlight.
- Mealybugs can find their ways on leaves, but can be washed or wiped off.
- Can be grown indoor in a pot or outdoors.
- Cannot survive freezing temperatures outdoors
- Windy areas are not optimal, as branches can easily break.
- Grown outdoor with long healthy root system can result in 20-30 foot tree.
- Germinated from a seed, it will take between 8-10 years to flower.
My Michelia Alba Plant
My plant is quite large already. It probably about 5 feet tall and 3.5 feet wide. Most of the leaves are healthy with a handful of leaves possibly munched on by insects. I've decided to put the plant in a mostly cool area with lots of indirect sunlight all day. The instructions from the nursery was to water once every 3 days while the plant gets accustomed to it's new environment and light source and not to repot it right away. Leave it in the ugly black plastic planter.
I will report back with another post in a couple of weeks or if there's something new to report.