Up Close (but not too personal): Meet Eugenia Myrtifolia - The Brush Cherry

Brush Cherry Care: The Key? Be Consistent

Eugenia sp. or Syzygium sp. Brush Cherry Bonsai - Eugenia

First of all, let's establish that these trees are closely related:

  • Brush Cherry - Eugenia myrtifolia (also called Syzygium paniculatum)
  • Jaboticaba - Eugenia cauliflora
  • Surinam Cherry - Eugenia uniflora

The Brush Cherry is a sub tropical evergreen. It's a vigorous grower. It likes to be warm-hot in the summer and about 60 degrees F in the winter. It does NOT like to be cold. Freeze it = Kill it (trust me, I’m guilty of doing just that)

The Brush Cherry loves the light but can tolerate lower light. In terms of lower light, what is found indoors is almost always going to be called - low light. If placed outdoors in summer - and if you can, please do - it can usually tolerate full sun, although partial shade is recommended in the late afternoon in the hottest part of the summer. Remember that the more direct sun it gets the more you’ll be watering it!

In summer, give it the heat, It will happily tolerate cooler temps in the winter - around mid 60's. What it does NOT like is drafts. Keep away from heat and air conditioning vents. This bonsai also doesn't care for a lot of change- so don't move it from place to place just for the heck of it.

Pay attention to your Brush Cherry and watch out for salt in its water. Its first choice is to be constantly damp, not wet, damp (see “wrung out washcloth” in the watering article). If outside in the summer it will take a lot of water. It won't need as much in the winter.

Do your best to ensure it doesn’t dry out. Eugenia's like their water much as they like their lighting and positioning - consistent.

You can mist this tree to bring up the local humidity but don't bother doing that if it is outside or in the summertime. If you’re blasting the air conditioning all the time then it will need to be misted.

If you can use rainwater to water it- great. If not, unless your water is super hard you should be ok. I don't have the time for rainwater either!

Eugenia likes to grow on the acidic side, so a food recommended for Azaleas would be good and you can even add something like Miracid on occasion but don't get heavy handed with it. Feed according to directions in the summer and cut at least in half in the winter - maybe cut back even more. As much as I personally prefer “organic” fertilizers that are specialized for bonsai they do cost a fortune and they’re a little hard to find. So, instead go ahead with a commercial balanced plant food and follow the directions.

You'll get better results shaping your Brush Cherry with pruning than with wiring. Once it throws out new shoots, wait for the growth to harden off. You can tell this by the leaves transitioning from a soft feeling and bright green colour to a harder feel and darker green colour. The leaves will feel as if they have toughened up the outer surface of the leaves. After it has hardened, trim the new shoots back to 1-2 pairs of leaves.

You CAN wire, but this is best done on very young growth and you must watch the wire as it will scar the three (like forever!) if it is left on too long.

You'll probably need to repot your tree every 2-3 years and if you choose to put it back in the same pot you can trim half the feeder roots.

Pests and diseases:
Pests: Watch out for mealy bugs, red spider mites, and aphids. All of which can easily be removed by washing off with water- a jet of it will take out the aphids, the mealy bugs can be wiped off with a wet Q-tip or paper towel and red spider mites can we washed away and then kept away by misting for a while, they thrive in dry air.