pk_241011

Michelia Alba ownership thread

Just Started(Sydney)
last year
last modified: last year

So I finally got the plant. I had never seen this plant in real life. And though I knew it is a tree, I never could imagine its dimensions. Michelia Figo with its comparatively tiny leaves led my thinking process astray. Michelia Alba has big leaves.



Here is the plant itself. I personally cannot imagine the leaves that big staying upright on the plant. Gave it a good soak of water. Now will withhold watering till I put it in a pot.



It is looking slightly off. The leaves have yellow spots . Maybe the 4 days of darkness it endured during shipping. To be on safe side with respect to bugs, I hosed the undersides of the leaves.





The potting mix it arrived in is very interesting. It is very light and very porous. I will put this plant in 511 mix. And that too on the extra fast drainage side.


Good that I did not buy a pot as of now. I will put it in a bigger pot. Those leaves. I mean this plant is supposed to grow into a big tree.


This is such a tropical plant. One look and you know that this guys grows in the area where there is plenty of sunshine and humidity. A place where plants grow the whole year. And hence feeling a bit guilty to have it here in Sydney. Its scorching summers or freezing winters. And rains. Well we are in midst of a severe drought.


And it will get a pot to grow in. Not sure how well I can manage this beast of a tree in a pot.


Will keep the thread updated.

Comments (76)

  • Just Started(Sydney)
    Original Author
    last year

    Is it normal for new leaves to droop or is it temperatures or too much water or fertilizer?



    Some leaf burn too. Not sure again about it.





  • Just Started(Sydney)
    Original Author
    last year

    Well I got the first flower of the season. Smell is nice. Very sweet, oily viscose but not overpowering. I like it.





  • Dar Sunset Zone 18
    last year

    I find the flowers doesn't always smell the same. If you pick it and let it sit it sort of "ferments" and takes on a whole different personality. Sometimes I get a hint of the Juicy Fruit gum smell, some days it smells like something else.

  • sabut
    last year
    last modified: last year

    I almost killed my Alba by forgetting about it for a couple of weeks. When I remembered I had it, all leaves were wilting and were covered by spider mites. I sprayed it with a couple of different insecticides with a few days between them. The plant dropped almost all leaves but started to grow new foliage. Now I have a problem with some tiny pests eating new leaves. I do not see the web anymore but every few days I see tiny black dots at the bottom of the leaves (pic1), and some new leaves start drying out in the same place at the sides close to the base of the leaf (pic2). I remove the bugs by hand but they reappear every couple of days. Anybody had this problem before? How did you get rid of them?




  • Just Started(Sydney)
    Original Author
    last year

    As a stop gap measure keep hosing the undersides of the leaves everyday. Make sure that the plant does not get overwatered in the process. Maybe cover the soil?

  • Meyermike(Zone 6a Ma.)
    last year
    last modified: last year

    Just like I said up above, those mites will catch you off guard and kill your tree.

    I used 'All Seasons Dormant Oil' and that did the trick. You have to spray one a week for three weeks in a row. Then once every couple of months after that even in the growing season.

  • Just Started(Sydney)
    Original Author
    last year

    It's a bit humid now in Sydney and Michelia Alba has pressed the pedal to floor. Growing as if there is no tommorow and flowering too. The smell does waft. Smell is wrong word. It's a perfume. Put your nose against the flower and you will not like the smell. But smell it from a distance and you will get the floral fruity light perfume notes. It is very light and very fresh and refreshing. Humidity does do wonders to this plant.




    511 mix is the way to go for this plant. You cannot afford to overwater it.

  • Meyermike(Zone 6a Ma.)
    last year
    last modified: last year

    Just Started, good for you! That is exactly what mine did this past summer until the mites got to it and killed the entire plant when I noticed too late. It wa sjust awesome while it lasted. The flowers up close smell to me like very ripe pears...Just so heavenly. Happy for you. I can't wait until spring arrives up here since my other one won't have to struggle all winter.

  • Just Started(Sydney)
    Original Author
    last year

    And my Michelia got cooked in 113 F heat yesterday. All the new leaves burnt and that too in shade. It is what it is I guess. Life still goes on.

  • Grant Yang (Sydney Australia)
    last year

    @Just Started(Sydney) you left your potted tree under the scorching sun? Even young trees in ground can be burnt in the over 40 degree Celsius temperatures

  • Kawagoe (Santa Clara,CAHome of SF 49ers)
    last year

    Yeah, I have purchased my first plant last weekend at flea market.

    This plant already had flower buds. Hope it will bloom soon. I cannot wait to smell the flower.


  • Just Started(Sydney)
    Original Author
    last year

    @Grant Yang (Sydney Australia) Not in sun. Got only morning sun that day. But the hot winds did it in.

  • Grant Yang (Sydney Australia)
    last year

    @Just Started(Sydney) oh, so your tree died even sitting in shade during mid day & afternoon hot temperatures? My condolence. Was the last Saturday the second hottest day this summer?

  • Just Started(Sydney)
    Original Author
    last year
    last modified: last year

    @Grant Yang (Sydney Australia) It survived. But all the new shiny leaves got toasted brown. It got windy when the temperature was at peak. Scorching winds were too much for it. Now have found a corner for it. Sheltered from afternoon sun as well as wind. This guy is delicate.


    Have put in some fertilizer pellets and left it in rain to soak up all natural rain water mixed with plant food. A much deserved treat after the horror temperatures we saw. And boy is it not pouring. 511 mix rocks in times like this.

  • Grant Yang (Sydney Australia)
    last year

    yes it likes natural rain falls and will thrive after getting soaked up

  • Just Started(Sydney)
    Original Author
    last year

    Six months on and what have I got to show? A fast growing plant with an awesome perfume.

    Rains in Sydney did their magic. Something is there in rain water which is lacking in my tap water.


    Two questions:

    1. Can I prune off the fast growing tip to make it grow laterally.


    2. Now that Winters are approaching are there any tips and tricks to make it survive better?

  • Just Started(Sydney)
    Original Author
    9 months ago

    Hey I forgot my own thread !!!



    It has woken up after the winter slumber and is looking around to see if it missed anything. Well not much except an itsy bitsy Pandemic.

  • Meyermike(Zone 6a Ma.)
    9 months ago

    Well congrats on keeping it through the winter !!
    Did you have any issues with pest ?
    Where did you grow it while inside ?
    How ?
    Liking very good ))

  • Just Started(Sydney)
    Original Author
    9 months ago

    It stayed out the whole winter. Winters were rather mild this year. Only a single day of zero degree celsius.

  • davidrt28 (zone 7)
    9 months ago
    last modified: 9 months ago

    You must be in the suburbs? All time record low for central Sydney is only +2 celcius! Milder than Los Angeles OR Miami! (But cooler than Key West at least)

  • Just Started(Sydney)
    Original Author
    9 months ago

    Yeah in suburbs only. Central Sydney is closer to coast. Hence the higher temperature. Go out by 30 kms and you start seeing 0 or negative temperatures.

  • Meyermike(Zone 6a Ma.)
    9 months ago

    That’s good to hear! Over here already getting cold. Can’t hold on to summer for anything. It’s a joke. Have to bring mine in starting next week already. Such a short break outside. Depressing

  • Meyermike(Zone 6a Ma.)
    9 months ago

    It did flower though. Smells so good !

  • Just Started(Sydney)
    Original Author
    9 months ago

    Are you pruning it? Mine is growing straight up again. The lateral branches are also kind of hanging down due to weight of leaves.

  • Meyermike(Zone 6a Ma.)
    8 months ago

    Yes, I am . I prune it back hard to keep it short and compact. It sparks blooming too)

  • Just Started(Sydney)
    Original Author
    7 months ago

    And we have the first flower of the season. Hoping that it will unfurl in the water like Roses do.



  • Just Started(Sydney)
    Original Author
    6 months ago
    last modified: 6 months ago

    The buds are almost lined up like cannons waiting to fire off one at a time. Which is nice. Every branch has one flower blooming while rest down the branch wait. Mine has many branches and as of now I have around 4 flowers blooming making air all around sweet with fragrance.





    I did some tip pruning too to keep the branches from growing too long and touching the ground.



    It is a heavy feeder. I am feeding it weekly a mix of fish emulsion, a regular liquid plant food (chemical based) with a dash of liquid potash. All mixed together in a garden can. In small amounts only. Also there is a sprinkle of Osmocote slow release Rose fertilizer around the roots.

  • Grant Yang (Sydney Australia)
    6 months ago

    Excellent, mine are also blooming with fragrance filling the space within several meters diameter:


  • Just Started(Sydney)
    Original Author
    6 months ago

    Nice. Yours seem to be clustered together. Might be the angle of photo. Do they flower only on new growth?

  • Grant Yang (Sydney Australia)
    6 months ago

    When the tree is bigger the flowers appear in cluster.

    Yes It seems the flowers only appear on newly grown sections of the branch, several years old branches can only produce new leave/twig

  • sevenseeds
    6 months ago

    @Just Started(Sydney) What ever happened to your spotted Michelia alba leaves? Many of the leaves on my tree developed such spots a couple of months ago. Did you ever figure out what caused them? Did they go away?


    Thanks,




  • Just Started(Sydney)
    Original Author
    6 months ago
    last modified: 6 months ago

    @sevenseeds There are no yellow spots now on my plant. They were there when I received them.

    I won't give out wrong advice. I simply do not know.

    If it is summers where you are located then all I can say is that the plant is a very heavy feeder during its growth phase. So make sure it is getting fed well.

    You might want to hose the undersides of the leaves to make sure that there is no mite issue.

  • Embothrium
    6 months ago
    last modified: 6 months ago

    Pictures above show too small clay pots filled with coarse soil less potting medium. This combination will guarantee chronic problems with quick drying out and with recurring nutrient deficiencies.

    Article at link below appears to be addressing same environmental circumstances as described in this thread. Writer is located in New Mexico:

    Michelia Alba (desertscope.com)

  • Norris Chan
    5 months ago

    hi, may I know where can buy the plant in Sydney ?

  • Just Started(Sydney)
    Original Author
    5 months ago
    last modified: 5 months ago

    @Norris Chan Try Canley Vale Nursery, New South Wales.

  • Ghibie19
    5 months ago

    The plant looks quite impressive!

    How well does Michelia take pruning?

  • Just Started(Sydney)
    Original Author
    5 months ago

    Does not effect it at all. Still grows like a giant weed.

    The only thing which knocks it back it is hot afternoon sun.

  • Ghibie19
    4 months ago

    @Just Started(Sydney)Thank You Just Start!

    I am reading this trend with great interest. I notice that your plant appears to be quite vigorous container growing. What type of amendment would you recommend for the soil so that drainage is not an issue. Do the leaves naturally grow that large in nature? Can you please update the photo if possible. Thanks!

  • Just Started(Sydney)
    Original Author
    4 months ago

    I have put it in 511 mix. It is best for amatuer like me. I simply cannot overwater it. On really hot days I put the pot in a tray and fill it with water. It makes it through the whole day that way without needing to be watered thrice. But I do remove the tray of water in the night.


    Leaves go really large provided you are feeding the plant well.

  • michaelspokane
    4 months ago

    Has anyone seen fruit on their alba? I know it's a hybrid and rarely produces seeds, but rarely doesn't mean NEVER!

    These were flowers about 2 months ago. Usually, by now, the remains have turned brown and dropped off.
    The plant on the left is the one with the fruit; the one on the right has one as well. They sit under two 300w equivalent LED daylight spectrum floodlights. Right now they are producing another round of buds, and should be in bloom before the month is out.

  • Grant Yang (Sydney Australia)
    4 months ago
    last modified: 4 months ago

    @michaelspokane The small seeds in your photo are underdeveloped seeds of michelia alba which will not become useful fruits, usually a well-developed seed will form a single fruit like this:


    The pink fruit in the cracked open shell is the fruit that can be sown in ground. I had 5 of them in year 2019 & sowed them in ground, only 1 survived & grew into a live small plant of 0.9 metre although it has not had any flower yet. Michelia alba rarely set fruit but occasionally they do so, apart from mine I also saw michelia alba setting fruits in our local plant nurseries.

  • michaelspokane
    4 months ago

    That's very interesting! I'm just going to watch them and see what happens!

  • Just Started(Sydney)
    Original Author
    4 months ago

    That very interesting. Though I feel the seed grown one will take a long time to flower.


    Does anyone know how to make this guy branch out more? It is growing like straight up and sideways. I cut the tip off and instead of two branches coming out a single branch comes out from the side and goes on to put 30cm of growth in a single season.


    I was thinking of pruning it at the end of this year winter as flowers come on new growth only. If it can grow bushy that will be awesome.






  • michaelspokane
    4 months ago

    You might have to prune back more than the tip. The older of my two has a bushy habit now with no dominant leader.

    The scrawny plant in the small pot growing up through the alba is a dwarf Michelia champaca (Gardino Nursery) that MAY (fingers crossed) be forming its first bud!

  • 54jamesg
    3 months ago

    We have a row of these however the ones getting the full sun in the afternoon are struggling with leaf burn....any ideas?

  • Just Started(Sydney)
    Original Author
    3 months ago

    @54jamesg Put a sunshade cloth over them using tent poles. I assume that they are not in pots otherwise you would have moved them already.


    Put some shade cloth on the side also where they might be getting most of the hot winds. Yeah hot winds are also a problem.

  • weilin H UKzone9a
    4 days ago

    @Embothrium "Pictures above show too small clay pots filled with coarse soil less potting medium. This combination will guarantee chronic problems with quick drying out and with recurring nutrient deficiencies." that's how I grow my michelia alba as well. I use 511 mix in small clay pot. it does save my plant from root rot. however, it has serious iron deficiency. I wonder if I should fertilize it often or even use iron suphate. my m.alba did had root rot twice and had been repoted 3 to 4 times within a few months. the iron deficiency maybe related to stress as well.

  • Meyermike(Zone 6a Ma.)
    3 days ago

    Juststarted, what a beautiful potted tree!

    What kind of mix are you using. Mines seem to hare everything I use. Ugh. It struggles but still growing) Growing season just starting. I can re pot as soon as you let me know. Thanks

    Just Started(Sydney) thanked Meyermike(Zone 6a Ma.)
  • Just Started(Sydney)
    Original Author
    3 days ago

    @Meyermike(Zone 6a Ma.) It is 511 mix but on slightly coarser side so that water runs off fast. Rest is Controlled Release granules tailored for Roses and Camellia's. Occasional fish emulsion mixed in watering can.


    I think the biggest factor is location. In summers I move it to a corner spot where it gets sun till 11 AM only. And I have put shade clothes on fences to protect it from hot winds. Putting it in a tray of water on extra hot days does the trick.