How to Care for Michelia 'Alba'

Commonly known as white champaca, Michelia champaca “Alba” is an evergreen tree having an intensely fragrant blooms and glossy foliage. It rises at U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 10 through 11, in which it adds a tropical appearance to glowing garden beds with mildly acidic soil. White champaca requires moderate care year to keep it looking its best, but you will be rewarded for your efforts with masses of creamy white blooms from winter.

Watering Tips

Once established, white champaca does not require heavy watering . however, it ought to be watered during the summer to stop stress and dehydration. Root problems can arise in constantly wet soil, therefore it’s vital to let the soil dry out to the surface between waterings. Water till the soil feels moderately moist at the top couple of inches. A potted white champaca tree is particularly prone to root and dehydration problems, therefore grow it into a pot with drainage holes and water it deeply but infrequently. In areas having rainy, mild winters, stop watering in winter unless it has not rained for more than two weeks.

Fertilizer Needs

White champaca is a moderately heavy feeder and requires constant levels of nutrients through the busy growing season. The type of fertilizer and application frequency depends upon the age of this tree along with its growing conditions. Younger trees that are still establishing a successful root system require a complete fertilizer with an N-P-K ratio of 15-15-15, while established trees benefit from a booming fertilizer having an N-P-K ratio of 7-9-5. A white champaca in full sunlight needs more frequent feedings, irrespective of age. Mix 1/2 tsp of fertilizer in 1 gallon of water. Replace a couple of weekly waterings with the fertilizer solution in early summer and spring. Reduce feeding by one-half in late summer and early autumn, and quit feeding entirely in winter.

Pruning and Grooming

A white champaca tree has a symmetrical, spreading canopy having a clearly defined trunk. It seldom requires pruning since it has a naturally neat form. Some grooming during the growing season improves the tree’s shape and keeps the plant looking tidy. Snip off any debatable growth, like suckers, water sprouts or dead branches, at their base using sturdy, sharp pruning shears. Heavy pruning reduces flowering, so avoid removing a considerable number of live growth. Always soak your pruning shears in undiluted household disinfectant for five minutes, rinse and rub them dry before using them to protect against the transmission of diseases.

Potential Problems

A white champaca tree contains few serious problems. A younger tree may have problems with root diseases, but most can be prevented by watering correctly. Mealybugs pose the most significant issue. They reveal their existence with the white, cottony matter they deposit on the leaves. Small populations of mealybugs may be removed with a strong jet of water, although heavier infestations may require chemical intervention. Mix 2 1/2 ounces of neem oil in 1 gallon of water. Apply the solution with a pump sprayer, saturating the tops and bottoms of the leaves. Duplicate the treatment two to three times weekly before the infestation subsides.

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