By Jerry Meislik
The Orange Jessamine is a material that is widely used for bonsai in the warmer areas of Southeast Asia. The plant is in the citrus family and it naturally gows as a very small tree or large shrub. Even in the ground it grows quite slowly, so large bonsai are hard to find and can be quite valuable. The picture shows one tree grown in the ground in Taiwan and documented to be 100 years old.
The Murraya has a three to four inch long compound leaf but the leaves are often cut back to only one pair of leaflets for bonsai display. The natural growth of the tree in the ground is generally straight but the surface rootage is nearly always quite good. The bark is a dark grey that can be washed to reveal the sub-bark which is a creamish color. The trunk often has elegant fluting or muscling. Flowers are small and white and are followed by a small "orange" fruit.
Roots are whitish and tend to me very hairy.
Murraya is easily grown from fresh seed but the growth is very slow, especially indoors. Growing from seed can be frustrating due to the extemely slow increase in trunk size. It does break back on old wood after severe reductions, so collecting a large specimen and chopping it back is a good way to start a large bonsai.
Murraya are easy to grow indoors even in a bright windowsill. They like warm temperatures so do not allow them to get below 50F. They do not seem too prone to insect infestations.