Who's the Leader of the Club?
Mickey Mouse Plant or Bird's Eye Bush
This is part of a group of over 80 species of deciduous or semi-evergreen shrubs or trees. They are grown for their flowers and fruits.
The leaves are leathery and shiny and fine toothed.
The saucer shaped flowers are about 3/4 inch across. They bloom late spring and fall.
Plant in full sun.
Fertilize monthly. Will grow in fertile and moist, but well-drained soil.
A fun plant for the landscape.
The books say it needs to grow in zones 9, 10, or higher. I think we grew it in zone 8 in SC.
This plant could be pretty big so I hate to suggest digging it up after if finishes blooming and winter it indoors (in a garage or cellar). I've had pots freeze solid even in a garage.
If it is too big to bring in, then I would mulch it well, in place, and hope for the best, but I don't know if it will survive a solid freeze.
You could try collecting the seeds and keeping them until spring. Then sow them in some loose soil above 60 degrees F.
"Botanica" says "propagate from seed in spring or from cuttings in the summer"
"A-Z Encyclopedia Of Garden Plants" says "Sow seed at 61 degrees F in spring. Root semi-ripe cuttings with bottom heat in summer, or air layer in spring." (See our Garden Glossary for "air layering")
Emily: My mom always tries to get this plant to flower on Chinese New Year's Eve
Dear Emily: I live in Fremont, California. Could you please tell me how to get this plant OCHANA bloom early between Jan 31 and Feb. 6 of each year? I planted this plant in the ground and it always bloomed in April.
A: Ochna (bird's eye bush) or Mickey Mouse plant (Ochna serrulata) grows well and may be forced in a greenhouse before its time.
A fertilizer with a high middle number may do the trick.
Some plants bloom when their genes are programmed to do so. Mulching and keeping the temperatures around the plant in January what they might be in April.
It's a tricky thing to do.
(note: a reader writes this answer to us)
A: My mom always tries to get this plant to flower on Chinese New Year Eve which is always changed from one year to the next, but the range is from January 16 to February 15. What she did is pulling out all the leaves, two months before Chinese New Year Eve and the Ochna serrulata will blooming around that date. She said if you left the leaves on, the plant blooms on the usual blooming time and the bloom very scatter. But if you pull out all the leaves, all the buds will grow and bloom at one time and around the date you desire. Specially, if it blooms on Chinese New Year days which would make my mom very happy. She consider that as good luck.