top of page
© Mo

Making Shui Mei Bloom
- Wrightia Religiosa Book-


Boh Chit Hee, a pioneer of bonsai cultivation in Singapore, donated some of the treasures of Wrightia bonsai to the Shanghai Botanical Garden in 2002 and disclosed the technique for letting Wrightia leaves fall and bloom. In his speech at the reception ceremony, Dr. Hu Yonghong, deputy director of the Botanical Garden, refer to the occasion as "double treasure".


Boh Chit Hee started planting Wrightia in 1953 and in 1992, began to use a self-prepared defoliant to control the flowering period of Wrightia. Since then, at the Lunar New Year Flower Market and the bonsai exhibitions, one can always see a sea of white blooming Wrightia, and the air is full of fresh floral fragrance.

The fragrant white flowers of Wrightia can be timed to bloom according to occasions, all because of the magical defoliant! How was this"treasure"discovered and formulated?

In a media interview in 2002, Boh Chit Hee's wife Tu Ching said that 10 years ago, their two sons, aged six and seven, accidentally knocked down a Wrightia bonsai of their father's while playing football in the garden and tried applying all-purpose glue on the broken branches. When Tu Ching found out, she quickly washed the glue away with dishwashing detergent. After a few days, the leaves on the branches withered and fell off, but soon after, new leaves started to grow and  flowers bloomed shortly.

Could the mystery of falling leaves of Wrightia lie in the detergent? This accidental discovery aroused the interest of Boh Chit Hee and Prof. Hew Choy Sin, advisor of the Singapore Bonsai Society, and they embarked on research. They diluted dishwashing detergent and washing powder with different amounts of water, then sprayed them on the Wrightia as an experiment. Finally, they figured out that the appropriate ratio and successfully made the Wrightia blossom as expected!

Before using defoliants, Boh Chit Hee and his wife had used manual leaf picking to control flowering. Manual leaf picking is time-consuming and laborious, and prolonged picking often hurts the index finger and thumb. Branches and buds may be accidentally removed too. They have tried a variety of chemicals in the past, but the effect was not satisfactory.



The recipe for Wrightia defoliant is a dishwashing agent diluted with water. The ratio of the two is one part dishwashing agent to four parts water. Due to the difference in concentration of dishwashing agents on the market, pay special attention and adjust the ratio accordingly.


Flowering up to a month

It takes a month for a defoliant-sprayed Wrightia to begin blooming. For example, if you want it to bloom on the first day of new year, you must spray the defoliant on the first day of December.  If special treatment is added, the flowering period can last as long as one month. During the whole period, flowers will bloom and fall continuously; together with the young green leaves, they are truly pleasing to the eye!

Spraying method and effect

1. Spray back and forth on all the leaves thoroughly. Some of defoliant will flow into the soil, but there is no need to worry about it affecting the growth of the Wrightia.

2. Do not water within one hour after spraying. If it rains, spray again after the rain have stopped and the leaves have dried.

3. The leaves will turn black shortly after spraying and began to fall off within two days. At this time, you can shake the branches to assist the leaves to fall. If only half of them fall, the effect is not ideal, you can spray again with the same formula of defoliant.

4. Seven or eight days later, new shoots will grow on the branches as the remaining leaves continue to fall off. Four weeks later, the whole tree will be in bud; after another week, the flowers will bloom.

5. In order to achieve the desired effect, it is best to spray the defoliant on sunnydays, and this can be done four times a year. If the time elapsed between defoliations is greater, the flowers bloom more luxuriantly. In addition, the defoliant can also act as pesticide.


bottom of page