Chinese Elm Bonsai

Guide to Cultivating the Chinese Elm Bonsai

The Chinese Elm Bonsai is relatively hardy and adaptable, so it is an excellent option for beginners. These trees may also produce small and serrated leaves, as well as twiggy branches that are quite easy to train. If you want to cultivate this type of tree for bonsai gardening, then the following helpful tips can come in handy before you get started.


Chinese elms can tolerate full sunlight, although there are important things you need to keep in mind before you place the plant in strong sun. Indoor Chinese Elms must be exposed slowly to the sun as this can help prevent damages or “burns” to the leaves. Once they are already accustomed to the sun, these plants can thrive well and produce smaller leaves that enhance their appearance.

Among the great benefits of cultivating Chinese Elms is their flexibility and adaptability. Once they have become acclimated to a particular environment, they can grow well even when kept indoors. If these trees are gradually hardened off to cold temperatures, you will notice their leaves falling during autumn, which make them apt to be considered as deciduous trees.

chinese elm bonsai

Photo Credit: Steve Greaves via Compfight cc

Keep in mind, though, that you need to know the kind of environment where your Elm has been accustomed to grow. For instance, Elms that originate from Southern China have never been exposed to cold conditions. Hence, keeping these plants in areas that are too cold during its first year can be detrimental to its health.

On the other hand, there are some Elms that prefer colder temperatures, and they may not thrive indoors. If there is no way to determine the origin of your Elm, then the safest thing to do is to keep it outdoors for the summer and place it indoors during the winter.


Once you have noticed your plant is pushing out light-green and fresh growth, you may already begin feeding it. During the growing season, you may use mild organic fertilizer with balanced amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium or NPK in either liquid or pellets form. In autumn, you should apply fertilizer with less nitrogen composition. If you plan to use pellets, then you may apply these once a month. For liquid fertilizer, you may use it every two weeks.

When you have noticed that the tree’s growth is already slowing down, you should only use liquid fertilizer once a month. In addition, there is no need to feed your plant during winter. Lastly, it is not advisable to fertilize a weak plant as this can cause further damages to it.

Further Details about the Chinese Elm

Chinese Elms are susceptible to black spots, which is a type of fungal disease that appears as dark-colored spots on the leaves. You must treat this condition immediately by spraying a fungicide, and make sure you remove leaves that are overly damaged. As soon as you notice stickiness to the foliage, infestation of insects, and abnormal leaf drop, it is important that you treat these problems before they worsen.

Begin by showering the plant with lukewarm water to wash away any pests. Afterwards, spray the affected area with rotenone pyrethrin spray or mild insecticides. You may have to repeat the treatment process more than once, and make it a point to always refer to the package directions to ensure positive results.

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