Chinese Elm

Chinese Elm
Chinese Elm (Ulmus Parvifolia)

ORIGIN: The Chinese Elm is native to East Asia and grows up to 18 metres in height and has a sinuous habit. The bark can either be what we call corky bark or grey bark elm, there is also a reddish brown and a cream variety. The elm can be an indoor or an outdoor tree. If kept indoors it stays evergreen whereas if kept outdoors all year it becomes deciduous. The foliage is small leathery and dark green, but shiny on top of the leaf with a slightly serrated edge.

The bark of Chinese Elms can be quite interesting, some varieties have smooth bark as in grey bark elm, while others have rough cork-like bark which cracks and becomes deeply fissured with age adding a great deal of character to the bonsai. Another species of tree having the same characteristics as corky-bark is the desert or golden ash, these are also excellent for the art of bonsai. Just mentioning that the smooth bark species of elm are not as hardy as the corky-bark but both make good bonsai specimens. Also elms are a great choice for beginners in bonsai, with a predictable growth pattern and being very forgiving when pruned. They are slow growing but very rewarding.

Placement and exposure: Morning sun is a good position for elms although they will tolerate full sun for most of the day. Most species of elm are frost hardy.

Watering: Water moderately year round, but keep the tree moist at all times, bearing in mind to water well during spring and early summer. The most important thing is not to let the tree dry out.

Fertilizing: I find the best feed is in liquid form, 15 mls of maxicrop to 15 mls of Nitrosol. One coffee mug of mix applied once weekly usually the day after watering. Remember keep the root system moist at all times.

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