Chinese Elm Bonsai – A Majestic Bonsai Specimen

The term Bonsai is not a specific variety of plant but rather the term given to the techniques used to capture the natural beauty of a tree, but in miniature form. A full grown tree and a bonsai can be grown from the same seeds. Ulmus Parvifolia or the Chinese Elm is one of the best elms for creating a bonsai. Native to China, Korea and Japan the Chinese Elm Bonsai is a hardy tree suited to most styles of bonsai including, straight-trunk, group planting, broom style and the ‘grow on a rock’ technique. 

Other good choices for this art form include the Grey Bark Elm, Scotch Elm, Wych Elm, English Elm and Leather Leaf Elm. The Chinese Elm bonsai has small glossy green leaves and corky bark. Also known as the lacebark elm, it responds very well to pruning by generating copious amounts of new shoots. This makes it a popular choice among experienced bonsai gardeners and beginner bonsai hobbyists alike

Chinese Elm Bonsai - A Majestic Bonsai Specimen
Chinese Elm Bonsai – A Majestic Bonsai Specimen

Chinese Elm Bonsai – Caring

Chinese Elm bonsai require less watering during winter however the soil needs to be kept damp and during periods of rapid growth more regular watering is essential. It is an extremely durable tree which can withstand extended periods as a display specimen indoors. In the winter months it is extremely important that it is given a period of dormancy. This is done by placing the tree outdoor against a wall to shield it from extreme weather and the soil covered with mulch. If your Chinese Elm Bonsai is not allowed this crucial period it will be more susceptible to disease and may become unhealthy. 

The Chinese Elm Bonsai is a deciduous tree that is the perfect addition to any bonsai garden either formal or informal. Its leaves are very slender, slightly pointed and coarse to touch and mostly pear shape with some taking on a more oval form than others. In the fall, they turn a vibrant shade of red before fading to various shades of yellow then falling from the tree. It has wide spread branches that give an overall dome shape to the tree and the bark is a dull gray brown colour.

All bonsai varieties require a degree of seasonal pruning. Done regularly, this encourages the growth of smaller branches. Chinese Elm Bonsai have an extremely rapid period of growth during the warmer months requiring more regimented shaping. The most recommended tool for this is the Satsuki Shears. They have a long narrow body made specifically for trimming buds and reaching deep with little disturbance to the surrounding foliage. Wiring is also essential to keep the elm looking natural in its miniature form. This is done to hold branches in a desired position.

Chinese Elm bonsai are native to East Asia. When left to grow naturally they will reach close to 60ft and are equally happy indoors or out. They have a particularly slow and predictable growth patterns making them forgiving of mistakes which in turn makes them the perfect choice for bonsai growers of all levels. They are easy to propagate and their seeds germinate readily making them one of the most popular choices to transform into a bonsai.