How To Achieve Proper Chinese Elm Bonsai Care

Chinese Elm Bonsai tree is evergreen when grown under the right environmental conditions. Growing a houseplant like a bonsai is a great way to achieve that. Its ability to draw life energies into space has made it a favorite home addition

Chinese Elm Bonsai in a white pot

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Do you want to provide more peace and balance in your home? Growing a houseplant like a bonsai is a great way to achieve that. Its ability to draw life energies into space has made it a favorite home addition. It's no wonder why it has become an intricate part of feng shui. But, whether you believe in the art, bringing a bonsai tree into your living space would be an excellent idea. 
One of the most attractive bonsai trees worth having is the Chinese Elm Bonsai. The Chinese Elm Bonsai tree is indisputably beautiful with its magnificent solid trunk, tiny green leaves, robust branches, and thin twigs. However, the tree's forgiving nature makes it a popular choice among bonsai enthusiasts and beginners. 
While it's one of the easiest bonsai trees to grow, the Chinese Elm Bonsai tree also needs proper care and maintenance. Learn how to keep the plant healthy and happy with this bonsai care guide.

Overview of Chinese Elm Bonsai Tree

This tree is evergreen when grown under the right environmental conditions. But it will become deciduous and lose part of its foliage in colder or extreme climates. Although it's normal for the Chinese Elm Bonsai tree to shed its leaves during autumn, it can stay evergreen in regions with a Mediterranean-like atmosphere, as you'd find on the coast of southern California. 
Autumnal leaf-dropping is natural and not a significant concern for many bonsai like the Chinese Elm. However, numerous leaves dropping off can also be due to improper care or a less-than-ideal environment. 

How To Achieve Proper Chinese Elm Bonsai Tree Care

Thus, equip yourself with the following Chinese Elm Bonsai care tips before having this one grow into your indoor or outdoor space. 

Tip 1: Place the Bonsai in the Right Location

Like other bonsai trees, location is critical for successfully growing a Chinese Elm Bonsai. The good thing about this type of bonsai is that it's not too particular about placement. You can care for it as an indoor or outdoor plant. However, you have to ensure it gets the proper amount of sunlight. 
In most homes, the best place for a bonsai like the Chinese Elm to thrive well is right at the window facing the South. It's where it can get the most natural light during the day, which is essential to the growth of its foliage. 
If you decide to move the plant and grow it as an outdoor bonsai, ensure to acclimate the plant to direct sunlight slowly to prevent its small delicate leaves from being burned. 

Tip 2: Provide Moderate Watering 

There are no special watering techniques for a Chinese Elm Bonsai. While it's forgiving of late and missed waterings, this bonsai doesn't like being too wet or dry. 
Knowing the right time to water the plant is essential to bonsai tree care. Having a definite schedule may help, but the bonsai’s water needs can vary depending on the location and climate. 
It will need less water during the winter season. Meanwhile, you will have to do more regular watering sessions in the spring and summer. Overwatering the Chinese Elm Bonsai is also not a good idea as it can drown and damage the roots. Make sure you know when your bonsai needs watering. 
The soil moisture is the primary indicator you need to learn when watering the Chinese Elm Bonsai; sticking your finger a half-inch into the bonsai soil is an excellent tip to help you identify it. 
If you don't feel much moisture, the plant likely needs watering. Ensure to water the bonsai generously when it's already dry. But, never let the soil dry out for too long, so consider checking on it every few days. 

Tip 3: Supply the Right Amount of Humidity

Humidity is an essential element of the growth cycle of a Chinese Elm Bonsai tree. Or else it will wither up, resulting in early death. The right amount of humidity might be hard to achieve when growing indoor bonsai trees. Air conditioning inside your living space makes the environment dry, restricting the growth of the bonsai plant. 
Using humidity trays is an affordable way to resolve such a problem. Filled with pebbles and water, they will give your Chinese Elm Bonsai tree some extra moisture without submerging the roots. You have to place the potted plant on top of the pebble tray, allowing the bonsai to get the right humidity as the water evaporates into the air. 
You can also invest in a humidifier. It's highly effective at increasing the moisture level for your Chinese Elm Bonsai. However, it can be more expensive. Other alternatives can include placing your plant in a steamy bathroom or misting it periodically. 

Tip 4: Apply the Appropriate Fertilizer

The Chinese Elm Bonsai doesn't need frequent fertilization. You only need to apply fertilizer once every two weeks during its growing season, from spring to fall. Then you need to scale back or don't fertilize in the winter when the bonsai is in the dormancy stage. Remember that over-fertilizing can cause the leaves to burn and possible death. 
Finding a suitable fertilizer is also crucial. The Chinese Elm Bonsai does well in fertilizer with low levels of nitrogen. Just be mindful of the instructions on the fertilizer package to figure out the proper amount you should use. Also, don't feed the bonsai right away or during its first week with you. Instead, give the tree some time to adapt to its new location. 

Tip 5: Shape With Proper Pruning and Wiring

The Chinese Elm is a fast-growing bonsai species. Regular and careful pruning is vital if you want to keep it from growing too big and style it into your desired shape.
You can prune this bonsai tree year-round. However, any major pruning is only advisable during dormancy periods, typically in early spring. This is to ensure it will heal properly from the wounds that come from the pruning process. 
Let new shoots extend three or four nodes before cutting them back to one leaf or two. This helps produce fresh buds and a dense network of fine branches. Also, you may have to prune the bonsai roots to prevent strain when trying to absorb nutrients all over the bonsai tree. 
While you can shape the Chinese Elm Bonsai through pruning alone, wrapping wire around its branches enables you to reposition the bonsai style to your preference. And don't remove the wire too early, or it will quickly bend into its previous position.

Tip 6: Repot Every Two Years

You will have to repot young Chinese Elm Bonsai trees every two years. Meanwhile, as they grow older and larger, you'll find that they will require less repotting, typically every three to five years. However, if you notice the roots circling the bonsai pot, it can be a sign to put the plant in another pot carefully. 
The best time to repot this bonsai tree is in the early spring, regardless of their age. And, when doing so, use the correct bonsai soil mixture, which comprises one part each of akadama, pumice, and lava rock. 
You can modify the mixture but consider the unique environmental conditions of your plant. If it has to absorb more water, you can add more akadama and additional lava rock if the bonsai needs more drainage. Note that the ideal bonsai soil pH is between 6.5 and 7.5. 

Tip 7: Protect Your Bonsai During Winter

The Chinese Elm Bonsai thrives well outside in the warmer months. If you decide to grow the tree as an outdoor bonsai, ensure to protect it during the winter season. This might only be necessary for places with extreme winter. 
If the temperatures get much colder than 10 degrees Celsius, move the plant indoors or use more insulation and thicker boxes to protect it from deep freezes. The bonsai roots cease to function if the soil around them freezes. 
But ensure not to over-protect the plant. It's a common mistake for beginners to rush the bonsai trees into winter protection. The dormancy period is also essential for the long-term health of your Chinese Elm Bonsai, especially if it's in a temperate climate. 
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You'll find Chinese Elm Bonsai trees tolerant to various environmental conditions. However, as with all other species of a bonsai plant, it's also susceptible to several diseases and issues. And knowing those problems is a vital element of the bonsai care guide. Below are the common ones you should watch out for when growing a Chinese Elm Bonsai tree. 

Leaves Turning Yellow

As an evergreen, the leaves of Chinese Elm Bonsai may turn yellow when the plant enters a dormant period in autumn. However, yellow Bonsai leaves can be a warning sign for care issues if it's not autumn. 
The most common cause of the yellowing of the leaves is overwatering and underwatering. It can also be due to other factors, such as overexposure to light from the sun, cold air, or nutrient deficiencies. 

White Fungus Infection

Several types of fungus can affect the overall health and appearance of a Chinese Elm Bonsai tree. When you notice a growth of white spots, powder, or mildew on the bonsai leaves, it's a sign that your tree has a white fungus infection.
This white fungus thrives in damp conditions. And with poor air circulation, they will start infesting the top of the bonsai leaves. If it's left unchecked and untreated, it will spread on the underside and stems of the bonsai plant. 

Dutch Elm Disease

This type of fungal disease causes damage to the upper branches of the Chinese Elm Bonsai. Beetles tunneling underneath the bonsai bark is the fungus responsible for spreading this disease. 
Its initial symptom is yellowing of the leaves, which looks the same as a bonsai that doesn't get enough direct sunlight. The good thing about this is you can prune and destroy infected branches if you catch them early. 

Chinese Elm Anthracnose

Also referred to as black leaf spot, Chinese Elm Anthracnose is a fungal infection that can attack your bonsai tree. It is most prevalent when the bonsai produces new plant tissue through the spring season. 
According to the University of Minnesota Extension, Chinese Elm Anthracnose particularly occurs in cooler conditions and temperatures from 50 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit. You can see tan to dark spots on the infected bonsai leaves. You may also find them distorted, cupped, or curled. 

Spider Mites Infestation

Spider mites are the most common and dangerous bugs that can infest your Chinese Elm Bonsai. They are so small that you can't see them with the naked eye. However, they produce web-like structures and mottling on the upper bonsai leaves. These pests are more frequent in indoor bonsai plants and in the summer months, where temperatures are around 27 degrees Celsius. 

Weak or Poor Growth

Growing bonsai trees is usually a lifelong hobby. But, like a rapidly growing tree, the Chinese Elm bonsai can grow 12 to 36 inches every year during the growing season. If you notice weak or poor growth with your plant, there's likely a lack of nutrients in the soil, or it doesn't receive the proper care requirements. 
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