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How to take care of your Chinese Elm Bonsai tree

Ulmus Parvifolia Bonsai Care

About the Chinese Elm Bonsai Tree

Chinese Elms is a strong and adaptable bonsai tree that makes a good tree for beginners. They develop a lot of character in the bark and are good at shaping, which benefits them among the bonsai experts as well.

The Chinese elm is native to East Asia, where it can grow up to 60 feet in its natural state.

This tree has a unique ability among bonsai trees to thrive either indoors or outdoors, although it can drop some of the leaves in either situation as it is semi deciduous. Chinese Elms form a graceful upright rounded sky with small, dark green leaves.

All in all, this makes a wonderful and traditional bonsai tree.

One of the benefits of growing a Chinese Elm bonsai tree is that, unlike many other elm trees, it is not prone to Dutch elm disease – which can be fatal.


A Chinese elm makes a wonderful bonsai indoors with enough lighting. It can live outside, but will die in temperatures below 45 degrees unless it is incredibly well protected and insulated – so the inside for winter is best.

Make it stay lots of sun (6 hours or so) with a quality that grows light indoors or on a window sill (south facing position preferred).

Bring it in for the season when the temperature reaches 40 degrees and take it out when all chances of freezing during the season are gone.


The Chinese elm, like most bonsai trees, will die if it dries out. It has much water in well draining soil. Never allow it to dry completely.


When your Chinese alm bonsai trees are indoors, with a damp tray recommended.


Since your Chinese Elm bonsai is in a small pot and does not need the soil it needs nutrients. A slow release (pellet based) fertilizer is perfect for this and can be added sparingly every other month during the growing season.

Pruning and trimming

Cut back the new growth to the longest safe point that looks good to you – but never remove all the new growth.

A regular trim will help you keep your Chinese elm bonsai tree short, while the trunk becomes thicker.


Repotting must be performed regularly on your bonsai, Chinese Elm included, when its root system has filled the pot. If you can clearly see roots coming out of the bottom of the pot, it’s time to reposition your bonsai.

Generally, this means 2-3 years for a deciduous tree and 4-5 years for an evergreen. Being somewhere in between, the Chinese Elm will need to be relocated every three years depending on its environment.

Staining should be done in the middle of summer, when the tree is in the least fragile state.

Your Chinese elm bonsai, along with all its soil, should be removed from the pot. From there, you can trim away at most one-third of the root mass (1/4 preferred.)

Then you can reposition the tree in the same pot, or give it a newer / larger pot to thrive in.

After rescheduling, your bonsai Chinese Elm should be watered thoroughly.

Diseases, insects and other pests

Your Chinese elm Bonsai can be treated for pests like a regular Chinese elm tree. Just remember that your tree is miniature and will need a much smaller and more gentle dose of treatment.

About Elisa

I love flowers and bonsai trees

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