Chinese Elm Bonsai

The Chinese elm bonsai is a beautiful tree, characterized by a solid trunk with a bushy canopy and can come in many different shapes and sizes depending how they have been trained from young.


The prime location for the Chinese elm is under a full sun or partial shade. They can be kept outdoors throughout the year but it will drop its leaves in winter. If it is kept indoors for winter make sure it’s kept in a cool room away from central heating and it should hold some leaves through the winter. The tree is quite hardy so in temperate zones, they can be left outside the whole year round. For summertime, you should have a place where you can transfer them where it will be cool.


When the surface of the soil is dry then it’s time to water. They must be watered generously as soon as the soil gets dry. However, drought should be avoided as well as constant wetness.


The only time fertilizers are pointless is during the winter season, otherwise the tree should be fed plenty of organic fertilizers in both solid or liquid form but the amount of application should taper towards winter. This does change if you are growing your tree indoors. You can keep fertilizing throughout the year since the tree won’t experience dormancy. A note in making use of fertilizers, you should know the proper ratio between the NPK components. These are seen in the packaging as a series of 3 numbers like 5:5:5. Most growers are fine with a balanced ratio; it just depends on what you are trying to achieve.

If you want more flowers, you will need to pick a fertilizer with a higher ratio of phosphorus and potassium such as a 5:10:10. If you want to promote a leafy growth then pick a fertilizer with a higher ratio of nitrogen like 10:5:5. Always make sure the plant can handle the strength of the fertilizer or else you could end up burning the leaves, characterized by yellowing of the leaves. So, it is crucial to always follow the instructions printed on the packaging. To make sure you get the most appropriate fertilizer, visit Miyagi Bonsais Bonsai Care category as they will have the right fertilizer with the right ratios.


When it comes to pruning, there are two approaches: trim regularly or let it grow then trim. There is no wrong method but they do have their pros and cons.

If you prune regularly, you will get a better-looking tree but that also means it will need regular maintenance. If you prune every few months, it will be a one time-job but you also run the risk of branches crossing over one another. And of course, the tree will look messy for the majority of the time at least before the next pruning session.

Before you cut anything off, decide on the general shape you want the tree to achieve like you were a hairdresser. Of course, a tree that has been growing with you for some time already has a set shape and you need to do is to follow that shape. If the tree has been growing branches, start by cutting the long branches, keeping an eye on the tree’s shape. Then go deeper into the foliage and look for places where branches have crossed over. You’ll want to get rid of these crossovers to attain the desired look.


Chinese Elm trees aren’t picky with the choice of growing medium. It just needs to be well-draining because with any plant, allowing the roots to sit on water will only cause them to rot and die. As for the schedule, a young Chinese elm tree can be transplanted every two years and the interval will taper as the tree ages.

Dealing with Pests

Chinese elm trees are prone to attacks by the same types of pests that attack other plants. Fortunately, dealing with them is quite easy. A quick fix is with the use of a pesticide which Miyagi Bonsai offers. Spray the foliage when you observe some stickiness or when you see actual insects moving about. Inspect the underside of the leaves as that’s one spot for insects to hide. Check the lip of the pot where you stick your fingers in to lift the pot, that’s also a popular spot for insects to hide in.

The best way to keep the plant free from pests is to make sure it’s fed well. A healthy plant will be able to thrive better in a rough environment. Better yet, if you can find a way to isolate the plant inside a greenhouse then the better.

Plants located outdoors are the most prone to attacks. Inspect the surroundings and if you live in an area where there are many plants aside from your elm trees, those plants could be hosts for other insects. So, isolation is your best chance of keeping your trees pest-free

What should you do if you have an infection in your trees? Isolate the tree from the rest and cut off infected portions. If you can, burn the removed portions. Simply throwing them in a compost pit may not be enough to kill larvae and eggs and will only give them time to hatch and grow, spreading again to the surrounding areas.


Growing Chinese bonsai elm trees is a great hobby, the sight of a beautiful tree is very rewarding on an emotional level for many, even for those who are not growing one. The task is tedious and requires lots of research and Q&A sessions from other experienced growers. One article online will not suffice for a beginner so it is imperative to research and learn continually. Growing bonsai trees are a lifelong commitment for those who are serious.