Chinese Elm

Chinese elm seems like it’s ignored a bit on the various bonsai forums. Probably due to it being one of the big three mallsai species (along with juniper procumbens nana and ginseng ficus). I have been itching to get one for a while though. I really like how well the leaves reduce, their shape, and the speed the species can growth.

Saturday the Indianapolis Bonsai Club had its annual open house and picnic at the house of the club president, Scott Yelich, who also happens to run Eagle Creek Bonsai. He had a nice display of his personal bonsai in his backyard, but I am afraid I didn’t think to snap any photos. He has the biggest fukien tea bonsai I have ever seen. It’s probably a foot to a foot and a half tall with a three or four inch trunk. I was looking around in the sale section and came across some different trees I would like to have. This Chinese elm jumped out at me for the decent movement it already has plus the two surface roots that make the base appear wider. Scott told me that it had been overwatered by an automatic watering system while he had been away, but it would bounce back quickly. It’s already putting out fresh new leaves so I’m not worried.

I’m still trying to figure out how to take decent pics, but I tried to snap one immediately when I got home.


You can get a better idea of how many dead twigs were scattered throughout by looking down into it.

Not sure what cultivar this is, but the leaves are super tiny.

I scraped off the top soil and applied a fresh dressing of my bonsai soil mix, then added some slow release fertilizer pellets.

It looks quite a bit better after just cutting out all the dead twigs from the canopy. 20130721-095427.jpg

Final result:

I need to figure out a future plan for this tree. I think I will keep going with a broom style. I am contemplating cutting it down to that first branch and using that to create a new top. It would create more taper and movement, plus the leaf size would fit an even smaller tree. For now I want it to recover from the over watering and start growing vigorously.


Published by

Charles Willis


2 thoughts on “Chinese Elm”

  1. You are correct about elms. I too, have seen a decline in elms. I think many growers have stopped in the US cause the influx of elms from China has devalued them. Finding big ones is difficult if not impossible. I have a big ugly one I will work on some day. It just sits in the back yard and I keep watering it.

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