The Chinese Elm Bonsai Tree

chinese elm bonsai tree

Lets have a look at the Chinese Elm Bonsai tree!

The Chinese Elm is grand and stands proud in any Bonsai collection. It simply is a must-have!

General Information

The Chinese Elm, Ulmus Parvifolia: is a highly attractive species with small green leaves, fine twigs, wonderful branches and a twisting trunk. It has magnificent exposed roots, or trunk basal flare, and evokes a notion of age grace.

The Chinese Elm Bonsai tree, native to China, Japan and Korea, is one of the most popular ornamental trees for beginners to collect, as it is easy to care for, and exceptional to look at. In warmer climates the Chinese elm will remain evergreen, in cooler climates the tree is decidous, however, it's leaves will linger at the end of growing season.

The small leaves are tightly set, making it a great participant in Bonsai. The bark has fantastic characteristics and textures, ranging from smooth to rough.

One of the main attractions of the Chinese elm is the impressive contrast that can be achieved between a thick trunk and the delicacy of very fine growth at the tips of the branches.

FYI – Bonsais that have smoother bark are more difficult to care for than rough bark trees, remember this when choosing your ideal Bonsai

Soil, Lighting, & Watering

The Chinese Elm Bonsai tree is a very forgiving tree, which is perfect for the beginner. It will tolerate a variety of soil types, and enjoys being left in full sunlight. It can be grown indoors, but lack of light will be a problem.

The Chinese Elm does like a good watering, especially on warm sunny days as it spends it's time in the sunshine. On such days, partial sunlight may benefit the tree. The Chinese elm is vulnerable to root rot so it is important to keep the soil well drained.

During The winter the Chinese Elm should be allowed to go dormant, whilst still being protected from the elements.

As a Bonsai, it is mainly a healthy tree, but it can be subject to the spoil of mites which can result in galls. These should be removed and burned.

You should fertilize weekly after the buds open in Spring, using a high nitrogen fertiliser. The tree will need a weekly feeding for about one month, and then every two weeks thereafter until the end of summer.

Too much fertilizing, especially with those high in nitrogen will encourage the leaves on your Chinese Elm to grow bigger.

TIP - Never feed your Chinese elm when it is out of leaf, or for indoor growth.

If you haven't already, make sure you check out our Bonsai Care Guide for a complete rundown of Bonsai Care!


The Chinese elm has an energetic root system and will require annual root pruning and repotting. For information on how to do this click here!

Pruning & Wiring

The Chinese Elm Bonsai Tree respond well to leaf trimming, and on an energetic tree this can be carried out twice in one season. Leaf pruning or the removal of leaves should be done every second year.

The tree will produce buds from old wood. You should prune and thin out the new shoots, so that they can divide. It is ideal to allow the shoots to extend 3 or 4 nodes, then prune back 1 or 2 leaves as required. Be sure when pruning that you leave one to two nodes located closest to the main branch or trunk.

The Chinese elm should be pruned heavily one month before or after you complete repotting. This is so it will be able to get through the repotting process, with minimal shock.

Root pruning should go together with branch pruning so that the root system is not strained trying to provide nutrients to an oversized branch system.

Large scale pruning in spring can lead your Chinese elm to form calluses, these can be reduced by carrying our large scale pruning in late Summer or early Autumn.

Wiring should be done during mid Summer. It is important to note that the bark marks easily, so a great deal of care should be used when undertaking your wiring method. For a complete guide on wiring click here!

Leave Chinese Elm Bonsai Tree and head back to our Bonsai Trees Guide