Bonsai Tree Chinese Elm

Buying a Bonsai is the perfect way to make your home greener and more decorative. Whether as a gift or a hobby, these miniature trees can bring much patience and positivity into your life.

If you plan on growing a Bonsai, going with the Chinese Elm tree is the best way to start. The tree is easy to care for and can survive with minimal care in temperate regions. Moreover, its solemn appearance can add a touch of elegance to your house or workplace.

This article contains a complete guide about Bonsai Chinese Elms for beginners. It discusses various aspects of caring for the miniature tree, from identifying to pruning it.

What Are Chinese Elm Trees

Chinese Elm trees are shady, deciduous trees that originated in East Asian countries like China, Japan, and Korea. This tree is a great low-maintenance plant due to its durability and rapid growth. Moreover, the Chinese Elm can grow up to 40 to 80 feet tall. However, despite its large size, the tree possesses low wind resistance.

The tree offers various benefits throughout the year. For example, the Chinese Elm tree sheds its bark from late winter to early summer and displays foliage till fall. The tree also blooms from spring through fall and bears fruits till early winter. Each part of the tree has possible medicinal values.

Chinese Elm Tree Classification

The Chinese Elm tree has a straightforward taxonomy. According to the ITIS, the Chinese Elm belongs to the Plantae Kingdom and falls under the Rosales Order. It is further classified under the Elms Family and Ulmus Genus.

Appearance and Characteristics

Chinese Elm trees are very easy to identify. They appear large and majestic. Their bark displays a lacy texture in shades of tan, brown, and olive. While their leaves have a smooth upper side, they are slightly hairy on the lower surface. Moreover, these leaves have a rich dark green color and glossy feel. Lastly, the tree bears samara fruits.

Quick Summary

  • Chinese Elm trees are large and deciduous
  • They are native to China, Japan, and Korea
  • They can grow up to 80 feet tall
  • The materials from the tree can be useful throughout the year
  • Chinese Elms have glossy and dark green leaves, samaras, and lacy barks

How to Care For Bonsai Tree Chinese Elm

One of the best things about the Bonsai tree Chinese Elm is that it requires minimal care. The plant is easy to nurture and appears effortlessly aesthetic. However, you must be mindful of a few factors while caring for a Bonsai tree.


Chinese Elm trees can survive in regions that receive low sunlight. However, the Bonsai would grow best in full sun. If you live in a warm region, you can even leave the miniature tree outdoors during winters.


Bonsai tree Chinese Elms do not require constant watering and moisture. Firstly, ensure the upper soil in the Bonsai tree pot is dry before watering. Then, you can water the tree enough to let the moisture reach all its roots.

Humidity & Temperature

The tree has a low tolerance for humidity. You must place it in a dry and cool room. While it thrives in a cooler temperature, the tree cannot withstand icy weather. So, if you live in a cold region, keeping it indoors during harsh winters is ideal to avoid frost. The Chinese Elm can also protect itself against the cold by shedding its leaves later.


You do not require fancy tools to clean Bonsai tree Chinese Elms. You can clean them once or twice every fortnight with a damp cloth. Also, spraying some water on the outside might help wipe off most of the dirt and germs.

Fertilizers & Soil

The Chinese Elm requires no special soil or fertilizers. However, it is ideal to choose soil that drains well due to its low moisture endurance. The tree also thrives with regular fertilizers and some liquid chemical fertilizers. Lastly, the tree needs no chemicals or additives in winter since it lies dormant during colder months.


Chinese Elm trees are quick-growing and reshape themselves very easily to fit their surroundings. However, it is vital to repot them every couple of years when they are young. If you fail to do it regularly, their roots may grow crooked and tangle with each other. Springtime is the best for repotting the Chinese Elm at any stage.

Diseases and Pests

Bonsai Chinese Elms usually stay safe from pests when you care for them well. However, spider mites can infest it when the humidity is too low. Spraying the plant with a little water helps reduce the risk of these pests. Moreover, you can use pesticides that complement the Bonsai tree. However, you must avoid synthetic chemicals as they might cause the Chinese Elm to shed all of its leave.

Tools Needed for Bonsai Tree Chinese Elm Pruning

The Chinese Elm does not require any fancy tools for pruning. However, the tree has many fine branches in intricate patterns that you must cut carefully. A pair of concave cutters are an essential tool for your Bonsai tree Chinese Elm. Pruning can often scar tree branches, but a concave cutter provides a smooth and delicate finish with minimal harm. You can also use some tweezers, pruning brushes, or shears to add some details to your tree.

How to Prune Bonsai Tree Chinese Elm

Pruning a Bonsai tree is one of the toughest parts of growing one. The Chinese Elm tree requires pruning more often than most Bonsai trees as it thickens quickly. If you leave the tree untended for long, it will grow a network of unruly, smaller branches that will intertwine.

There are two methods of pruning a Bonsai tree: structural and maintenance pruning. The former technique refers to the initial pruning that gives a tree a desirable shape. After that, you can regularly practice maintenance pruning to maintain the existing Bonsai style.

It would help if you initiated structural pruning right before new leaves start growing. Consequently, the tree will retain a natural-looking shape quicker during full bloom. You can perform maintenance pruning any time of the year. However, you must ensure not to prune over a third of the tree’s total foliage.

How to Wire Bonsai Tree Chinese Elm

After you prune out the unnecessary branches from your Chinese Elm tree, you must wire it. The Chinese Elm often has wild and unpredictable growth. So, using standard wiring or guy wire to shape it is best.

When wiring a Bonsai tree, your goal should be to use minimal wire. However, you do not need to refrain from using it whenever necessary. Wiring the Chinese Elm when it is young is vital. You can remove it six to nine months after the tree retains the new shape. While the Chinese Elm requires direct sunlight, you can place it in partial shade when you wire it because the metal may heat up.

How to Make Cuts to Bonsai Tree Chinese Elm

Cutting Bonsai Chinese Elms is an intricate art. One must ensure that the plant appears natural even after you shape it, so it will not become unruly when the tree starts growing again. However, this does not mean you cannot cut it according to your preference.

Every Chinese Elm has a unique appearance. You can select a shape that appears the most natural with your Bonsai tree and masterfully cut it. First, you must decide the areas of the tree you want to cut. For example, if it appears denser on one side, you can decrease the volume of the branches or leaves on that side. Once you plan the process, you can start cutting with concave pruners for more smoothness.

The initial cutting requires the most skill. After that, you need to continue shaping it. Also, if you make a mistake or damage the wrong branch, do not panic. The tree will heal itself if you do not harm the area further.

Bonsai Tree Chinese Elm Styles

This section entails some traditional ways to style a Chinese Elm Bonsai, and every pattern resembles the tree’s natural growth. You can even take inspiration from these styles and create a unique design for your tree.

  • If you want to draw more attention to your tree’s trunk, you can select the Hokidachi and Chokkan styles.
  • The Kengai and Shakkan styles help your tree to resemble a deviation from its natural inclination due to the wind.
  • Han-kengai also variates the trunk’s growth direction, but it does not need wiring.
  • The Yose-eu style is excellent for Chinese Elms since they grow very closely together.


Chinese Elm Bonsai trees are modest and make any environment seem welcoming. So, to add this touch of elegance to your daily life, you must learn how to care for the tree. This article covers all necessary tips regarding caring for a Bonsai Chinese Elm, from identifying to pruning it. So, follow our guide to growing the perfect Bonsai tree, the Chinese Elm.

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