CHINESE ELM (ulmus ‘parvifolia’)
Chinese Elms are strong, adaptable, and make a great tree for those just starting out in bonsai. The Chinese Elm is native to East Asia, where it can grow up to 60 feet in its natural form. The Chinese Elm has the unique ability among bonsai trees to thrive either indoors or outdoors, although it may drop some of its leaves in either situation since it is semi-deciduous. Chinese Elms form a graceful upright rounded canopy with small, dark green leaves, and have a leathery appearance with a shiny top side and small, blunt teeth and can develop twiggy branching. One of the advantages to growing a Chinese Elm bonsai tree is that, unlike many other elm trees, it is not prone to Dutch elm disease.
How To Take Proper Care Of Your Indoor Bonsai Tree
Bonsai is the reproduction of natural tree forms in miniature. This art form has its origin in Japan and China where it has been practiced for centuries. Bonsai are grown in pots and are totally dependent on you for their care.
With proper care, your bonsai will remain healthy, beautiful and miniature for many years to come. Since your bonsai is a living miniature tree, it will increase in beauty as it matures through the years. The instructions below are just the basics and, therefore, we recommend that you purchase one of the many fine books available on the subject.
PLACEMENT SPRING, SUMMER & FALL
The Chinese Elm will thrive indoors in high light and appreciates being kept outdoors during the spring and summer. When night time temperatures drop below 45 degrees we suggest that you place the tree on a windowsill or on a table in front of one.
Once nightly lows begin approaching the 40 degree mark, it is time to bring your indoor bonsai inside. The ideal indoor location is on a window sill facing south. An east or west exposure is second best. A northern exposure will work, but will necessitate the use of "grow lights" to provide sufficient light to keep your bonsai healthy. Four to six hours of sunlight per day should suffice. If you can provide more, so much the better.
The watering of your bonsai must never be neglected. Apply water before the soil appears dry -- never allow the soil to become completely dry. It is a good idea to use a moisture meter until you get to know the requirements of your bonsai tree. Water should be applied until it begins running out of the holes in the bottom of your pot. It doesn’t really matter “how” you water your tree, but rather that when you are finished the tree has been well watered.
During the cold months, when your bonsai is inside, we recommend placing it in a shallow tray filled with a layer of gravel with water added. This provides extra moisture around the tree as the water evaporates and reduces the amount of moisture lost to modern heating systems.
Fertilizing is also necessary if your bonsai is to remain healthy and beautiful. Since your bonsai is growing in such a small amount of soil it is necessary to replenish the soil's supply of nutrients periodically. Any general-purpose liquid fertilizer will do fine and is available at most garden centers. We suggest that fertilizers be used at half their recommended strength. Fertilizer should be applied at least once a month except during winter. Your bonsai will also respond well to foliar feeding, with a water-soluble fertilizer applied every other month as a spray.
This brief explanation of basic care does not cover training. Training deals with the art of bonsai and should be thoroughly understood before undertaking -- or left to a professional. However, most of the true bonsai trees you find have already been through their training period, thus requiring only periodic trimming and pinching to remain miniature.
TRIMMING & PINCHING
Trimming and pinching keep your tree miniature. Pinch and trim back the new growth to the farthest safe point. Never should all of the new growth be removed. A little should be left to sustain the health of the tree. Tropical and sub-tropical trees used for bonsai will require periodic pinching and trimming throughout the year. Since different trees grow at different rates, it is necessary to evaluate each tree’s rate of growth and adjust your trimming and pinching to accommodate it.
INSECTS & DISEASES
Since your bonsai is a tree in miniature, it can be treated for insects and diseases the same as any other tree. If you discover any insects or diseases, visit our website where you will be able to obtain the necessary products to eliminate the problem.