The Chinese elm bonsai is probably the second most know species as a bonsai beside the juniper. This species of bonsai is also massively produce in China and is found to be sold in major retail store in America. The Chinese elm bonsai is often grown with a stake and tied to the stake a different place to produce a S type of trunk. For bonsai enthusisast, this style lack taste and refinement, but to the non-initiated, this bonsai represent a great bonsai.
The Chinese elm bonsai, or ulmus parvifolia, is capable of great things bonsai wise. Its natural small leaves are just perfect and will cut down on time as you don’t need to apply leaf reduction techniques as you grow your bonsai tree.
This species is often used in penjing (Chinese Bonsai) as it can mimic small trees because of its good ramification and small leaves.
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Chinese elm Cultivars
Ulmus parvifolia ‘Catlin’
This cultivar will produce small leaves and twiggy branches. The leaves are dark green and shiny. One other quality of this cultivar is the horizontal branches it can produce.
Ulmus parvifolia ‘Corticosa’
This cultivar will produce a very corky bark which makes it a very attractive cultivar producing nice specimen. On the down side, it will produce large leaves that will need leaf reduction technique applied to them in order to keep all things balanced.
Ulmus parvifolia ‘Hokkaido’
A very popular cultivar because its sport so many bonsai qualities. Firstly, this cultivar is a fast grower, second, it as very tiny leaves, third, it as short internodes and lastly, it as corky bark at a very young age. On the down side, it is a very fragile plant, so handle with care, especially if you wire your plant. The best method for developing this tree is clip and grow.
Ulmus parvifolia ‘Seiju’
This cultivar is known to be the big brother of the Hokkaido cultivar. It will presents the same bonsai qualities but on a larger plant. Being a naturally larger plant, it can be easily wired as the wood and stem are more flexible.
Basic Chinese Elm Bonsai Care
The Chinese elm tree will best grow in full sun but could also give some great result with partial shade. Can be grown indoor, but lack of light will be a problem.
The Chinese elm trees will not a lot of water especially in these hot and sunny summer days. A well drained soil will prevent root rot.
Feeding and Fertilizer
Too much fertilizer, especially high nitrogen ones, will make the leaves of the Chinese elm grow bigger. Avoid over fertilizing by fertilizing a few times in the summer with low content fertilizer.
Chinese Elm Bonsai Techniques
The shaping of the Chinese elm is mostly achieve pruning and letting it grow. This is the clip and grow method. The fragile bark will often be damaged if you try to wire the tree.
Chinese Elm Bonsai Diseases and Pests
The Chinese elm is subject to the dutch elm disease. A fungi that will produce black spot on the leaves which will eventually fall. Some cultivars are more resistant to this disease and some are near 100% resistant to it.
Chinese Elm Bonsai propagation
The Chinese elm tree can be reproduced by all possible methods.
Chinese elm seeds can be sow in late fall for early spring germination. As with most species, growing a Chinese elm by seeds, will reproduce a generic Chinese elm and may not reproduce the qualities of a specific cultivar.
Chinese elm cuttings will reproduce the exact same genetic set as the parent plant. This is useful to reproduce a specific cultivar. This method is also useful as it will produce a quicker bonsai tree. Rooting is quite easy and can be helped with rooting hormones. Cutting can be taken early summer.
Layering can be done, but with some smaller cultivars and trees, space between internodes and branch might be too small to efficiently do a layer.