CHINESE ELM (Ulmus Parvifolia)
The Chinese Elm is one of the most popular choices for bonsai. This tree can
easily grow up to 60 feet in the wild. However, the Chinese Elm can also be
trained as the perfect bonsai specimen. When kept inside, this particular tree
is considered a semi-evergreen but when grown outdoors, it falls into the
deciduous category. The leaves of the Chinese Elm are small and leathery. The
dark green color is shiny on the top with tiny blunt teeth. Fruit grows on the
Chinese Elm, which then matures in the fall months.
Native to East Asia, the bark can be a variety of color from dark gray to cream
to reddish brown. While the Chinese Elm is a beautiful tree, the bark is its
most distinctive feature. Depending on the variety of tree you choose, some will
have rough, almost cork-like bark that actually becomes cracked with age, while
others have smooth bark. Interestingly, the Chinese Elm with smooth bark tends
to be weaker than the trees with rough bark.
The Chinese Elm is typically resistant to the deadly Dutch Elm disease, making
it a great choice for bonsai. Although considered hardy, this type of tree needs
to be protected from cold weather and harsh elements. After the growing period
in the early spring, the tree needs to be carefully pruned with just one to two
nodes remaining near the main branch.
This tree requires good, year round water, remaining moist without over
watering. Then every one to three years, the Chinese Elm should be repotted,
again in the spring. For pruning, this should be done one month prior to or one
month after pruning is performed to avoid shock. Because the Chinese Elm is so
hardy and strong, it can tolerate both shade and full sun. However, during the
hot summer months, some shade is required to avoid drying out the soil.