Japanese Zelkova (Zelkova Zerrata) Care Sheet

(Zelkova Zerrata)

 Tips and Tricks for Caring for Your Japanese Zelkova Tree

The Japanese Zelkova is a deciduous tree native to Japan, Korea, and Taiwan. The leaves are dark green throughout the summer, changing to yellow, orange, red, and purple through the fall. These trees can tolerate a slight frost and are easy to care for.

During the growing season, Zelkovas prefer full sun. If the sunlight is very intense in your area, make sure to place in semi shade during the hottest weeks of the summer. It is best to protect the roots from frost.
Zelkovas do well in zones 5 to 8.

Zelkovas prefer high humidity, so make sure to monitor humidity levels. Mist regularly and provide a humidity tray to help. While Zelkovas are tolerant to slight frost, they cannot survive temperatures below

The watering schedule for your Zelkova will depend on the depth of the container and the climate. Zelkovas need watered regularly, but make sure not to overwater, as that can cause root rot. Do not let the root ball dry out, making sure to keep it moist in winter.
Less water is required in colder months. During summer, however, you might need to water twice daily in sunny locations.

We recommend our Deciduous Bonsai Soil Mix for your Japanese Zelkova.
Apply a solid pellet fertilizer every four weeks or use a liquid fertilizer weekly during the growing season. Do not fertilize if the leaves have dropped. Fertilize your Zelkova from spring to fall.

Repot your tree every two to three years. When repotting, plant in a shallow oval or rectangular pot. It is crucial to use dry soil and do not apply pressure to the soil. Gently shake the container to settle the soil then water immediately. Zelkovas can develop perfect radial nebaris.

Zelkovas can be propagated through seeds, cuttings, air layering, and greenwood cuttings in summer and hardwood cuttings in the winter.

Allow new shoots to grow until they produced four to six leaves, then cut back to two. After leaf fall, prune thicker twigs and very long shoots. To promote ramification, young Zelkovas can be defoliated in summer. Any branches or twigs that interfere with the overall look of the tree should be removed.

The best time to wire is in autumn, or spring before the buds open. Young twigs can grow crooked and must be corrected to achieve the perfect silhouette. In fall, tie branches and twigs together into bundles and tie the bundles together in order to create the broom shape. Remove wire in spring.

The Japanese Zelkova is susceptible to aphids, leafhoppers, gall mites, and spider mites. Pesticides specific to the problem you are having will solve these issues.


Deciduous Bonsai Soil Mix
KIKU™ Aluminum Training Wire
KIKU™ Root Hook
Fertilizer Pellets



After years of enjoying the hobby of Bonsai, Superfly Bonsai was born. It started with a single bonsai soil mix, known as Pro Mix, and quickly gained popularity. This led Superfly to add more mixes to meet the needs of different trees, climates, and personal preferences. After merging with Meco Bonsai and KIKU™ Tools, Superfly Bonsai now offers over 1,000 bonsai-related products to both the wholesale and retail market.

One of the best ways to learn about bonsai is to join a local bonsai club. Look for clubs and classes in your area to further your bonsai knowledge!