Chinese Elm (Ulmus Parvifolia) Care Sheet

(Ulmus Parvifolia)

 Tips and Tricks for Caring for Your Chinese Elm Tree

The Chinese Elm is the perfect choice for bonsai beginners because it is slow-growing and tolerant, giving beginner’s plenty of time and room for error. This semi-deciduous tree can survive harsh indoor environments and with proper care, will bring you joy for many years.

The Chinese Elm thrives in full sun and/or partial shade. Indoor trees can be moved outside in the summer but need brought back inside during winter to keep them protected from frost. Direct morning light without too much heat. Be careful in the summertime, as extremely hot sun rays can burn the tree’s leaves. Chinese Elms do best in zones 5 to 9.

Though these trees are generally tolerant of different temperatures, they do best in temperatures 60°-70°F. They do not like a lot of change in temperature or air spaces. You can keep your Chinese Elm outdoors, but it needs brought in when temperatures drop below 60°F. Mist a couple times a week to help with humidity.

The Chinese Elm cannot endure long periods of dryness or constant moisture. Wait until the soil is dry and then water generously. Make sure the entire root mass is watered. These trees prefer the soil slightly moist but cannot tolerate the soil being dry for too long. In the winter, they require less water.

We recommend using our Deciduous Bonsai Soil Mix, which is two parts Akadama, one part pumice, and one part lava.
Use plenty of fertilizer during growing season. An organic, low-nitrogen based fertilizer, like our Maintain Pellets, is best. Fertilize once every two weeks during growing season and through fall. No fertilization is needed during the winter.

When your tree is young, repot every two years. As they grow older and larger, they can be repotted in longer intervals. The best time to repot is in the spring. After repotting, keep in a shady location for several weeks to help new roots grow. The Chinese Elm’s roots often grow crooked and entwined, so root pruning needs to be done with extra care and attention to create a nice nebari.

Cuttings are the easiest way to propagate. Using seeds is possible but not the easiest way to propagate this species. The best way to propagate your Chinese Elm is with 6” cuttings taken with sharp, clean scissors in the summer. Place your cutting in a glass or water and the roots will soon develop.

The Chinese Elm thickens rather fast and will require trimming often to produce dense branches. Let shoots extend three or four nodes before pruning back to one or two leaves. Branches can be pruned all year, but the best time to prune is in late autumn. Allow branches to develop eight leaf pairs then trim back to two or three.

The Chinese Elm is ideal for shaping with standard wiring and guy-wire techniques. The classical umbrella shape is a popular style for these trees. Shaping is usually done through pruning, but you can wire – just be careful not to break or scar delicate branches. Wiring can be done any time during the year, but only do shoots when they’re slightly woody. Aluminum wire is usually used on this tree.

Spider mites or scale can attack your tree when humidity is low. Frequent spraying with water helps to deter pests and diseases. Be careful when using certain products on your Chinese Elm – thinned lime sulfur or systemic pesticides will cause your tree to lose all its leaves.


Deciduous Bonsai Soil Mix
Precision Bonsai Pruning Needle Nose Scissors
Kikuwa Cut Paste - 160G Jar
Bonsai Raffia



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!