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How to Care for your Chinese Elm Bonsai

The beautiful Chinese Elm Bonsai is a must-see and must-grow plant. With its unique shape, elegant leaves, and its distinctive branch ramification, the Chinese Elm Bonsai is a truly remarkable plant. 

If you recently purchased or have begun to grow this plant, you may be asking yourself, “How do I care for this beauty?”. Well, no worries. We are here to help!

Chinese Elm Bonsai
Image Source: Bonsai Empire

Chinese Elm Bonsai

First off, let’s first talk about the man of the hour; The Chinese Elm Bonsai.

The Chinese Elm Bonsai is a native plant to the East Asia region. This graceful plant originated in Japan, but quickly spread to China and Korea. These tree’s can grow up to 80 feet tall, but have been cultivated over hundreds of years to be miniature, indoor trees. These tree’s are beginner friendly and provide an unrivaled plant experience.

The Chinese Elm Bonsai is a historically complex plant. It was originally brought indoors because ancient Chinese Buddhist wanted to “Bring the outdoors in”, but since then it has become a symbol for many things. The Chinese Elm Bonsai symbolizes peace, love, harmony, and balance. In fact, this tree is often referred to as “The Tree of Harmony”. If you are looking to bring a calming, one-of-a-kind, piece of natural art, The Chinese Elm Bonsai is the plant for you!

A woman is watering her Chinese Elm Bonsai.

The Art of Bonsai

The cultivating of a Bonsai is an ancient form of art. Through proper care, the growing of a natively large plant can take on a miniature looking form. Although it originated in China, The Japanese are the one’s who refined the Bonsai practice.

Stemming from the Chinese practice of “Penjing“, the Japanese took on their own twist when the Bonsai was created sometime in the 6th century. The word “Bonsai” translates quite literally to “plant in a basin”, in Japanese. Up until recent times, Bonsai’s were traditionally only for Buddhist monks and students, as well as royalty. 

Leaves of Bonsai.
Image Source: Bonsai Empire

How to Keep your Bonsai Healthy

The Chinese Elm Bonsai Tree is a fairly easy plant to grow and maintain. A few key points to keep in mind is this plant needs both sun and partial shade. Also, the Chinese Elm needs generous watering, ample organic fertilizer, and a little pruning and wiring according to Bonsai Empire.

Indoor Bonsai on table

Indoor Bonsai


If you are growing Indoor Bonsai Trees, make sure during the summer months to set it outside in order to allow natural sunlight to fulfill its needs. During the winter months on the other hand, keep in mind that the Chinese Elm Bonsai can survive some frost, but in general it does better if placed inside. 


No matter the location, watering is extremely important to your Bonsai’s health. Bonsai plants require consistent watering so always check the soil surface and make sure it is damp. Get a water mister to spray your Bonsai daily to ensure its health. If your plant seems parched and the soil is too dry, you actually can submerge your plant completely underwater for a few seconds so it can replenish its watering needs.


In order for a Bonsai to be healthy, this plant needs sufficient nutrition. Make sure when you are picking your fertilizer, you keep a couple things in mind. One, your fertilizer should always be organic in order to ensure the plant’s optimal health. Secondly, chose a slow release formula which will limit maintenance and promote consistently strong root growth. Lastly, there are specific fertilizers made for Bonsai’s so make sure you are getting a Bonsai Fertilizer.


In order to create the graceful appearance of a typical indoor bonsai, you must prune and wire your bonsai once new shoots have reached 2-3 cm. First off, set your plant on a table or counter so you are approximately at eye-level with your tree. Then with your fingers, pinch the stem in order to take off any dead leaves or stems. Keep in mind this trick is better than cutting your plant with scissors due to the fact you are getting the entirety of the stem, not just trimming it. With the proper pruning and technique, your Bonsai will eventually take on its famous, umbrella shape.

Outdoor Chinese Elm Bonsai
Image Source: Bonsai Empire

Outdoor Bonsai


Similar to indoor Bonsai’s, outdoor bonsai trees need proper placement in order to optimize growth. Place your Chinese Elm Bonsai in a location that provides sunlight and partial shade. During warm months, the shade will allow your Bonsai to get a break from the heat and during the cold months, the sunlight will provide enough light to fight away frost and snow. By having the proper Bonsai placement, your plant plant can excel greatly.


Watering your outdoor Chinese Elm Bonsai is imperative. Rainfall will be able to provide your plant with some water, but depending on your climate, you will have to adjust according to water your plant properly. An easy way to properly is to get a drip system which will water your plant naturally and consistently. If not, it will be up to you to maintain damp soil for your plant. 


Food for your Bonsai is important. In order to have a beautiful Bonsai, your plant must have proper care and nutrition. Once again choose an organic, slow-release formula to limit maintenance and optimize plant health. Pro Organic is a great option to keep in mind.


When it comes to pruning and wiring your outdoor Bonsai, it does not take as much work or care as an indoor Chinese Elm Bonsai. While outdoors, your plant has the ability to grow anywhere and any way it pleases. As long as your plant has the proper placement, watering, and food, your Bonsai design will take on its natural art form. 

Pro Organic Bonsai Food.


The Chinese Elm Bonsai is a beautiful and unique plant. Not only is it extremely recognizable, but it also offers a distinctive shape everyone knows and love. With the proper care and the tools given to you above, your Bonsai will be spectacular and will turn you into a Bonsai expert. 

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