Chinese Elm


CHINESE ELM (Ulmus parvifolia)

It is one of the most popular elm species used in Bonsai. It develops fine ramification and starts resembling a mature elm in nature quickly. It is indigenous to South-East Asia and China. What makes this a great Bonsai is that it develops a beautiful scaling bark with orange patches and can be kept indoors and outdoors. Out of all the indoor species of Bonsai, the Chinese Elm is the hardiest, making it perfect for Canadian weather, where temperatures can fluctuate drastically in short periods. 


Watering: it does not withstand drought very well but does not like a lot of moisture either. So it is best to water when the top layer is dry.

Training: ideal for shaping with standard wiring. 

Pruning: the trunk of this tree thickens quickly and requires pruning to direct ramification. Unkept, it will soon grow out of control. Pruning is recommended in the Fall. 

Repotting: it is recommended to be repotted every other year when young. Once developed (15 years or older), you can repot every 4-5 years. Regardless of age, it is best to repot in the Spring. 


YOUNG: 12" - 14" tall, comes in a 6" grower's pot.

MATURE: 14" - 18" tall, comes with a medium ceramic 8inch pot.

These are not seeds - But an Actual Living Bonsai Tree.

Please see our Choosing a Bonsai page for the age and dimensions regarding the different stages of our Bonsai (Baby, Young, & Mature).

Soil (Substrate)

Bonsai soils are usually a mixture of organic potting compost (Pine Bark or Forest Floor), Akadamapumice, lava rock in varying amounts. 

It is important for the soil have good water retention while also draining well, along with very good aeration. The quality of the soil directly affects the health, size and growth of your tree. One of the worst things you can do to your tree is plant it in regular garden soil. Garden soil hardens when it drys and can often lead to a disadvantage when growing a Bonsai. 

Soil mixtures can be purchased here, but given their weight and cost of shipping, you can also easily make your own. 


Depending on the type of Bonsai you're growing, here are the general formulas for successful mixtures. 

Deciduous Tree (Leafy and looses leafs in the fall)

50% Akadama

20% Pumice

20% Lava Rock

10% Potting Compost


Coniferous Tree (Evergreen like Juniper, Cedar)

1/3 Akadama

1/3 Pumice

1/3 Lava Rock


If you are not able to check on your Bonsai's moisture levels daily, add more Akadama to the mix. 

Given how these soils erode over time, repotting every 2-3 years is required. 


Here are some suitable replacements if you cannot find the recommended types of soil.

  • Akadama - fine fired or baked clays, some even recommend cat litter as a substitute. 
  • Pumice - fine crushed aggregates, expanded shale and vermiculite.
  • Lava Rock - This can be replaced with fine gravel or you can also look into purchasing a larger lava rock at a hardware or gardening centre and crushing it. 



One of the best and easiest ways to fertilize your Bonsai, is to add a liquid fertilizer mix when water your Bonsai's once a month during the spring/summer. If your Bonsai looses leaves in the winter there is no need to fertilize it then. If you have a coniferous tree, fertilizing the tree once in the beginning of winter and once in the middle of winter should be sufficient.


Customer Reviews

Based on 9 reviews
Karen Rammage (Toronto, CA)
Chinese elm

This was a gift to my husband and he was so surprised and happy. The bonsai was packed perfectly. Amazing company spectacular customer service. Will definitely be purchasing another tree soon.

Mike Andrews (London, CA)
Chinese Elm report

The Chinese Elm came in such great condition and was packed absolutely perfect, I must say, it has lost alot of its leafs during the transition period. Alot more then I expected and way more then 20% which is what I read on the website for care and maintenance that said what to expect during the early times of the boslnsai tree ownership. It has lost well over 50% of the leaves during this period. I believe I have it in the right sunny spot now and have the watering/misting times correctly so I am hoping the leaves will start to grow back soon. Regardless, I am very happy with the purchase ! Thanks again.

Romanus Alexander (Vancouver, CA)

I’m very happy with my Chinese Elm. Excited to have an outdoor bonsai ;0

Jed M. (Lillooet, CA)
Young Chinese Elm

Tree arrived in excellent condition. Looks just as good as the example images on the site, even has a nice twist in the trunk. Very satisfied.

Nick Frate (Montreal West, CA)
Chinese Elm is growing along nicely

I purchased a young Chinese Elm back in September and it was delivered in solid packaging. The elm was quite nice and although its lost allot of its leaves, which is normal due to the new environment, it has since grown new leaves and other ones are budding along. Support is friendly, responsive and helpful with questions I had. I have have since bought other items like a young Juniper, substrate, pot and akadama clay. All good quality.

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