Bonsai Growing 101: How to Take Care of Your Chinese Elm

If there’s one trend in 2020 that helped a lot of people survive through their lockdown worries, it’s reigniting their love for plants and the green. But if you want to take your plant care skills to the next level, try getting yourself a bonsai plant, particularly a Chinese Elm. Native to East Asia, the Chinese Elm is one of the most popular bonsai trees, especially for beginners. If you want to know why then take a look at this guide before ordering your own bonsai starter kit.

Chinese Elm Tree Features

The Chinese Elm bonsai plant is an extremely robust tree species that is very much suitable for bonsai design. It can tolerate a wide range of different conditions, making it an easy choice for those who are new to the art of growing bonsai trees. Chinese Elm is most suitable as a semi-outdoor bonsai and as an indoor bonsai as well. Due to its high cut compatibility, predictable growth pattern, and easy-to-maintain features, it’s the ideal choice for beginners.

Looking at the tree’s physical features, it has a beautiful, distinctive dark grey to reddish-brown bark that turns fissure and corky when mature. The branching shape of the Chinese Elmis quite lovely and has some delicate oval-shaped toothed leaves with fresh green colour and a delightfully tiny leaf.


If you’re going to take care of bonsai trees, it’s essential to be observant of the right temperature for them to thrive. Though generally tolerant, the Chinese Elm doesn’t like drafts or a lot of variation in temperature. Most indoor tropical bonsai trees prefer temperatures between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. As mentioned above, they’re also considered semi-outdoor bonsai since they like to be kept outdoors in the summer. However, if the temperature drops below 60 degrees, it’s time to put them back inside again.


Lighting is also another critical factor to consider. Interestingly, Chinese Elms need a lot of light. It’s best to put your bonsai in direct morning sunlight due to its low intensity. It’s best to keep them in a room where they can get the most light during the day. However, during warm months, the direct afternoon sun can be too much for them and can even lead to their delicate leaves burning.


Of course, don’t forget about adequately watering your plants. Chinese Elms prefer their soil to be slightly moist and allowed to dry out a little between watering sessions, making it a practical choice if you like to travel a lot. As long as you keep the soil moist, your bonsai will be happy. As a general rule, you should stick your finger about a half-inch into the soil to see if it still has enough moisture. If not, then it’s likely time to water it again.


In almost any bonsai plant, pruning is necessary to maintain the right shape and height of your plant. Perhaps the most important feature of Chinese Elm trees is that they’re a lot less sensitive than other bonsai species, in that they can be pruned all year. They do well when new shoots are allowed to develop eight leaf pairs and then trim them back to two or three.

While you can prune your Chinese Elm at all times throughout the year, prune the shoots only when they have become slightly woody.


Chinese Elms are perhaps among the most readily available and most forgiving bonsai trees to work with. If you’re still new to taking care of these miniature trees, get yourself a Chinese Elm and follow these care tips.

Bonsai Shop is your source for bonsai supplies in Australia. From pots and tools to fertilisers and other accessories, we have everything a bonsai enthusiast needs to further their craft. Take advantage of our exclusive range of DIY bonsai starter kits to get you started on your Bonsai journey. Visit our store page and shop for bonsai supplies today!