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Bonsai care help needed!
Hi there, I recently bought a Chinese elm of you guys. The tree is great and is doing really well. I have one query the tree is expanded a lot over a 3 week period huge shoots have grown now I have done a lot of reading about my tree I have bought various tree books and in each book it explains prune only in early spring to encourage new growth. Now with it getting so out of control do I just leave the tree to its own devices and prune in early spring or do I prune the new shoots:/? I feed the tree on rain water although its indoors. I believe this enhances growth also please can you shine some light on mine and my trees situation
many thanks


Hi Dean,

Thank you for your e-mail.
I wondered if you would mind if we used your e-mail on our website because I think other readers may have similar questions.
What you have read is incorrect.
The Chinese Elms grow all year, but faster in the spring.
You need to prune it when it needs it, to keep the shape.
If it is out of control please hard prune it , back to about 4 new leaves.
It will look bare to start with but will encourage new buds very quickly and will promote dense foliage pads rather than long straggly shoots.
Chinese Elms are great and respond really well to pruning.
Rain water is great but I would recommend feeding it once a week with bonsai fertiliser too.
Please bear in mind that if you hard prune your bonsai it will not require as much water initially,

I hope this helps
Kind regards

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16 replies

  1. Hello.

    I was recently gifted an Oriental Tea Tree Bonsai that came from your website. I have placed it in my room right by the window as its the brightest spot in my room. I’ve only watered it when the soil starts to feel dry, as I didn’t want to risk over watering it. Practically all of the leaves have fallen off and this is starting to worry me. What am I doing wrong and what can I do to improve the situation? I really don’t want my bonsai to die.

    Thanks for any help,

    – Arran

    1. Dear Arran,
      Thank you for your enquiry.
      It is not uncommon to lose a few leaves when you first have a bonsai; this is as the bonsai re-acclimatises – but this seems pretty drastic.
      Have the leaves changed colour?
      Has the bonsai been exposed to an air freshener?
      If you are able to send us a photograph that would be a great help,
      many thanks


        Those are before and after shots. I think they leaves may have gone slightly yellower, but not by much. And no air freshener or anything like that. It seems like it’ll have lost all its leaves before long and I don’t really know what to do.

      2. Hi Arran,
        Thanks for the photos. The remaining leaves look healthy.
        The Oriental Tea Tree likes a warm position away from draughts – could it have not cold?
        Please clear away the old leaves – it will require slightly less water now that it has less foliage.
        Kind regards

  2. Hi I have a Sageretia Bonsai Tree that I got for Christmas.I have it on a humidity tray and watered it,now the leaves look like they are starting to wither,what can I do ??.Robert

    1. Dear Robert,
      thank you for your enquiry.
      How often do you water the Sageretia bonsai? Are the leaves going crispy or limp and soft?
      If you are able to send us a photograph that would be most helpful, we can the advise you as to what may be wrong.
      kind regards

  3. Hi Lloyd,
    Have watered it a couple of times,when compost feels dry.I submerge pot in water for about 15 to 20 mins.Leaves look crispy.How do I upload photo`s.Robert

    1. Dear Robert, I think the bonsai has become too dry, hence the crispy leaves. These will drop off and hopefully new shoots will emerge. Please water every 2-3 days and submerge once a week. It will probably take a couple of months at this time of year to recover. All the best
      Please send a photo to [email protected] if you are still concerned.

      1. Hi Lloyd,thanks very much for your help.What type of feed do you recommend.Robert

      2. Hi Robert,
        I would recommend:–t92-
        Please use it once a fortnight during winter & once a week during spring and summer for indoor bonsai.
        all the best

      3. Thanks for the photos Robert,
        It would appear as though the bonsai has dried out at some point so the leaves have dehaydrated.
        I think all those leaves will drop off and hopefully you will see new shoots in 6-8 weeks.
        please check daily for water – if the soil is wet to the touch do not water. As soon as the soil is just damp please water well.
        I hope this helps
        all the best

  4. Hi Lloyd,
    Thanks for your help,will keep you updated.

  5. So I am currently trying to bonsai a gable glory maple. It grows between 10 to 15 feet but I only want it to be like three planted in a container. Can I do this ? And even if it’s not technically a bonsai can it be dwarfed like that. I really want it to work right now is apx 1 ft

    1. Hi Brandon,

      We advise that you let it grow until the trunk is at the thickness you want it to be. Don’t worry about the height at this point, as it can be reduced in later years. The trunk thickness is the key thing to focus on in the early years of growing a bonsai, as branches and height are much easier to amend.


  6. Hi I have had a wisteria in a pot for a few years and want to make it into a bonsai as it has a nice shape, my question is the tree has three trunks about finger thickness, is it possible to divide it into three if there are roots connected to each trunk, or will this weaken and kill the plant. Cheers Steve

    1. Hi Steve
      Thanks for your enquiry. This winter when the wisteria is out of leaf you will need to investigate the root ball by carefully teasing out the roots and seeing if the trunks separate. You may find they all separate or one does. Please do not try this when in leaf. The best time is late winter just before the buds start to swell so the bonsai does not have to go through winter after disturbing the roots. You may be able to ascertain this by reducing the soil level from the top and not disturbing the roots too much at all. We hope this helps
      Kind regards
      Bonsai Direct

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