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Lets look at the health of this Chinese Elm

We have just received this question abut a Chinese Elm from Colin:

Please help, as a birthday present last year my wife purchased a Chinese Elm (indoor) as I want to look at it all year round along with my other Bonsai sited in the conservatory. All the trees are fed on a daily basis from the same watering can and are doing nicely including a cutting from the Chinese Elm. My first Elm is about 460mm high and the trunk is 90mm circum.In march this year the leaves started to grow but then wained back and shrivelled today I have no leaves and the bark is splitting badly, i care deeply about all the trees i have and carefully nurture them but I am not getting any good response to my dear Elm, can any one help please, i am quite happy to have my e-mail address displayed.
Thank you for any assistance.
Colin

Bonsai Direct Reply:

Dear Colin,
Thank you for your enquiry. Please could you let me know if the leaves changed colour on your Chinese Elm bonsai just before they started to drop. Did they go spotty or black at the tips or crispy?
Please could you also check if the bonsai is still alive. You can do this by making some small nicks in the trunk and branches with a sharp knife. If the layer beneath the bark (the cambium layer) is still green the this is a great sign.
Also; I wondered if any other bonsai have lost any leaves. Chinese Elms can be susceptible to black spot, for example, so we need to find the cause.
If you get chance it would be great to have a photograph. You could e-mail me and I would then be able to make some recommendations.
Please could you clarify if you feed your bonsai daily with a bonsai fertiliser or if you just check for water daily.
My advice would be not to feed a sick bonsai becuase this can actually make things worse. please keep the soil just damp.
I look forward to some photographs,
kind regards
Sarah , Bonsai Direct

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170 replies

  1. We have an Chinese Elm Bonsai tree indoors, the tree has shed it’s leaves in Oct 11, some of the leaves grow back but not all & there are some white stuff (I think its mildew but not sure) at the bottom of the tree. I just want to know if the tree is diseased or what we have done wrong & how we can put it right & save the tree. Please help me….?

    Lionel

    1. Dear Lionel,
      Thank you for your e-mail.
      The white mould on the soil of the bonsai is usually caused by slight over-watering. It is nothing to worry about and will not harm the bonsai. it can be removed easily with an old toothbrush and water but I would recommend that you check that your bonsai is not sat in water and only water when the soil is barely damp to the touch.
      The Chinese Elms have been dropping their leaves over the past 3-4 weeks; this should just be the old leaves and not the growing tips. This is normal leaf drop for the time of year and the new leaves should bud in about 4 weeks. This usually coincides with turning the central heating on!
      If you think the new growing tips are affected please could you send us a photograph of your indoor bonsai; just in case there is another cause.
      I hope this helps
      kind regards
      Sarah
      Bonsai Direct

  2. I got my indoor chinese elm in march 2012 as a birthday gift. It is in a fairly warm room and gets light from a nearby window. I water it every other day but i notice that the leaves are now falling and one of the branches is quite bare. Is this normal for this time of the year or am i doing something wrong. Thank uou

    1. Dear Valerie,
      Thank you for your question. It is possible that your bonsai needs watering daily if in a very warm position. Are the leaves changing colour or going papery/crispy?
      It is normal to lose a few leaves when you fist buy a bonsai but this would not result in a single branch going bare. It sounds like it is getting enough light.
      Would it be possible for you to e-mail me a couple of photos so that we can establish what is happening?
      My e-mail address is [email protected].
      Many thanks
      Sarah

      1. Thank you for your reply. Yes the leaves are going crispy and are now changing colour.

      2. Hi Valerie,
        If the leaves have gone crispy this is a definite indication that the bonsai has got too dry at some point. It is possible that all the leaves will drop.
        I would hope that at this time of year new buds should develop in the next 6-8 weeks.
        Please check for water daily and water well when the soil is barely damp (either by standing the bonsai in some water for 5 minutes or by pouring water all over the soil until it comes through the holes in the bottom).
        Please make sure that the bonsai is not in direct sun (should we have any!) during mid-summer.
        I hope this helps
        all the best
        Sarah

      3. Thank you for your reply I was concerned about overwatering the plant, but it seems that I had not given it enough. The plant willnot be in direct sunlight.

  3. I was given a Chinese Elm for Christmas and it has been perefctly healthy, I left it with friends for 2 weeks at the end of April and it dried out a lot, Ive been tying to make up for it but I think if anything, now I have overwatered the poor thing! The leaves that remain (nothing compared to before) are all crispy, but the soil is damp, there are not signs of new buds at the moment, do you think it’s too late for my bosai? 🙁

    1. Dear Robyn,
      Thank you for your enquiry.
      If the leaves went crispy your Chinese Elm bonsai has definitely dried out.
      Your are correct; the temptation is to over water it.
      Please give it a position with good daylight but out of hot direct sunlight.
      Please keep the soil just damp (not too wet). If you over-water the bonsai you could rot the roots – although this is a slow process.
      When a bonsai only has a few or no leaves it requires far less water.
      Basically you need to give the bonsai time – it will take at least 2 months before I would expect to see any new shoots but this is a great time of year for the bonsai to recover – I just hope it did not dry out totally.
      If you have a hand mister I would mist the branches daily in addition to watering.
      i hope this helps
      kind regards
      Sarah

  4. Hi Sarah,

    Thank you very much for the advice, I really hope it recovers!

    It was only over-wet for a week at the very most, so I hope this wasn’t long enough to rot the roots. I’ll be patient now and let it recover, fingers crossed! I’ve started misting it too so I’ll keep doing that.

    Thanks again,

    Robyn

    1. Hi Robyn,
      Over watering for one week would have no adverse affect at all. It sounds as though you are doing everything well.
      Good luck
      sarah

  5. Hi, I have a Chinese elm I received in April this year, at the start it was too hot indoors for it, so i’ve been keeping it outside(I live in scotland so not particularly hot). As we’ve been having colder weather moving into the winter season, I’ve brought it indoors as instructed to by books. I was watering it the other day by putting it in water and leaving it to soak up through the roots. Admittedly I forgot it was in there and had left it for around an hour, this is the first time it’s happened, but I’m worried i may have over watered it and don’t want the roots to die. Some of the leaves are turning a bit yellow but I’m hoping this is just due to the season change.

    A reply would be great, thanks.

    1. Dear Iain,
      Thank you for your enquiry.
      You have no need to be concerned – standing the bonsai in water occasionally is a great idea and it would only root the roots if left there for more than a few days.
      The yellowing of leaves is a normal seasonal change – what you have done is perfectly correct in bringing the Chinese Elm in for the winter.
      When you bring the bonsai inside the temperature will be warmer and the bonsai will want to start growing.
      It will drop some of the older leaves and this will be followed by a period of growth.
      I would then recommend putting it outdoor from May to October.
      I hope this helps
      Happy Christmas
      Sarah

  6. I have an older Chinese Elm bonsai that i bought from a reputable bonsai farm and kept outside until the temperature got too cold (Nov). I brought it inside in a basement so it could go dormant. I keep the soil moist but all the leaves have gone crispy.

    Will it be ok? Should I do something different with it? It’s far too cold outside but the inside of the house has too much heat for it to go dormant.

    Any help is appreciated!!

    Cheers

    1. Thank you for your enquiry.
      Normally 3 things can cause crispy leaves
      1. The bonsai has dried out
      2. The bonsai has been over-watered and has root rot so it cannot move the water to the branches efficiently.
      3. It is in such a hot position that the bonsai cannot transpire quickly enough and the branches dry out.

      I suspect that it is none of these and wonder if the bonsai was already getting cold outside in November and was reverting to being deciduous.
      Chinese Elm Bonsai can be hardened off and live outdoors but they will drop there leaves during winter.
      Are the leaves dropping?
      I wonder if you could send us a photo.
      Have you contacted the nursery where you purchased the bonsai; they might be able to advise as to whether this bonsai has been grown as an indoor or outdoor bonsai.
      Happy New Year,
      kind regards
      Sarah

  7. I have not contacted the farm yet, but I will be heading there to a one on one class soon.

    Yes, since I did not have a good indoor place for it in the winter I intentionally brought it inside to go dormant and revert to being deciduous. I just wasn’t sure if that meant ALL the leaves would fall off completely. The leaves are definitely dropping, but since I haven’t been moving it much there are many left on the tree (crispy). I suspect if i were to shake the tree a bit, most leaves will fall. As long as the tree will be ok come Spring, I don’t mind it being deciduous. I Just didn’t want to be doing any harm.

    Not sure if the deciduous dormancy is the cause of my crispy leaves, but I don’t think it was ever in a location that was too hot. If I had to guess whether it was over watered or under watered I would say maybe under watered? In either case, can the tree survive and be rehabilitated?

    I can send photos. Where can I send them?

    Thanks for taking the time. Much appreciated.

  8. hi…just want to ask regarding my chinese elms. i had repot it 3 months ago and now my elms currently had only branches without any leaves!!! 2 weeks after repot, all leaves start to wilt n leaving only branches. so my question is, how long my chinese elms will be in dormant stage before it start to grow back OR my elms had dead already? now my elms without any leaves for ALMOST 3 months…living in tropical area n put it under direct sunlight

    1. Thank you for your enquiry. It sounds like the bonsai has gone into stock following re-potting. I have not experienced this with a Chinese Elm before but obviously your conditions are different from ours. Did you remove much of the root ball during re-potting? A Chinese Elm will take at least 6-8 weeks to re-bud after dropping all its leaves.
      When you water the bonsai have you made sure the old soil is wet? Not just the new soil. You can check to see if it is alive by making some small nicks in the trunk and branches with a sharp knife. If the layer beneath the bark is green then the bonsai is still alive.
      I hope this helps,
      all the best
      Sarah

  9. Hi,

    just a question regarding the health of my chinese elm… I bought it about three weeks ago and it looked really healthy then – it had a really dense covering of dark green leaves.
    Since then though the leaves have started to go yellow and drop off, and it seems to be new growth as well as what was already there. It lives on my windowsill and the window is left constantly open, so there should be very little temperature changes in the room. I water it about once every five days or so, when the soil feels dry to the touch. I feed it maybe about once a week also. I tried moving it from the windowsill in case it was either too draughty or sunny, but there was no change. The leaf covering on the tree is quite thin now and it isn’t looking nice and healthy like it did when I bought it.
    I’m not sure how old the tree is but it is really little, it was the smallest in the shop by far.

    1. Dear Amy,
      Thank you for your enquiry.
      Would you be kind enough to send a photo – are the leaves going crispy?
      We are watering a minimum of very other day at this time of year and sometimes every day (if it is hot).
      I am wondering if the bonsai may have dried out.
      kind regards
      Lloyd

  10. Hi

    Please help, my Chinese elm has lost all of it’s leaves and when I nik the bark, I do not see green, does this mean my tree is dead?

    Thanks
    Ismail

    1. If the cambium layer beneath the bark is not green then unfortunately the bonsai has died. Could it have dried out?
      kind regards
      Lloyd

  11. Thanks Lloyd. I had it re potted. When I sent it for reporting it had leaves, it was returned to me after 3 weeks completely bare. The professionals that reported it said that it will grow. But I am doubtful. There is no green at all beneath the bark, it is white. 🙁 🙁

    1. Hi Ismail,
      If there is no green layer beneath the bark, then the bonsai has died and it will not grow back. Please check in several places. If you could send me a photo to [email protected] that would be great. many thanks
      Lloyd

  12. Thanks so much Lloyd, I will send you a photo when I get home from work. I appreciate your assistance.

  13. Hi Lloyd

    I have sent you some. Poctures. Thanks for assisting

    1. Dear Ismail,
      I am sorry but your bonsai has definitely not survived. I am sorry that I cannot be of more help at this late stage.
      kind regards
      Lloyd

  14. Thanks for taking the time to check. I never thought it would hurt this much to actually hear u say that my bonsai did not survive.

    1. We do not like to upset people, we are just here to try and help – I think you should speak with the people who re-potted it to find out what they think happened, to prevent it happening again.

  15. Dear Bonsai Direct,

    Please could I get some advice about aiding the recovery of my Chinese Elm? I can send photos if required.

    I have had the tree for nearly 2 years and it has been in good health for the majority of the time. I originally rescued the tree from the neglect of the local garden center and brought it back to health.

    About 5 months ago, I had to work abroad so I left the tree with a friend for about 10 days. Unfortunately, it didn’t receive enough water or light. After a fair amount of leaf drop, the tree starting regaining vigour. But about 3 months ago I had to work away again for 4/5 days. So I used a “water wick system” using a tea towel in the kitchen sink to water the tree and one of those bonsai drip fertilizers. I am pretty sure that the entire contents of the drip fertilizer leaked out in one day rather than lasting a month like it states on the product. So my initial thinking was that problem could be over watering and potentially root burn. For instance, I have noticed that there is a slight build up of orange type mould near where the drip fertilizer was inserted into the soil. About 2 months later, the tree had regained some vigour so I pruned it back slightly. Since then, the leaves have gone crispy and started to fall off. I have made a few small nicks on the bark and the cambium is green underneath. So the tree is still alive but I am a bit worried that we are going in autumn and the tree has virtually no leaves for photosynthesis. Also, I am pretty sure that the tree is root bound and needs re-potting as a few roots are protruding out the mesh on the bottom. But that’s one to worry about next year I assume?

    What is the best way to proceed in terms of watering and light levels etc?

    Any advice would be really appreciated.

    Regards,

    Jon

    1. Hi Jon,
      Thanks for your enquiry. You seem really knowledgeable and have done all the right things.
      You are correct, I would not worry about re-potting the bonsai until it recovers – Chinese Elms are pretty tough but at this time of year it will take a few weeks to show new buds.
      You need to make sure that you do not over-water the soil now that there are no leaves on the bonsai – it is not using much water through transpiration.
      Please give the bonsai as much light as possible and only water when the soil is barely damp to the touch.
      Please do not feed until new buds appear.
      If you have a mister – please mist the branches daily. Higher humidity levels aid recovery.
      When you do come to re-pot please use a larger pot – if you are away for periods a larger pot will hold more water and make it easier to care for.
      I hope this helps
      kind regards
      Sarah

  16. Hi Bonsai Direct,
    A Chinese elm bonsai was shipped to me a few days ago but there were many yellow, crisp leaves (which now have all fallen off). I have made a few scratches on the trunk and all have shown green. It is very cold outside right now and I think the leaves may have fallen because the package has been in cold weather for a number of days. Now my bonsai is in direct sunlight and i keep the soil damp. It is inside a warm house. Do you think that my bonsai will be okay?
    Thanks, Lizzie

    1. Dear Lizzie,
      The leaf drop is just normal re-acclimatization.
      Some of the old leaves will drop but it will not affect the new growing tips.
      Chinese Elms are really hardy and will survive outdoors.
      Your bonsai will be absolutely fine and new buds will appear within 4-6 weeks and then it will really start growing.
      Happy New Year,
      Kind regards
      Sarah

  17. Hi Bonsai Direct:
    I saw all the great advice you were giving and I was hoping you could help me. I have had a chinese elm small leaf variety for a little less than a year now. The tree started with a pest problem which a soap solution seemed to work best. Also, the tree never became too used to being indoors despite being in a south-east window. The leaves would turn yellow and fall especially on extremely hot days (i’m in zone 9, Los Angeles). Eventually as winter came the leaves slowly all fell off. I have repotted in anticipation of the spring, but it just doesn’t seem to be growing right. very few new buds will come, and most just quit after sprouting a few leaves with the tips drying out or looking slightly black. Also the very few new leaves appear to have tiny white speckles. The overall look of the tree doesn’t look like a normal winter dormancy, but it is certainly alive, as you can even see green in the banshees without cutting. I’m happy to post pictures if helpful. I really want this tree to survive!

    1. Hi Keith,
      Your bonsai does sound like it is struggling – I am wondering if there is a watering issue.
      A few photos would be great please,
      kind regards
      Sarah

      1. http://s124.photobucket.com/user/keith_esq/library/Chinese%20Elm%20Bonsai%201?sort=4&page=1

        Here are some pictures. I do think leaving it in the original shop soil had much to do with it and despite my efforts to monitor the soil moisture, I think it retained too much water. At one point the tree started taking less water. I have seen no adverse reactions since the repot (besides the overall unpleasant look of the tree), but I am concerned about some new growth’s slow progress and that some cease to grow.

      2. Hi Keith,
        Thanks for the photos.
        I think this bonsai has had a serious pest attack and you have not got rid of it.
        Please spray weekly with an insecticide (make sure it treats Red Spider Mite). I cannot be sure that this is what it has but if it works for Red Spider Mite if should work for everything else! Spray the leaves, underneath the leave, the trunk and branches etc. spray every week for several weeks.
        If you remove the grit from the soil surface you will be able to get the watering right. Only water when the soil is barely damp to the touch.
        Your bonsai is definitely alive. Please give it plenty of light but not direct sunlight if hot.
        I hope this helps,
        kind regards
        Sarah

      3. Thank you so much, Sarah! I will follow your instructions. Warm Regards, Keith

      4. Hi Sarah: If you don’t mind I would like to run one more thought passed you. I started treatment with an insecticidal soap but I’m curious as to whether there may be a fungus issue. My best new growth is now giving up, and the newest leaves turned black and closed up. I noticed the same with some of the other newest buds. What I also have noticed is many of the branch stumps are now black (while others remain a healthy beech wood color). I took new pictures to try to show the new growth giving up and the black branch stumps. I never thought I had any fungus problem, as I didn’t see any signs on the leaves when they fell, but the black concerns me. In any event I will keep with the insecticidal soap. I have added pictures 10-14 for examples. Thanks so much!

        http://s124.photobucket.com/user/keith_esq/library/Chinese%20Elm%20Bonsai%201

      5. Hi Keith,
        Yes it could be fungal or simply a pest attack followed by slight over-watering – it is very hard to tell from the photos,
        A precautionary fungal spray would not hurt.

  18. i purchased a chinese elm bonsai just over a month ago, but was keeping it indoors for the last month. i noticed many leaves turning yellow and dropping–so i tried a combination of watering it more and putting it out in the sunlight more… is there something else i should be doing? if i send pictures, can someone advise me what they think i should do to keep it alive?
    thanks so much!

    1. Dear Shawn,
      Yes please send some photos.
      Yellowing of leave sis not usually associated with watering.
      It may just be going through its re-acclimatisation period.
      Is it all the leaves or just the old leaves?
      kind regards
      Sarah

  19. Hello, I purchased a Chinese Elm about 6 weeks ago and it has been growing very well, lots of new growth, however, this morning i have noticed that some of the leaves had turned dark and dropped. I am only watering when the soil surface feels dry and it is situated in a sunny location for the morning, so I’m not sure what may be wrong with it! Any advice would be great, thanks

    1. Hi Joanne,
      Is it just the old leaves and not the new growing tips which have dropped?
      Have the leaves gone crispy?
      It was obviously very happy because you had lots of new growth so I do not think it positioning,
      if you have time please could you send a photo to [email protected]
      I shall wait of hear from you,
      best wishes
      Sarah

  20. Hi,
    I have a Chinese elm which I have had since April, for the past couple of months it has been quite bare except for some long thin strand-like branches with leaves on. I repotted it as the original pot looked way too small, I mist it daily and mist the top of the soil to give water for humidity, but the branches are mainly bare.
    Please could you advise how I restore the tree to its green splendour?
    Thanks
    Heath

    1. Dear Heath,
      It is likely that it needs a hard prune but it maybe a good idea to send us a photo so we can check.
      Many thanks
      Sarah
      [email protected]

      1. Hi Sarah,
        Thank you for getting back to me, much appreciated, I’ve emailed you 3 pictures as requested.
        Heath

      2. Dear Heath,
        Thanks for the photos.
        Please give the bonsai plenty if daylight but keep it out if direct sun.
        The pot is very large in proportion to the bonsai and the soil does not look particularly free draining.
        I think it is likely that it may be over-watered at times.
        Have any of the leaves gone brown on the tips?
        Please keep the soil just damp (not wet) and give the bonsai good light.
        It will take about 8 weeks before you see an improvement. I hope this helps.
        Kind regards
        Sarah

      3. Many thanks Sarah, for some reason this reply has only just popped up in my web browser. I will try your suggestions

        Heath

  21. Hi

    I bought a Chinese elm in April for my partners 50th birthday, it was growing well and in June I oruned it back as it was quite bushy and growing everywhere. Since then most of the leaves have gone and the branches are twiggy and bare.

    We are getting new leaves but they seem to die off and do not last.

    Can you help its in daylight and watered when dry.

    Thanks

    1. Dear Joanne,
      Please can you send some photos. Sounds like it is trying to grow but we need to work out why it isn’t.
      Kind regards
      Sarah

  22. Hi there, I recently bought a bonsai from my local garden centre. The leaves have been dropping quite rapidly and I’ve nicked the bark to check it hasnt died and it’s green at the top and brown at the bottom. Does this mean it’s dying? The dropped leaves are very crispy

    1. Dear Kristian,
      Crispy leaves normally indicate that the bonsai has either dried out or become very hot – is this possible?
      This would cause the leaf drop.
      The fact that the layer beneath the bark is brown is not a good sign – what sort of bonsai do you have?
      is it indoor or outdoor?
      thanks
      Sarah

  23. I have 4 Chinese Elms, 1 has been living on the bathroom windowsill since I bought it 9 months ago, the other there have been living outdoors. I brought the 3 outdoor elms in about three weeks ago and they have been dropping leaves ever since, usually leaves that are still green, sometimes slightly paler green. I’ve sprayed twice with a bug killer thinking maybe Red Spider Mite but its made no difference. The bathroom one is also dropping leaves. They are all growing new ones but not as many as are falling off! Any thoughts, is it just the time of year? Best Regards, PeteB

    1. Dear Pete,
      Whenever you bring bonsai in from outside, especially Chinese Elms, they go through a period of massive leaf drop.
      This should not affect the new growing tips, just the older leaves further down the branches.
      Basically it will be much warmer inside – the bonsai want to grow and will think it is spring.
      The leaf drop should not affect the growing tips and new shoots should follow fairly quickly.
      Please keep the tips of the new shoots pruned to encourage back budding,
      many thanks
      Sarah

  24. Thanks Sarah, I guessed that would be the case with the three that had been outside but the bathroom one hasn’t been outside since I’ve had it and that exhibits the same leaf dropping as the others. Is if the reduction in daylight hours perhaps? Or am I looking for something more sinister? They are all Bonsai in form by the way. Best Regards, PeteB

    1. Yes, this will be caused by the shorter day length. It is not uncommon at this time of year. Please ensure you do not over water the bonsai – they will have less foliage and only water when barely damp. Keep an eye out for pests – red spider mite can be identifies usually by old leaves hanging from the branches by thin webs. Sometimes it is worth spraying with an insecticide as a preventative measure. Please continue to feed with a bonsai feed.

  25. Hello and help

    I bought a chinese elm from a bonsai nursery a few months ago. Initially the tree was fine, i was watering it whenever the soil felt dry (immersion in water till the bubbles stopped). Then the dreaded central heating came on and even though i regularly watered it the leaves yet yellow and started to fall off.

    I moved the tree away from the radiator and the leaves turned to a very light grey colour, so i moved it again to the dining room, with no radiator and a big glass door and the leaves all went yellow and crispy and fell off. The tree is looking very miserable and bold now.

    Please help, what do i need to do to help it back to life?

    Rob

    1. Dear Rob,
      I think that your bonsai was probably just going through a seasonal leaf drop initially – were all the leaves dropping or just the older ones (not the growing tips)?
      If the leaves are going crispy it sounds like you might have let it get too dry (even on one occasion).
      Please could you send a photo.
      It needs to go somewhere on a windowsill at this time of year to get maximum light.
      Please could you send a photo to [email protected] and I shall take a look,
      kind regards
      Sarah
      Bonsai Direct

  26. I have bonsai of china the leaves crispy and green all fall off and branches are dry will the leaves come back.

    1. It sounds as though your bonsai has got hot or dried out – is this possible?
      It depends on how dry it got as to whether it will come back.
      It will take 5-6 weeks to see new buds. Just keep the soil damp and not too wet and give the bonsai plenty of light.
      I hope this helps
      kind regards
      Sarah

  27. I’m hoping you can help me. My husband bought me a Chinese Elm bonsai in January. It arrived looking very healthy, and is now developing lots of new growth, but it’s also dropping a lot of leaves which, as far as I can tell, seem to be a mix of old and new leaves. Some are slightly crispy, others have yellowed or turned brown. I know they’re supposed to lose leaves as they acclimatize to a new environment, but it’s been going on for longer & more leaves than I expected. I’ve been checking the soil on a daily basis and watering probably every other day, with a liquid feed once a week. Where am I going wrong?

    1. Dear Sarah,
      Your are unlikely to be doing anything wrong; it is probably re-acclimatising.
      This does not usually affect the new foliage so please could you send a photo to [email protected] so I can check this for you.
      It could be to do with watering or an environmental issue so it is best to check,
      kind regards
      Sarah

  28. Hi I am very worried about my bonsai it’s a Chinese elm I’ve had it a few years. A few weeks ago i had the Window open my bonsai is on the Window sill. And I fell asleep for probably 6 hrs. When I woke up it was freezing in my apt so I closed the Window and my poor bonsai was so cold. It was around -10 out. So a few days ago I noticed a lot of the leaves were turning yellowish and were crispy and falling off. I put it under my grow light and I’m babying it trying to bring it back. I’ve always taking good care of it I actually have 2 other bonsai’s that are clones from this one and it has a twist in the stalk it took a lot of work to get it were it is. The tree is 16 years old. So do you think it’s still alive man I hope so. I’ll try and attach a pic so you can see. It still has quite a few leaves on it. I know that in there native habitat temps barely reach 0 in the winter so I hope my poor little tree is still with u

    1. Hi David,
      Your bonsai is absolutely fine – Chinese Elms are pretty hardy; it has just dropped its leaves due to the cold and should start to rebud in approx 6 weeks.
      Now you can see the branch structure so clearly this would be a fantastic time to sort out the pruning! A hard prune at this time of year would encourage back budding and whole new flush of shoots – it would also give your bonsai a far better artistic appeal.
      Please take a look at this video on pruning your Chinese Elm Bonsai tree: http://www.bonsaidirect.co.uk/p/pruning-bonsai
      I would then recommend that you start feeding the bonsai too – we feed weekly!
      Please do not be inclined to over-water – it has less leaves now so will not require as much water. Only water when the soil surface is barely damp to the touch.
      Initially when you prune the bonsai will look fairly bare – you will have to prune off all the new foliage but you will be rewarded!
      I hope this helps
      Kind regards
      Sarah – Bonsai Direct

  29. Hi, I was wondering if someone could help me?
    I was given a bonsai by a friend- they don’t know what species it is and neither do I!
    Also all the leaves have started to fall off (this was happening before they gave it to me- I think it dried out with them) I have since submerged in water and mist it etc. there does seem to be lots of new shoots but some f those are starting to go crispy and fall off! The soil is very moist to touch! I’ve had tree about 2 weeks now. I will try send some pics !
    Any help is much appreciated!

    1. Hi Lisa,
      Crispy leaves are usually a sign that the bonsai has dried out or become too hot. The fact that it has new shoots is a great sign.
      It is not uncommon for a bonsai to lose the old leaves (not the new growing tips) in the first 2-3 weeks whilst the bonsai re-acclimatises to its new location; this is usually followed by a growth period.
      How often to you water the bonsai?
      If you would like us to identify the bonsai please send a photo to [email protected]
      I hope this helps
      kind regards
      Sarah
      Bonsai Direct

      1. I have emailed pic to your email address! I stopped watering as soil was very wet and have been misting for 4 days. There is still water in tray that tree hasn’t soaked up. Also I have just sprayed with a bug repellant as some of dead leaves seem to hang off invisible webs!
        Thank you for your help so far
        Lisa

  30. Hi, I am quite concerned about my bonsai tree at the moment, a couple of months ago the leaves started to drop and the bonsai did not recover. Any existing branches which had leaves on in the past have not regained any leaves and my bonsai has no leaves on it at the moment. New buds have emerged on different parts of the tree however die off soon after with no sign of recovery. I am deeply concerned about this as I tend to water the tree every two to three days and only when the soil is not damp. I am just wondering why these new buds keep dying and what I can do to prevent this. I recently had some whitish looking bugs in the soil which I sprayed with an insecticide so was just wondering could these bugs be causing the issue. the growth of the new buds is extremely slow and existing branches that had leaves don’t appear to grow any more leaves. I have checked if the bonsai is alive by peeling a tiny piece of the bark and it appears green underneath. I would be extremely grateful if you could help me as I am really worried about the state of my bonsai tree, furthermore it is a Chinese elm.
    many thanks
    Billy

    1. Hi Billy,
      Would it be possible for you to send us a photo please? When the new shoots die off do they go crispy, brown or change colour?
      many thanks
      Sarah
      [email protected]

      1. I have emailed the pictures over now, they turn a little greeny/brown and go crispy.
        Many thanks
        Billy

  31. I dint water my bonsai plant for 7 days because we were not in house.leaves have fallen.tree has become dried.its been 15 days there no sign of growth.please help me

    1. I do not think you would see any improvement for at least 4-6 weeks. I hope it hasn’t dried out too much so that the roots and trunk have died.
      Please do not be inclined to over-water – just keep the soil damp.
      i hope this helps
      kind regards
      Sarah

  32. Hey!i just got my tree about two days ago and I’m not really that knowledgeable on this subject. When I got it the moss was green and now I wake up this morning and the majority of it is brown also I’m not sure how regularly to water it.

    1. Hi Naomi,
      I am not sure what variety of bonsai you have so it is a little difficult to advise you.
      You need to check for water daily and only water when the soil is barely damp (and the soak the whole root ball).
      The moss grows better in conditions of higher humidity eg. outside or in a bathroom, but I suspect this is a watering issue if you have only had the bonsai for 2 days,
      We do have videos on watering:
      I hope this bonsai care section helps
      http://www.bonsaidirect.co.uk/p/bonsai-care-information
      kind regards
      Sarah

  33. And also the new shoots have changed colour there define toy darker almost purple

  34. Hello I have an indoor elm tree, I got it in January and it was doing really well but then the leaves turn brown and fell off, I was overwatering so re potted it because was told I needed to, however no new leaves have grown in about three four weeks but it’s still bright green under the bark. Was wondering if anyone could help me? 🙂

    1. Hi Cameron,
      I’m not sure you were given the best advice in repotting when the roots were weak.
      Please keep the soil just damp and give it plenty of daylight (but out of direct sun).
      I think you just need to be patient and allow at least another 4 weeks.
      It is great if the cambium layer is green because you know it is alive.
      The only other thing you could try is to mist the branches daily; this is in addition to checking that the soil is damp,
      I hope this helps
      kind regards
      Sarah
      Bonsai Direct

      1. Thank you so much for the help!
        Many thanks

  35. I have 2 Chinese elms healthy and growing nicely, l have put them outside since spring and have been doing well. Both trees New growth have orange rims on the leaves a tiny few had orange in centre but normal green edges. We seem to be having a problem in our garden with most plants this summer with black spot or rust. Are my trees now getting poorly? My ginseng ficus has weird leaves too. Have removed affected leaves for now. Please help.

    1. Hi Rachel,
      the new leaves on a Chinese Elm, especially one grown outside, often have a rusty red foliage tinge – it really is very pretty.
      Rust is more like a powdery residue. If you are worried please spray them with a fungicide.
      I hope this helps

      1. Thanks for the reply really relieved. I am thinking of spraying as a precaution . I have Bayer Garden fungus fighter Plus is this OK to use on my tree’s?
        Thanks

      2. I have not used this personally but I would think it should be ideal.

  36. I bought my husband an indoor Chinese Elm for his birthday last December. At first all was well. Than in June, suddenly all the leaves dropped off. They didn’t change colour just dropped, over a period of a few days; first the ones on top and then the ones shooting out the side on longer side branches. He feeds and waters it and hasn’t done anything differently of late. Have cut the bark and it is still alive!!!
    Any ideas.
    Thank you
    Roz

    1. Hi Rosalind,
      When the leaves dropped off did they go dry and papery/crispy?
      Kind regards
      Bonsai Direct

      1. Hello, no the leaves didn’t go dry or papery, they were the usual green colour and looked normal but just dropped off!!

        best wishes
        Rosalind

      2. I am assuming there are no leaves on it now; I had really hoped to work out the cause of this. This is not normal especially over such a short period of time. This is a strange question but do you use air freshener or have you sprayed air freshener near the bonsai?

  37. This could be the answer!!! We have somebody who comes into clean and she sprays air freshener everywhere.
    Air freshener will now be banned.
    This is an amazing suggestion. Would never have thought of it.
    Will let you know if this works!!!
    best wishes and thank you.
    Rosalind

    1. Hi Rosalind,
      At least you know the cause now; the worst sort are the Dettox air fresheners. Please keep the soil just damp, not too wet because there are no leaves, and give it 6 weeks, hopefully you will see new buds opening,
      Best wishes
      Sarah

  38. Hi Sarah. My elm is dropping brown leaves, and the base of the trunk flaky. I scratched the bark, which shows green higher up but red brown lower down. From reading this blog, I think it dried out and not a good sign. Can I recover it somehow? Thandi, Jo

    1. Hi Jo,
      If the cambium layer is brown across the entire base of the trunk then the bonsai has really drastically dried out and it is very unlikely to recover. However, you can get the situation where one side has dried out but the other side is still alive so please check carefully,
      I Hope this helps
      best wishes
      Sarah

  39. Hi I recieved a bonsai tree yesterday as an early birthday present and I think its a chinese elm and love it but im just abit worried about how to take care of it im just wondering if you could help me out and let me know how to look after it and how I will know when to water my bonsai, what the best way to water my bonsai, when to prune it ect thank you,
    Megan.

    1. Hi Megan,
      I think the information on this link should help you:
      http://www.bonsaidirect.co.uk/p/indoor-bonsai-tree-care

      Also lots of free help and advice about caring for your bonsai and watering, pruning, feeding etc in this section:
      http://www.bonsaidirect.co.uk/p/bonsai-care-information

      I hope this helps
      kind regards
      Sarah

      1. Thank you I will have a look through these links
        Megan.

  40. I went through all these questions and answers on the Chinese elm…I’m not sure if I didn’t see the answer to my question. But, I live in Texas and I’ve decided to put “Elija the Elm” (lol, his name) in the garage to go dormant this winter, and I want to be sure to do this right. How long, when, how should I do this? I just want him to be happy…thank you so much in advance for any advice 🙂

    1. Dear Camile,
      I think it would not go dormant in the garage and this could cause problems.
      It would be fine in a cool position (with natural light). Please still check the soil and ensure it is damp.
      We live in the UK so I am uncertain as to how severe your winters are; please do not allow to go below -5oC.
      I hope this helps
      kind regards
      Sarah

  41. Hi sarah, my chinese elm looks poorly just now..i got it as a present in may and its been lovely and green until a month ago with the weather getting cold up here…i dont know if the heat in the house is affecting it and condensation..most of the leafs have fallen and white mauld is covering the top soil going up the trunk..some brown crispy leafs…no black spot..
    Can i save it..its barely got any leafs on it too…i tent to water every seven days when not too dampish. Is putting it outside going to help to get air to it as its mauldy just now.
    Hope u can save my little tree.

    1. Dear Jenson,
      It sounds as though you may have an irregular watering issue.
      Some of the symtoms you describe are assosicated with under watering , such as the brownish dry leaves and the white mould may come from over watering.
      It may be that you need to check it more often and water sligtly more frequently but when you do water, use less water.
      Please could you send a photo to [email protected] so we can check the symptoms.
      Thanks
      Sarah – Bonsai Direct

  42. HI, I have had bonsai fro 2 years. i changed my bonsai location about 6 weeks ago, it is started to lose leaves 4 weeks ago, what should i do. please help me
    thanks

    1. Dear Nasim,
      I suspect this is just seasonal leaf drop which should only affect the old leaves and not the new growing tips.
      If you could send a photo to [email protected] I shall take a look.
      Obviously I do not know the variety so it is not easy to give you any advice.
      Please keep the soil just damp (not too wet). If the bonsai has dropped some leaves it will not require so much water and it is also considerably cooler at the moment,
      I hope this helps
      kind regards
      Sarah

  43. Hi,

    Need some help! We got a Chinese Elm Indoor tree for Christmas and it has started to go dry and fall off. They havent changed colour, just crispy and falling. The room temperature is cool and it should be bright enough.

    What do you think might be the problem? I can send a photo if this will help…

    Thanks!! Worried about it!

    1. Dear Euan,
      If the leaves are crispy could it have dried out, even for a short time?
      kind regards
      Sarah
      Bonsai Direct

  44. Hiya,

    I have a 7 year old Chinese Elm and over the last week the leaves have just been drying out and dropping off. There are still a few green leaves but it’s looking very bare. I pruned back the tree as it was getting quite big but it’s only grown 2 new shoots since. It dried out over Christmas because I left it on my desk at the office where it was thriving before, even though I gave it enough water to last the whole week I was off. What should I do? I’d love to see some more leaves grow on it soon! It’s still alive as the cambium layer is green. Please help! Should I start feeding it?

    Thanks!
    Prema

    1. Dear Prema,
      Please keep the soil damp and not too wet.
      If it has dried out it will drop all the leaves.
      basically you need to give it 4-6 weeks before you know how much of the bonsai will recover.
      If you have a mister please most the branches daily in addition to keeping the soil damp.
      I’m afraid there is nothing else you can do but give it time.
      Please do not feed it until it has a lot of new leaves,
      I hope this helps
      kind regards
      Sarah – Bonsai Direct

  45. Hi there

    I acquired a bonsai tree as a christmas present December 2015 and most of the leaves on the tree have recently gone very brown/grey and crispy. There is new growth sprouting from the trunk with green leaves and this growth has been happening since the tree started to brown. The main trunk is green behind the bark, but higher up on the trunk it is more brown behind the bark if i put a small nick in it.
    I think that the tree species is either a Japanese Elm or Japanese Holly but stupidly i cannot find the paper that stated this. Looking online, is this tree an indoor or outdoor tree? I have been keeping it indoor but wonder whether this is the source of the problems?

    I hope that you can help and that the tree is still saveable.
    Thanks
    Tom

    1. Hi Tom,
      If the leaves have gone brown and crispy it indicates that your bonsai has dried out at some point, even for a short period of time, does this sound likely?
      Please could you send us a photo so we can identify the bonsai and try to advise you further.
      Many thanks
      Lloyd
      [email protected]

  46. Hello,
    My parents have left me their bonsai elm to look after while they are away and they return in two weeks.
    I have been keeping it in our kitchen underneath the window (the kitchen is south facing so it gets quite warm). I have been watering it every other day but the leaves have begun to go limp and shrivelled. Do you have any advice? I am worried I may be over wateringIit but the kitchen gets so warm.
    Kind regards,
    Amanda

    1. Hi Amanda,
      Please could you e-mail me a photo to [email protected] so I can check what variety of bonsai you have and see the symptoms?
      many thanks
      Sarah

  47. Hi there,

    Really hoping you can help! Bought my husband a Chinese elm for Christmas 2015 and it was fine for a few weeks before the leaves fell off. Months later still no new green

    1. Hi Kim,
      Did the leaves go crispy or change colour when they fell off?
      kind regards
      Sarah

  48. Hello,
    I have an indoor Chinese elm since December 2016 that is about 8yo. I struggled to find the right watering balance the first few month and had to immerse my tree in emergency about 8weeks ago. It recovered pretty well and seems to be ok now, but I’ve recently noticed very small insects in the soil. They only come out when the soil is disturbed (when watering for exemple), are very very small and very fast. There are quite a lot of them and I doubt they are doing anything good to my tree since I get random yellow leaves.
    Any idea what they can be and how to get rid of them if necessary?
    Thank you!

    1. Hi Rebecca,
      There are root drenches on the market which treat for insects.
      I am wondering it these insects are beneficial.
      They sound like nematodes. Are they doing any harm? It is unlikely that they cause random yellow leaves (these are probably the old leaves).
      kind regards
      Sarah

  49. Hi, I’m looking after a Bonsai for a friend so I don’t have much experience.
    When she gave it to me it was almost leafless but now it has some leaves – all of which are brown and crispy, apart from one or two very small greenish-brown ones.
    There is off white mildew type substance at the bottom of the trunk. I’ve scratched it and it is green underneath so still alive!
    I just can’t figure out what I’m doing wrong, watering too much? Not enough? Please help!! (Also it was in the windowsill for a while but I have moved it a little further away incase it was getting too much light as we were having really nice weather)
    King regards,
    Amelia

    1. Hi Amelia,
      It sounds as though it has dried out if the leaves have gone dry and crispy.
      Please don’t worry about the white mildew; that will brush off with an old toothbrush. It can be cuased by damp soil but there is nothing wrong with that.
      If you are concerned please e-mail us a photo to [email protected] so we can check the symptoms,
      kind regards
      Sarah

  50. Hello I have had my bonsai since February and I want to check its doing ok. Its on my desk at work so it suffers at weekends when I am not here. However I fertilize it once a week and give it water every morning. Many leaves seem to fall off but it also has so many new Green branches of leaves growing. They seem to grow over night. However I do get concerned when so many seem to fall off. And after the weekend it wilts! Does it sound ok? Its a chinese elm. Thanks
    Amy

    1. Hi Amy,
      I think the best advice I can give you is to stand your bonsai in water over the weekend whilst it is so hot.
      I think this is better than letting it get so dry.
      It is not ideal but preferable to it wilting, and as it gets hotter it could suffer.
      Is it the old leaves (or the new growing tips) which drop off?
      I suspect it is the old leaves.
      It may need pruning to encourage new leaves to ‘back bud’.
      I hope this helps
      kind regards
      Sarah

  51. Hi,
    I’ve had my bonsai (a little indoor Chinese elm) since Christmas. It was doing really well with loads of new leaves only 2 weeks ago but now over the weekend all of a sudden all of the leaves have shrivelled and gone brown! I’ve nicked the trunk and it is green underneath so I think it’s still alive but I don’t know how to get my leaves back! I’ve stopped giving it feed and moved it a bit further from the window as I was worried it had maybe got too much sun when it was really bright the last couple of weeks. I generally water about once a week when the soil is almost dry and give it a good soak through until water runs right through to the drip tray. Is there any more I can do? I’m really quite fond of this bonsai and it was a present from my boyfriend. Please help!

    Elizabeth

    1. Dear Elizabeth,
      It has been fairly hot lately and during the summer watering a bonsai once a week will not be sufficient.
      If the leaves went dry and crispy then the bonsai has become too dry. For now please check daily for water and as soon as the soil is barely damp water it well.
      If the leaves have dropped off then it will require less water than when in full leaf.
      If the cambium layer is green, this is a great sign. It will take 4-6 weeks to see new buds forming.
      I hope this helps
      kind regards
      Sarah
      Bonsai Direct

      1. Thank you! I’ll keep checking the water and hopefully it will revive itself!

        Thanks
        Elizabeth

      2. Hi Sarah,

        I was just wondering should I prune the shrivelled leaf branches off or just keep checking on the soil and watering it until it’s recovered before pruning off any old branches?

        Thanks
        Elizabeth

      3. Hi Elizabeth,
        I think I would be inclined to leave the branches until such a time that I can see which parts will not recover and then prune them off.
        All the best
        Sarah

  52. Hi, I recently bought a Chinese Elm Bonsai, although new leaves are growing the old leaves are falling and turning brown and crispy. Also the new sprouts do not look healthy. I am watering when the soil is not damp and it is getting enough sun light. I have noticed small flies/ bugs in the soil. Is this the reason it is now sparse?

    Thanks

    1. Dear Jimmy,
      If the leaves have gone brown and crispy then the bonsai is getting too dry.
      You need to water a bonsai when the soil is damp (ie not wet).It must not be allowed to dry out.
      The little bugs on the soil will be scarid flies, they cause no harm.
      I hope this helps
      kind regards Sarah

  53. Hello,
    I received a Chinese Elm from bonsai direct at Christmas and it’s been pretty healthy but recent I’m getting alot of discoloured leaves and the soil seems to be growing a form of mould/moss? I’m not too sure on what it is I’ve read it’s from a result of over watering but I’m almost certain I’m not over watering. And I’m giving it the sb plant invigorater weekly. Could you give me any advice? I’ve attached pictures in an email I just sent.

    Regards,
    Kam

    1. Hi Kam,
      Thanks for the images. I have not seen this before. Your bonsai is suffering from Chlorosis.
      Do you feed it with bonsai feed? This is caused by a lack of certain nutrients such as iron.
      I hope this helps
      kind regards
      Sarah

      1. Hi,
        thanks for the quick reply I really appreciate it. I went a period without feeding it as the growth was just too quick for me to control, but I have begun to restart feeding it for two weeks now and have seen some minor improvements already. Is the Moss/mould nothing to worry about?

        Kind regards
        Kam

      2. Moss is always lovely; it only appears during the summer when the humidity is greater. When the central heating is on it will die off. You can remove it is you wish with an old toothbrush; this will also remove slight traces of mould.

  54. Hi I have several chinese Elm bonsai and it has been recommended that I put them in the darkness for the winter to allow the tree to rest and the leaves to fall. The trees are all kept outside and look fine. Some have winter colour coming but not all. They would be kept in a cold greenhouse over the winter if not put into a dark garrage. I have been told the trees will be a lot better if I do this. I ‘m unsure as I can find no other advice either on the internet or in books recommending this treatment. Please advise
    Thanks Cathy

    1. Dear Cathy,
      I think you have been incorrectly advised.
      An unheated greenhouse would be perfect, but they do need light.
      The cold temperature will allow them to rest. Chinese Elm bonsai can be unpredictable during winter when grown outdoors; they may keep all their leaves or lose them all (or somewhere in between).
      This is perfectly ok, they are likely to do different things if you have several.
      Please put them in the greenhouse when the temperature starts dropping (ie when we start getting frosts).
      I hope this helps
      kind regards
      Sarah

  55. Hi,

    I’ve been growing a Chinese elm from seed (only 1 made it through the 1st year) and it grew nicely to about 10cm in the first year. Year 2 it didn’t start growing new leaves until August but grew to about 25cm. It’s kept most of it’s leaves over the winter and the very top looks like it will sprout new leaves at any moment since May. It’s now mid September and it hasn’t sprouted any new leaves but hasn’t dropped any of the previous years leaves either. The leaves still have a fair amount of green colour in them. The sapling is in it’s own small pot and hasn’t been re-potted. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks Hank.

    1. Hi Hank,
      Have you fed the Chinese Elm sapling at all? Are you growing it indoors or outdoors.
      It is very strange not to have any new foliage at all through the entire summer. I would expect a plant of that age to grow rapidly.
      Kind regards
      Sarah

      1. Hi Sarah
        Thanks for the quick reply. I’ve not fed it, is it too late to do so now? I keep it indoors on the kitchen window sill.

        Hank

  56. Hi, I just recently got a Chinese elm bonsai and I have been taking care of it well. However, I left it by a window on a cold day and my room mate opened the window. When I returned the leaves on a few of the branches were brown and wilted. The leaves aren’t crisp but almost rubbery in texture. What should I do?

    1. Dear Brandon,
      The cold will not affect the Chinese elm long term – it is an extremely tough bonsai.
      It may lose some of the affected leaves. This is fine.
      Just keep the soil damp and it should rebud in 5-6 weeks.
      I hope this helps
      Kind regards
      Sarah

  57. I got a bonsai tree for my birthday on 12/30

    I took it to my office with all my other plants and it was doing wonderful the first month.

    a few weeks ago leaves started dropping and I noticed aphids in the soil.

    I treated it 3 times with with organic soap and the bugs disappeared but the leaves are still dropping.

    my tree went from being completely full with hundreds of new shoots with growth to being almost completely bear and the new shoots leaves are turning brown and curling at the end.

    I water the plant almost every other day and now have started watering it in the sink and even soaking in baths till all the air escapes

    I have a led light in my office and the temp is around 70-75 degrees maybe 65 on the weekends.

    the bonsai gets afternoon sun for a few hours and indirect sun in the mornings.

    can someone please help!! I love plants have them all over my house and office but this is my first bonsai and im failing !!

  58. Dear Melissa,
    Please could you let us know what variety of bonsai you have? I also wondered what time of year it is with you?
    many thanks
    Sarah – Bonsai Direct

  59. Hi

    I have a Chinese Elm, I can’t position it anywhere else for it to get more light. It’s growing little buds however at the same time a lot of the foliage from deeper within the centre of the tree has fallen and all new growth is on the outside of the tree so I’m being left with really long dangly growth on the outside with leaves spread far apart and just empty branches on the inside and it doesn’t look very pleasing aesthetically, could you please help?

    Regards Kam

  60. Hi,

    I have a Chinese Elm Bonsai tree since February this year. I have been watering and pruning it regularly. Recently it has dropped its leaves and a few of them that are left are crispy and dry. The bark and branches look dry. Although, I have been watering it regularly. The soil is in a moss ball so I dip the moss ball in water for 10 minutes to water the bonsai. It is showing no life of life and has no green stems or new sprouts. Could you please help me revive the bosai?

    Thank you,
    Priya

    1. Dear Priya,
      If the bonsai has got dry and crispy leaves it sounds like it has not had enough water; during summer months it will need more frequent watering.
      How often do you water it?
      The other thing you could do is either put it in the garden in semi-shade (obviously keep checking for water) or mist the branches and twig to keep the humidity up (this is in addition to normal watering).
      I hope this helps
      kind regards
      Sarah

  61. Hi.

    Hopefully someone on here can help me.

    I have a chinese elm bonsai which I mostly keep outdoors. During winter this year I kept the bonsai inside as temperatures got quite low. It lost all its leaves. As spring arrived I repotted the bonsai just before the new buds opened.

    The new buds started opening and I have been leaving the tree to grow wild for the past month or so feeding the tree with bonsai food twice a month.

    About a week ago I noticed that its starting to loose a lot of leaves again. Only this time they are not rurning black or yellow or crispy. They just turn a darker green/brown colour but are not crispy and then fall off with touch.

    The tree still has a lot of leaves. But dropping about 10 leaves a day.

    I water the tree every 3-4 days when the soil isnt soaked anymore.

    Any advice would be appreciated!

    Thanks on advance.

    Theo

  62. Dear Theo,
    I expect this is a seasonal effect; especially if it only affects the old leaves and not the new growing tips.
    it is very common for a Chinese elm to lose the old leaves during autumn and 4-5 weeks later lots of new buds become visible.
    Please keep the soil just damp and not wet – it will require slightly less water when some leaves drop,
    I hope this helps
    Kind regards
    Sarah

  63. I recently purchased a Chinese elm bonsai tree, about 2-3 days ago now and I do not have much experience with bonsai as this is my first. I have done a lot of research before buying and after and still am doing it… but I came home today and noticed the leaves falling off it is an indoor bonsai and it is winter but I just got this bonsai and don’t want it to die on me yet, anyway the leaves are green still…
    any help is appreciated,
    thanks.

    1. Hi Madison,
      It is very normal for a Chinese Elm bonsai to drop the old leaves (not the new growing tips) during the first 2-3 weeks. This will stabilise and new buds will open 5-6 weeks later. I hope this helps.
      Kind regards
      Sarah

  64. Hi,

    I have a Chinese Elm and it seems the leaves are drying out and a few have turned yellow but not many.
    I’ve checked to see if its dead and it’s still green under the bark (made a small nick as suggested)

    Should i feed it or not I’m unsure what to do next?

    Thanks 🙂

    1. Dear Nicole,
      Please could you email me a photo and I shall check the symptoms,
      Many thanks
      Sarah

  65. Hello I have a Chinese elm bonsai tree. I’ve had it for nearly a year now and it seems to be a pretty strong tree even though I’m not sure on the age of it as it was a present from a friend bought off of amazon. The tree started to grow loads of new shoots in early spring and was looking healthy. The new leaves then started to go a pale colour and looked very limp before all dropping off. Recently more shoots began to bloom again in the last couple of weeks and it was looking really healthy again but then the same thing happened and all of them have started to drop off and now I’m a bit stuck for what to do.
    It seems as if not enough nutrients is getting to the tree but I water it regularly and it’s in a great spot in the kitchen for regular temperature and not too much direct sunlight.
    Is it too late to repot the tree as maybe this is what the problem is?
    I have lifted the tree out of its current pot and the roots do look slightly curved under themselves.
    Please help.

    1. Hi Niamh,
      In the year that you have had the bonsai have you ever fed it with bonsai feed?
      https://www.bonsaidirect.co.uk/liquid-bonsai-fertiliser-t92.html

      It sounds like a bonsai mist may help too:
      https://www.bonsaidirect.co.uk/bonsai-mist-plant-invigorator-2-sizes.html

      kind regards
      Sarah – Bonsai Direct

  66. Hi, I’m looking for some advice. I bought a Chinese bonsai from a well known and reputable company which is 9 years old. I have had it for around a year, however this years summer has been very hot and I fear my tree may have had too much light as the leaves have turned yellow/brown and have gotten crispy and started to fall off. I water the plant regularly and the soil is moist so I think the leaves have just dried out. I’ve moved the tree to the shaded area which still gets moderate sunlight to try and let the tree recover and the tree is green underneath the bark when I’ve made small cuts so it’s still alive, but I’m not sure what else I should/ can do to help it survive?

    1. Dear David,
      I hope this blog which we have written will help your Chinese Elm bonsai recover more quickly:
      https://www.bonsaidirect.co.uk/blog/bonsai-care-advice/trouble-shooting/the-leaves-on-my-bonsai-have-gone-dry-and-crispy-what-should-i-do/
      Kind regards
      Sarah

  67. I’ve had this elm for maybe 2 years now and it goes through cycles of having shoots and dropping yellow leaves. But I’ve noticed that since thw initial dropping of leaves after getting it that my chinese elm does not at all have the full foliage it is supposed to.
    Did I stunt the growth somehow? Is there a way to fix it? It seems like it’s healthy besides the occasional leaf turning brown or yellow.
    I keep it at a north facing window sill with a humidity tray and a light when needed. I water when it’s dried a little at the top; so no set schedule. Please help.

    Thank you,
    Rebecca

    1. Hi Rebecca.
      Have you repotted or root pruned the bonsai at all in the last 2 years. I am wondering it is pot bound.
      Are the roots absolutely solid in the pot?
      kind regards Sarah

  68. Hi Guys,

    I’m not sure if I am late to the party or whether this is now an inactive blog.
    I recently purchased a very old chinese elm. It came from a reliable bonsai supplier who had kept it in a heated greenhouse throughout the years. I am currently keeping it by a sunny window seal (in London, England) and the plant has, to my understanding, kept its leaves for many years due to the warm temperatures it has lived in.
    I have searched far and wide for information on how/what/when to keep chinese elm indoords in English weather. I was advised by the seller to buy phosmag to use after May time but surely there are other foods I can give to the plant at this time of year on the build up to Spring? Believe it or not there is nothing that I can find online that gives information on my above question…. I am hoping you can advise what to feed it, and when? At first I was concerned that the leaves where turning yellow and dropping but as there is lots of new growth it has been suggested to me that it is just climatising to its new environment. Your advice on what to feed an indoor chinese elm throughout the year in England would be greatly appreciated.

    Kind regards,

    Joe.

  69. Hi Joe,
    I think the leaf drop will be seasonal if it is only affecting the old leaves and not the new growing tips.
    We feed all our indoor chinese Elm bonsai with a liquid bonsai fertiliser once a week. Here is the link https://www.bonsaidirect.co.uk/liquid-bonsai-fertiliser-t92.html
    I hope this helps
    kind regards
    Sarah – Bosnai Direct

  70. Hi. I have a beautiful Chinese Elm bonsai which was a gift from my boyfriend. I water it whenever the soil feels dry (every 1-2 days). When it’s on the window ledge my cat eats the leaves, so I keep it inside the room, high up, but put it in the window ledge to get some extra sun when I am at home. Lately, although it has plenty of new buds, the leaves have been turning a paler, dull shade of green and falling off, leaving whole branches bare. Please can you advise me? Many thanks! Natalia

  71. Hello there. My boyfriend gave me a lovely little Chinese elm bonsai but despite maybes efforts it seems to be dying. The leaves are turning dull pale green and dropping off. I water it every second day when the soil feels dry and feed it once a week. Can you help??

    1. Dear Natalia,
      Please could you send a photo.
      It sounds as though it may not be getting sufficient light.
      is this possible?
      kind regards
      Bonsai Direct

  72. I bought a chinese elm bonsai from local nursery. The soil of the bonsai was really tight with no proper drainage. So i did repotting with use of cocopeat and lava rock and crushed cooked clay. But the % of cocopeat was more die to which the soil kept damp for almost 5-6 days of watering and the leaf started browning from tip which was a sign of excess water in soil. So after 5 days of repotting i remove the soil and change the composition of soil making proper water draining. What are the chances of my tree giving up due to double repotting within a week??? Anything i can do to help the tree adapt… Its my first bonsai experience. I am from asia and its mid spring here.

    1. Dear Anil,
      I believe with the right care repotting twice in such a short period of time will have no detrimental affect at all,
      kind regards
      Sarah

  73. Hi there.

    I recently bought a Chinese Elm and it is shedding leaves a lot. Many of the leaves have gone crispy and it does not look like it is stopping. It has been kept indoors in a very bright room that gets a lot of light (but possibly gets too warm – c.25 degrees and over during the day).

    I have just watered it and removed it from this room. Can you advise what the best course of action is.

    Thank you

    1. Dear Daniel.
      Crispy leaves are a result of lack of water or the bonsai being so hot that the water cannot be taken up the plant quickly enough.
      You have done the right thing. A cooler position whilst this hot weather lasts or frequent misting may help
      kind regards
      Sarah

  74. Hello my Chinese Elm has started losing both yellow and green leaves (which don’t feel crispy) suddenly as autumn struck; it is kept indoors. Are there any tips i could use to keep my tree healthy in these winter months? unfortunately all my windows have radiators under them and once the time of the season comes to turn them on, soon, i don’t know what to do.
    Thanks, Indra.

    1. Dear Indra,
      I suspect this is just a seasonal change which will last for approximately 3 weeks.
      If this is the case the new growing tips would not be affected. If the growing tips are also affected please send us a photo.
      Please keep the soil damp and not wet. When a bonsai loses some leaves its need for water is greatly reduced.
      Usually, seasonal leaf drop is followed by a growth spurt and lots of new leaves emerge.
      I hope this helps
      kind regards
      Sarah

  75. I just got my elm today and its got orange leaves what should i do

    1. Enjoy the seasonal leaf colour

  76. Hi, I hope I’m not joining this thread too late…

    I have a Chinese Elm Bonsai that is dying and I’m not sure how to save it. I received it around Christmas and it was doing really well until about a month in when all the leaves crisped and dried (I probably watered it too little in the winter, and I’m not sure if the soil is right). I’ve been trying to revive it, so I first cut off all the dead leaves and twigs and have been given the tree a water bath once a week. I mist every day and water every 2/3 days. I’ve only used the fertilizer that came with the Bonsai twice.

    I just performed the scratch test and I scratched it in a few locations, at the top of the tree the cambium is still green but at the bottom (one of the exposed roots) the cambium is white. Not fully brown yet, but white. I’m not sure what to do now and I would really appreciate some help/advice as to how to revive this baby.

    All the best,
    Maria

    1. Hi Maria
      If the leaves have gone dry and crispy with does indicate insufficient water or the bonsai getting too hot.
      Please keep the soil damp and not overly wet as it is tempting to give it too much water – this makes it worse.
      please mist the leaves/ branches daily.
      The white layer is actually the heart wood on the root so this is not a bad sign.
      All you can do is wait until spring and hope if re-buds.
      Kind regards
      Bonsai Direct

  77. Words cannot express how thankful I am for the valuable information I’ve gained from this website. It has broadened my understanding and empowered me to pursue my goals.Your dedication is truly commendable. It’s evident that the creators have a deep understanding of the topics covered, and their passion for sharing knowledge shines through. Thank you for sharing such valuable information and contributing to our growth. Great Thanks!

  78. Hi My Chinese Elm Bonsai has yellowing leaves which drop after a few days. Even some of the new leaves do this.
    It sits on a window sill where it gets good sunlight for most of the day (if there is any)
    Because of the yellowing leaves I also put a grow light near it.
    I water when the soil feels just damp and use a bonsai fertiliser in the water
    May -present (August)
    It isn’t very bushy, although all branches are alive and do have new growth.
    I would love to know what I am doing wrong and how I can make it happier.
    I am reluctant to put it outdoors as It is a postage stamp size garden & there are so many bugs
    (Including a rose with black spot which I keep cutting off. )
    Thank you for any advice. I can send photos if I can work out how

    1. Hi Suzi. Thanks for your message. How long have you had the bonsai please? Do you know when it was last re-potted?
      You are welcome to email the photo to [email protected] so we can give you the correct advice,
      with thanks
      Sarah

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