Chinese Elm Bonsai Description & Care

Chinese Elm Bonsai [Oriental Lacebark Bonsai] ~ Ulmus parvifolia

This one of my favourite indoor bonsai; it is easy to care for and has a naturally small proportioned leaves. It is a great bonsai to style. It forms a beautiful s-shaped flowing trunk and lovely twiggy branches when correctly styled. This would be my personal recommendation for an indoor bonsai tree. I hope that you loave them as much as I do - Sarah.

The Chinese /Oriental Lacebark Elm makes a truly beautiful bonsai. The leaves are small, bright to deep green and are slightly serrated. The tree has excellent twig structure and has great character throughout, making it the perfect representation of a woodland tree. After time the silvery bark gently peels and reveals shades of red and tan; giving rise to the name Lacebark Elm. In our opinion it is the most perfectly proportioned, easy to care for and adaptable tree and makes a superb bonsai. The Lacebark can be grown as an indoor or outdoor bonsai.

Bonsai Care Tips

  • Your bonsai is a living tree and with the right care it should live for many years. We hope that your bonsai brings pleasure to your home.
  • During winter place your bonsai in the brightest place possible, trying to avoid hot objects like radiators and televisions. Good daylight is essential to the trees health. In summer time beware of hot south facing windows, a little sunlight morning or evening is beneficial, but too much and your bonsai could over heat.
  • To aid the health of your bonsai place it on a humidity tray. This will catch the water draining through the holes in the bottom of the bonsai pot. This water will create some humidity around your bonsai. Please take care that the tray does not overflow onto your furniture and make sure that your bonsai does not sit in the water.
  • Watering is the most important part of growing bonsai. Check your bonsai morning and evening to see if it needs watering. If the soil looks dark and feels wet then it will not require watering. Only when the soil looks light brown and feels damp will your bonsai require more water. Water thoroughly all over the soil until the water drains through into a tray or saucer. Never let your bonsai dry out and avoid keeping it constantly wet. The soil should go from wet to damp between watering. Remember the hotter the position the more water your bonsai will use. If the soil surface becomes hard during hot weather simply submerge your bonsai in water, to cover the soil surface, for about ten minutes.
  • To maintain the artistic grace and beauty of your bonsai it will need to be pruned regularly. Once new shoots have grown to about 2-3cm, using a sharp pair bonsai scissors carefully cut back to the first pair of new leaves.
  • To keep your bonsai strong and healthy we recommend the use of a good bonsai fertiliser. Bonsai fertiliser, an informative DVD and further advice are available from our website,
  • A bonsai is a living work of art and seasonal changes can sometimes be experienced.

Please do not be concerned if, within 2 , 3 weeks of delivery, your bonsai shows signs of yellowing or falling leaves (normally the older leaves, not the new tips). Not all bonsai will exhibit these symptoms, but it is not uncommon. Your bonsai is simply acclimatizing to its new environment. A few leaves may drop, but within a few weeks you should notice new bright green buds starting to develop.

6 thoughts on “Chinese Elm Bonsai Description & Care”

  • paul maskew

    A friend of mine has left me his bonsai to look after whilst on holiday until February.
    Which would be the best place to site the tree - on an east facing landing windowsill or south-east facing conservatory that is quite cool at night? The conservatory is brighter but cooler than in the main house. Would it be wise to mist daily or stand on damp gravel for humidity?
    Any help welcome. I'm a keen outdoor gardener but never tried bonsai. I'm becoming more interested!

    • Bonsai Direct

      Dear Paul,
      Thank you for your comments. The best place for the bonsai would be the windowsill at this time of year. I feel that if the conservatory goes very cool at night then the bonsai would revert to being deciduous and drop its leaves.
      There will be plenty of natural daylight on a east-facing window sill and it will not get too hot during the winter months.
      Misting the foliage daily is always great but this should be considered in addition to watering.
      You need to check the bonsai daily for water. If the soil is wet then do not water the bonsai and check later in the day. When the soil feels barely damp then water well. ie pour a jug of water over the soil until water runs out of the drainage holes or stand the bonsai in water for a couple of minutes.
      When you do water make sure all the soil is wet through.
      A damp gravel tray is ideal but please avoid standing the bonsai in water becuase this could rot the roots.
      I hope this helps and that you enjoy looking after your friends bonsai.
      kind regards
      Bonsai Direct

  • Mark Woodburn

    Hi I have recently bought my 1st bonsai and looks the same as the one you have pictured here with a straight trunk -

    I was just wondering if there is a way that I could shape the trunk, so it is more like the others you have? eg -


    • Bonsai Direct

      Hi Mark,
      Thanks for your enquiry.
      It is not possible to change the existing trunk but the bonsai can be re-grown and re-styled.
      This takes many years and you would need some experience to do this.
      My advice would be to grown and learn about the bonsai you have and then to purchase a twisty trunked bonsai at a later date.
      Maybe an idea for your Christmas wish list!!,
      Best wishes
      Ps there are some videos on our website which may help:

  • Ryan

    I have recently bought my first bonsai and wondered what the best way to get rid of spider mites would be, thankyou

    • Bonsai Direct

      Hi Ryan,
      Most good gardens centres or DIY stores will sell a pesticide to treat Red Spider Mite.
      We use a plant invigorator (because it is organic) but you have to use it every 5 days.
      Whatever you use, please spray thoroughly (ensure you also spray under the leaves and the trunk and branches).
      i hope this helps
      kind regards
      Sarah - Bonsai Direct

Leave a Reply