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Chinese Elm (Ulmus parvifolia) Indoor Bonsai tree
  • Perfect for beginners
  • Fun to prune
  • Great twig structure
  • Easy to care for
  • Fast growing
  • Beautiful leaf proportion
Example of Chinese Elmbonsai tree

Chinese Elm Indoor Bonsai Tree

The Chinese Elm (Ulmus parvifolia) 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.
In our opinion the Chinese Elm is the most perfectly proportioned, easy to care for and adaptable tree and makes a superb bonsai. Can be grown as an indoor or outdoor bonsai.
A must for anyone and absolutely perfect for beginners. This is a fabulous bonsai to learn pruning, styling & potting techniques because it is fast growing and back buds quickly forming lovely dense foliage pads.

A bonsai tree with a wonderful meaning …

Furthermore, known as ‘The tree of harmony’; the Elm symbolises inner strength, intuition, wisdom & love.  A beautiful bonsai which symbolises love, balance, calm and peaceful energy.
Frequently purchased for the sentiment of love & devotion. We think it would make an astounding birthday or anniversary gift.

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Chinese Elm Meaning

Bonsai in general symbolise peace, harmony, order of thoughts and balance.
Known as ‘The tree of harmony’, the Elm symbolises inner strength, intuition and wisdom.
A beautiful bonsai which signifies love, balance, calm and a peaceful energy.

Chinese Elm (Ulmus parvifolia) Bonsai Tree Care Summary


The Chinese Elm is an easy bonsai to care for. It is not overly fussy about positioning. However, it prefers a position with good natural daylight but out of direct sunlight, especially during the hottest summer months. We recommend a position away from radiators if possible. A window sill would be great but avoid south facing window-sills in mid summer


As an indoor bonsai the Chinese Elm is not fussy about temperature. If you are growing your bonsai outside, please place in a sheltered position in the garden. Outside this bonsai is semi-evergreen so you should expect the leaves to drop. For very cold nights (below freezing) we would recommend that you bring the bonsai into a shed, glasshouse or cool room


Watering is an important part of growing bonsai trees, an indoor bonsai is dependent upon us to check it regularly to ensure it does not dry out. Please check the soil daily whilst you are learning. To touch the soil surface, if the soil is wet or damp then your bonsai does not require water. When the soil is barely damp to the touch please soak the soil. Please view our video for help.


All indoor bonsai trees benefit from having their foliage misted with water. This is in addition to watering the soil. Misting helps to maintain the humidity around the tree, this is more important during winter months when the central heating is on, as this tends to dry out the air.


If you are growing your bonsai indoors, please feed weekly with a liquid bonsai fertiliser. Please avoid using houseplant fertiliser as it can be too strong and scorch the roots. Bonsai Direct fertiliser is ideal for all varieties of bonsai has contains all the nutrients and trace elements your tree requires.


An indoor Chinese Elm will grow all year (only a little more slowly during winter months). It is a fun bonsai to prune and ideal for beginners. We usually recommend allowing 2 new pairs of leaves to form before pruning back to the first pair. Pruning encourages new leaves to form and helps maintain a highly defined shape. New leaves have a fresh lime green colour. You can prune at any time of year.
If you would like to add shape to existing branches you could try wiring your bonsai. This is a technique used to add more character to your tree.

Growing/Propagating your own Chinese Elm bonsai trees

We are frequently asked for bonsai seed kits but the reality is that thee kits are rather a disappointed. They frequently don’t germinate and it is not the best way to propagate indoor bonsai trees. You are far better to purchase a bonsai, so you can enjoy growing it, and propagate new bonsai by taking cuttings.
These are best taken in spring. Allow new shoots to grow 8-10cm and then prune with clean pruning scissors. Pop these cuttings into some fresh multipurpose compost in a small pot. Water them and then keep misting to maintain humidity.

Re-potting your bonsai

Young bonsai will require repotting more regularly that mature specimens. All plants become pot bound over time, and bonsai trees are no exception. We recommend re-potting or root pruning (if the pot is still aesthetically larger enough) usually every 2-3 years.

Bonsai Tip

We recommend a weekly spray with Plant Invigorator to prevent pests and diseases and to keep your bonsai healthy. This really stimulates the Chinese Elm.
Please avoid using air freshener near your bonsai, they are not overly keen!

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26 replies

  1. HI

    Do your smaller Chinese Elm’s come potted in Akadama Soil or something different?


    1. Hi Steve,

      Most of our younger Chinese Elms are not in akadama, as they get moved into akadama with age. Having said that, all of our premium range bonsai are in akadama. Our stock is constantly changing, but we sometimes have some smaller ones in stock.

      Hope this helps!

  2. hi I’ve just recived my first Chinese elm and I’m worried on its condition I’m losing leaves and and yellowing please advise kind regards billy

    1. Hi Billy,

      This could be due to a number of reasons, so if you’re able to email some photos of the tree to [email protected], we should be able to give you some advice.


  3. Hi I have had my Chinese elm bonsai for a a few weeks now, its happy and green and is growing beautifully since I pruned it and let it settle into it’s new home. But today I realied the soil had a few worms they looked like mini slugs almost and were clear I picked them out and also had to pick one out of the root of the tree. This has worried me, please could house advice what to do and how to treat this? Thanks

    1. Hi Ru,
      The worms are most likely harmless nematodes. Please just stand the tree in water for 1 hour, so that the water covers the top of the pot – this will hopefully kill any pests.
      After that, please leave the bonsai to drain, and then continue to water as normal.
      I hope this helps.
      Best wishes,

  4. I have had my Chinese elm for almost 2 years and I am worried that it is shedding many of its leaves at the moment. Is this normal or does it need some special feed. Please advise. It was a present from my son and I don’t want it to die.

    1. Hi Angela,
      It is normal for a Chinese Elm to go through some seasonal change at this time of the year.
      However, if you would be happy to send a picture to [email protected] we can take a look for you.
      Kind regards,
      Bonsai Direct

  5. What Is the White fir on my base of my elm tree and on the soil. this has happen after I have feed and watered it. I have only had the tree 3 weeks thank you.

    1. Hi Steve,
      The fur will either be a mineral build-up from your water or a soil-borne fungus. Both of these are completely harmless and nothing to worry about.
      If you want to remove it, you can use a soft brush (like an old toothbrush) to clean it off.
      I hope this helps.
      Kind regards,
      Bonsai Direct

  6. Hi I have just received my Chinese Elm and it looks beautiful. It did not have a drip tray should this have been included.

    Many Thanks

    Roy McCafferty

    1. Dear Roy
      Thanks for your order. The drip tray on this bonsai is an optional extra.
      Kindly see the description and it is not photographed with the tray:
      I am so pleased that you like your new little tree. I hope this is helpful.
      best wishes Bonsai Direct

  7. Hi,
    I received my first bonsai, a Chinese Elm tree (about 6- 8 years old) in January. It has settled really well in his new home and is growing new shoots.
    I would like to know when should I re-pot it. In the information leaflet it says every 2- 3 years but I wonder when was it re- potted last and which signs should tell me that it’s time to do so. The soil is normal potting soil, not akadama. It soaks water well when watered but I am not sure how to check if it’s draining well. I wouldn’t like to cause any damage to the roots.

    1. Hi Maria.
      If is is a bonsai which we have supplied at that age I would think summer 2022 to repot.
      You can do it sooner if you wish but it would not be necessary.
      I hope this helps
      Bonsai Direct

  8. Dear Team, I’d like to buy a tree, but may I ask are Chinese Elm toxic to pets? Our cat (Holly) likes to nibble the ends of leaves sometimes.

    A new tree is for sure going to get a quick nibble. Hence the concern to ask.

    1. Hi Luigi,
      No, the Chinese Elm is not toxic to pets. We have 5 cats ourselves and they all love the bonsai!
      I hope this helps.
      Kind regards,
      Bonsai Direct

  9. Hi, I received a Chinese Elm as a birthday gift in April this year, I placed it in my unheated conservatory where it has been growing quite happily. Is it safe to leave it in the conservatory over winter? Do you think wrapping the pot in an insulating layer of bubble wrap would give it enough protection from frost? Or should I bring it indoors? I Live in West Lothian, in Scotland needless to say it can get a bit nippy here in the winter. 🙂

    1. Hi Linda,
      The Chinese Elm bonsai will be fine in your conservatory over winter – please keep the soil damp and not too wet as it will be transpiring more slowly.
      It could revert to being deciduous and drop its leaves but they will bud back in the spring.
      If you bring it back inside then it may still drop some leaves, but it will bud back quickly and basically remain evergreen.
      I hope this helps
      kind regards
      Sarah – Bonsai Direct

  10. You have mentioned very interesting points! ps decent web site. “‘We’re always lucky,’ I said and like a fool I did not knock on wood.” by Ernest Hemingway.

    1. Hi Jamie,
      Thank you for taking the time to read our post. Your feedback is most appreciated!

      Many thanks,
      Bonsai Direct

  11. I as well believe hence, perfectly pent post!My bonsai arrived on time, really well packaged. It had a lovely twisty shape – a gift for my sister so I hope she lovely it. Highly recommend Bonsai Direct. great service guys!

  12. This is my favourite of the indoor bonsai that I have purchased from Bonsai Direct. It looks just like a tree but in miniature size. Absolutely incredible – I love it. Thanks so much. I would recommend this bonsai as it looks lovely and was delivered the next day when I chose free delivery.

  13. Hello there, You’ve done an excellent job. I will certainly enjoy the excellent bonsai which I ordered from you. I have been reading up on your website – very informative. I can highly recommend these guys. First class service and really fantastic bonsai tree.

    1. Dear Brian,
      Thank you for your message. For those wondering which bonsai tree Brian ordered. Here is the link. It is one of our older more mature beginners indoor bonsai kits and is perfect to get started.
      Thanks again Brian – we hope you enjoy your new bonsai.
      Kind regards Bonsai Direct

  14. I recently stumbled upon your blog about Chinese Elm indoor bonsai trees for beginners, and I must say, it has become an invaluable resource for me as I delve into the world of bonsai cultivation. Here’s why I am truly captivated by your blog:

    Thorough and Informative Content: Your blog provides a wealth of information about Chinese Elm bonsai trees, covering every aspect from their care requirements to styling techniques. The comprehensive nature of your content ensures that I have all the knowledge I need to successfully nurture and maintain my bonsai tree. It’s like having a knowledgeable bonsai mentor guiding me every step of the way.
    Step-by-Step Guidance: As a beginner, I greatly appreciate the detailed, step-by-step instructions you provide. From choosing the right pot and soil mixture to shaping and pruning techniques, your blog takes the guesswork out of bonsai cultivation. I find myself referring to your posts repeatedly, gaining confidence as I follow your guidance and witness the transformation of my Chinese Elm bonsai.
    Troubleshooting Expertise: One of the most valuable aspects of your blog is the troubleshooting tips you offer. Bonsai trees can encounter various challenges, and your comprehensive approach to addressing common issues is incredibly helpful. Whether it’s pest infestations, disease identification, or responding to environmental stress, your insightful suggestions have saved my bonsai tree on multiple occasions.
    Inspiring Visuals: The images you include in your blog are nothing short of awe-inspiring. Seeing the beauty and artistry of well-maintained Chinese Elm bonsai trees motivates and inspires me to create my own miniature masterpiece. The diversity of bonsai styles you showcase fuels my imagination and encourages me to experiment with different designs and arrangements.
    Engaging Community: The sense of community fostered by your blog is truly remarkable. The comment sections allow readers like myself to interact, seek advice, and share experiences. It’s heartwarming to see how fellow bonsai enthusiasts come together to support one another. Your timely responses to questions and willingness to engage with readers make the learning journey even more enjoyable.
    In conclusion, your blog about Chinese Elm indoor bonsai trees for beginners has been a game-changer for me. With its informative content, step-by-step guidance, troubleshooting expertise, inspiring visuals, and vibrant community, it has become my go-to resource. Thank you for creating such a valuable platform that enriches the bonsai experience for beginners like myself. I eagerly await each new post and look forward to continuing this exciting bonsai journey with your guidance.

  15. Super blog! I am loving it!! Will be back later to read some more.

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