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Caring for Chinese Elm Bonsai in Different Seasons- The Only Bonsai Tree Care Calendar You Will Need.

Chinese elm bonsai

We frequently get asked what to do with their Chinese elm bonsai in a particular season, mostly these questions are from new bonsai owners. So, we have created a care calendar for your bonsai. Learning to care for your Chinese elm bonsai is a balance of intuition and observation. In fact, clinging to a set schedule is a way to harm or destroy your bonsai. 

Your bonsai develops in rotations and will have distinct requirements throughout the year. Equipping the right maintenance at the right time helps optimal growth and fast healing from any stressful situation. This easy-to-follow bonsai tree guide breaks down what to maintain in every season. We will cover 4 major seasons- winter, spring, summer, and autumn. 

1) Winter Dormancy: 


Chinese elm bonsai goes into dormancy so you need to protect the bonsai in winter. These trees undergo mild or no winter in the wild and do well indoors during the freezing season. South-facing window sills are best; use a grow light to supplement it with lights if sunlight is limited. It’s advisable to keep these bonsai in a greenhouse, cold frame, or garage during freezing nights in winter. If keeping it outdoors, shield or bury the pot and shield it from harsh wind and sun. 


Chinese elm bonsai like most bonsai needs less moisture during winter because their growth cycles have stalled. Watch your bonsai closely and provide water only when the soil has dried.


Do not re-pot in the peak of winter months, your Chinese elm bonsai in winter is depends on fuel stored in its roots during this period. Late winter repotting is most advisable. Do it just before the arrival of the spring, but if you have performed root pruning take extra care of the trees as they are vulnerable and can get frostbite. You can cover the soil with a layer of mulch or plastic to do it. 


As spring is coming and there are lots of tasks to perform in this short period of time, winter is an ideal time to outline your future plans. As the growing season comes, you’ll also need to get your tools washed, pots selected, and fresh soil ordered. 

This time your tree will be in it’s most fragile phase so your Chinese elm bonsai winter care should be important and unavoidable.

Summary of winter care tips:

  • Move your indoor Chinese elm bonsai into well-lit windows or place it under grow lights. 
  • Trim the old hanging leaves from the bonsai.
  • It’s the perfect time of year for your Chinese elm bonsai to get wired up.
  • Don’t do repotting on Chinese elm bonsai until early spring. 
  • Be alert about watering: as the amount and frequency will rise gradually. 
  • Be vigilant for pests that may be hiding on the back sides of bonsai. 

2) Spring Care Guidance:

With the arrival of spring, the daytime will gradually get longer, and along with that temperatures start to increase, and your bonsai will awaken from its winter dormancy. Watch your bonsai properly; in spring, your bonsai tree care calendar circles around the growth phases of the leaves: dormant, swelling, growing, and open. Every moment is important. 


When placing your bonsai outside, keep an eye out for cold nights and freezing mornings. When you’re convinced that the fear of freezing has gone, you can relocate your tree outdoors permanently for the season. Move the pot regularly to ensure that your awakening tree receives a consistent supply of sunshine.


The fertilizer schedule for your tree will begin in the spring. You can use a well-balanced bonsai-specific fertilizer like NPK 19-19-19. 


If you plan to re-pot your Chinese elm bonsai and trim the roots, do so when the leaf buds are coming. If the leaves had already opened, you just missed the perfect chance. Check out our article to learn how to re-pot a bonsai properly. 

Trimming & Pruning:

Early spring is the best time to pinch and prune the bonsai. Do it before the rapid growth has started. This helps provide fuel to only the branches that you’re keeping.


You can wire in late spring, but keep an eye on your tree’s progress. Trees develop quickly at this time of year, and too-tight wire may harm and bite into their branches. 


Your tree will need more regular watering as it enters the growing season. Observe the soil closely and water when it starts to dry. 

Summary of spring care tips:

  • Fertilize more often.
  • Provide water more often when outdoors. 
  • Spray for insects and fungus
  • Complete repotting trees in early spring. 
  • Take out old wire to stop scarring

3) Summer Bonsai Care: 


As the summer heat grows more intense, Chinese elm bonsai will thrive in some daytime shade. Check for damage from the sun and move your bonsai if it becomes withered or crunchy. Begin turning often to ensure even growth. 


Summer heat requires more regular watering for your bonsai. Keep a close eye on soil dryness; according to this bonsai care calendar, water twice every day. 


The best time to wire your tree is in early to mid-summer when the branches are most flexible. Wire after cutting down and pruning to reduce hurdles. 


Continue trimming throughout the summer, removing branches and leaves that are overloaded or opposed with the desired look.


If you overlooked the chance to repot your tree before the leaves opened up, you can do so with care once they have matured completely. When transplanting in the summer, remove approximately 25-30 percent fewer roots than what you would do in springtime.

Tips for summer:

  • Bud pinch all Chinese elm. 
  • Move the bonsai into a semi-shade.
  • Fertilize everything well. 
  • Take out old wire before it bites the bark. 
  • Isolate healthy and vulnerable trees; healthy trees consume water daily, and weaker trees consume less. 
  • Elm trees should be trimmed back heavily. 
  • Rotate trees on benches to provide more light on the back sides.

4) Autumn Bonsai Care

Putting your bonsai tree into hibernation is one of the most crucial tasks on the maintenance list. As winter draws near, the plant’s development will decrease. Here’s how to prepare your bonsai for a lengthy winter sleep: 


Your Chinese elm bonsai can stay outside through early autumn, just reposition it to a sunny spot on your property. Nevertheless, early fall is a crucial time to prepare for winter storage, as chilly weather can strike fast and unpredictably afterward in the year. 

Moving Indoors: 

Move your Chinese elm bonsai trees indoors once temperatures dip in the nighttime. They are cold hardy to some level but it’s better to keep them safe. 


As the days are chilly, your bonsai tree will require less frequently. Provide water when the soil dries up slightly from the upper part. 

Preparing for Storage:

Let your bonsai lose leaves naturally. Before transferring it to the winter storehouse, pull out all remaining leaves. Clean your bonsai and consider spreading it with an anti-bacterial solution. 

Summary of the tips in autumn:

  • Fertilize liberally through the end of September. 
  • Pluck out the hanging leaves of the bonsai before putting it inside. 
  • Clean bark and roots from mineral residues.
  • Plan out projects for winter. 
  • Scan to make sure the old wire isn’t biting into branches. 
  • Mark out bonsai that will need work over the winter. 
  • Prepare cold frames and storage spots for outdoor trees. 
  • Find sunlit windows or buy artificial grow lights for indoor Bonsai. 
  • No major pruning, especially on indoor trees. 

It might seem a lot at the beginning but I can assure you that once you get a hold on it it will become normal for you. Just have patience and be gentle with your bonsai. If you have any doubts feel free to ask us in the comment section below. 

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