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Propagating Chinese Elm Bonsai Cuttings And From Seeds

A Chinese elm bonsai can be propagated from seeds and cuttings. Cutting propagation is most famous as seeds take too much time to grow into a bonsai. But on the other hand, growing a bonsai from scratch is a different kind of rewarding feeling. Seed propagation has less success rate while cutting rarely possesses the characteristics of the mother plant. Even though both techniques have drawbacks and advantages, both techniques are mostly used to propagate Chinese elm bonsai. I will explain both ways so you can use the method that seems more fitting for you. 

Chinese Elm Bonsai Seed Propagation:

Even though seed germination of Chinese elm bonsai is very low, if you use more than one seed you will increase the success rate. Also, the positive factor of seed propagation is that you will have full control over the bonsai from the beginning. So let’s learn how to do it;

Step 1:

First, you have to collect seeds. Chinese elm bonsai seeds can be found in your local area. You can collect them from the wild or else you can purchase the seeds online. Locally collected seeds are healthier. If you cultivate seeds locally you should start the germination process in the fall as they will be appropriate according to the season. If you want to propagate seeds out of season you should opt for online stores. To awaken the seeds and increase their germination rate you might need to use the stratification method, which I will describe in the next step. 

Step 2:

Stratification is a process that is used on seeds to imitate their local habitat to succeed in germination rate. Most seeds are equipped to survive in winter and at the beginning of the spring they germinate naturally. If you are propagating in other climates you should follow this method. Soak the seeds in lukewarm water for overnight or 24 hours. After that put the seeds in a zip lock bag with some bonsai soil. Moist the soil and put it in the fridge. The soil must stay moist all the time so check it from time to time. You can use a wet paper towel for this method as well. 

Step 3:

After about three to four months the seeds can be placed in a plastic container or bonsai pot. 

Step 4:

Apply mesh at the bottom of the pot to avoid soil loss. Add a layer of grit or draining substance at the bottom of the pot. Over it add a layer of bonsai potting medium. Now place the seeds properly over the soil maintaining gaps in between. Add another layer of bonsai soil over it. 

Step 5:

Use your finger pads to keep the soil in place. 

Step 6:

Water the bonsai thoroughly and try to keep it moist. You can use a plastic wrap over the pot to increase the humidity around the soil. 

Step 7: 

Keep it like that until you notice the seedlings growing leaves. Place the grown seedlings in individual pots. 

Propagation From Chinese Elm Bonsai Cuttings:

Propagation from Chinese elm bonsai cuttings methods are mostly chosen by growers as they are quicker than seed propagation and it’s free. Here’s a step-by-step guide;

Step 1:

Trim out some cuttings from the mother plant and place the cuttings in a bowl full of water. Now choose the cuttings for propagation that have at least 3 nodes or 3 sets of leaves. Roots will appear out of those nodes so it’s important. 

Chinese elm bonsai cuttings

Step 2:

Pinch the Chinese elm bonsai cuttings from the bottom a few inches and slide down your finger. The leaves from the bottom half of the cutting should come out easily. You need to have a clear bottom part of the cuttings. 

Step 3:

Now this step is optional. Dip the bottom half of the Chinese elm bonsai cuttings in a rooting hormone if available. This will increase the chance of their survival. Dip them for 3 to 5 seconds and then remove them. 

Step 4:

Now fill a bonsai pot or a plastic pot with potting soil and moisten it. Poke holes in the soil with something larger in diameter like a pencil. Take the Chinese elm bonsai cuttings and insert them into the soil one by one. These extra few steps will ensure that the rooting hormone will not rub off while you are inserting them in the soil. 

Step 5:

Use your finger pads and press it down around the holes a little to keep the cuttings in place. 

Step 6:

Use a plastic wrap to cover the Chinese elm bonsai cuttings to increase the humidity around them. Keep the pot in a shady place and moisten the soil from time to time. You also need to mist the leaves if you see them wilting. 

Step 7:

After about four weeks, check the Chinese elm bonsai cuttings. Tug them lightly to feel the resistance and if they resist it confirms that they produced roots already. Unwrap the plastic and let it be like that for a few days. 

Step 8:

Gradually place it near the window and treat it like a normal tree. Don’t give them a shock. 

Many people lose patience in both of these methods but I have noticed the main reason behind unsuccessful germination is hurrying into the process. Even after they are rooted you need to be consistent with care and patience. Propagating a bonsai is a therapeutic process and every bonsai owner should try it for once at least. If you have any more doubts about the propagation methods ask us in the comment section below. 

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