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Creating a Chinese Elm Bonsai Forest- Step-By-Step Guide.

Creating a bonsai forest is fantastic and using Chinese elm bonsai for it is a smart choice. Chinese elm bonsai is hardy and will cooperate with the art. If you are planning to create a Chinese elm bonsai forest I will guide you through this article step by step. 

Before that if you have landed on this page out of curiosity and the term bonsai forest is new to you I will give a short description of what bonsai forest is;

What Is A Bonsai Forest?

The term bonsai forest refers to a large number of bonsai plants put in a single container. This technique often uses many bonsai trees of the same variety, but you may also create bonsai forests with multiple varieties. When more species are put in a container, it gets more difficult to construct a bonsai forest. 

Here’s what a bonsai forest looks like;

Now that you have an idea about what a bonsai forest is, let’s create it;

Creating Chinese Elm Bonsai Forest (Step-By-Step):

The best season for setting up a group planting or Chinese elm bonsai forest is in the spring when your trees are beginning to show symptoms of new growth.

Things You Will Need To Create A Chinese Elm Bonsai Forest:

  • Wide and shallow bonsai pot
  • Wires
  • Meshes for drainage holes
  • Substrate or potting soil
  • Chinese elm bonsai plants
  • Moss to decorate
  • Few bonsai tools ( wire cutting scissors, bamboo stick, spatula)


Take the shallow wide pot. Cut mesh in a square shape and place it over the drainage holes. The purpose of these is to create a barrier which will help to not let the potting soil run out of the drainage holes. You have to make sure the cloth you are using is mesh because it will help to drain the water instead of clogging it. 


In this step, we have to fix the mesh over the drainage hole with wires. Keep the excess wire as it will work as an anchor after placing the bonsai in the pot. This will give stability to your Chinese elm bonsai forest.


Put the first layer of substrate, just above that layer you can place a substance that prevents metal ions from attaching to form salts. You can use charcoal or bamboo. 

Usually, the role of chelate is to keep the neutral pH of the soil medium, favouring root aeration and sustaining the construction of mycorrhizae. You can buy charcoal from any nearest shopping centre.


Now it’s time to place the trees. Prepare the trees first. Clean their roots with the use of bonsai shears or pruners. Clean the area with a root rake before pruning to have a better view. Now place it over the substrate. First, take the main tree and place it. Use the other trees to accentuate the placement of the main tree. If this is your first bonsai forest it has 3 to 4 Chinese elm bonsai. If the placements are getting confusing simply use a liner design. You can also place the main tree near the centre and place the other trees around it while maintaining a similar gap. 


Add substrate or soil medium to fill the pot to the rim. Use your hand to keep the trees in position. After you are happy with how they have been placed you can go ahead and anchor them with the wire that was left by you from the drainage holes. 

Chinese elm bonsai forest


Trim all the bonsai to your desired shape to make it more presentable. 


Place the moss to decorate as well as to prevent the potting soil from pouring out of the pot when watering. Also, moss shows a natural look to forests. But not to cover the entire soil with moss, keep some gaps in between them in pieces to make it look real.

Care Requirements Of Your Chinese Elm Bonsai Forest:

Caring for a Chinese elm bonsai forest is not that different from caring for a single Chinese elm bonsai. But there are a few things you need to be aware of. These are;

  1. Chinese elm grows quite fast and because of that you have to keep your pruning shears handy. 
  2. If you created the bonsai forest from young plants, there’s a high possibility that your bonsai will need another bigger pot anytime soon. 
  3. These pots are shallow and they are quite hard to water so make sure you are watering over the moss. It will work as a water retainer. 
  4. If you are keeping the bonsai forest indoors, place it near a well-lit window. Also, open the windows from time to time so that there will be good airflow between them. 
  5. Rotate the pot to provide sunlight at every angle or else one side of the trees will grow more than others. It will ruin your bonsai forest’s look. 
  6. Make sure all your trees are healthy and free from pests. If one tree dies in the middle it will create a gap and the look won’t be that appealing. 

That’s it, your simple and easy Chinese elm bonsai forest is ready. Other than moss you can also add more creativity to your forest like rocks and moss-covered rocks to give a more realistic look. These young bonsais will mature with you and you are surely going to admire the progress that time will generate in your forest. 

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