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Troubleshooting Common Problems With Chinese Elm Bonsai

Chinese elm bonsai

It’s true that Chinese elm bonsai is one of the easiest to grow as a bonsai but that does not mean they are free from all kinds of plant issues. Surprisingly most of the issues are extreme negligence. The good thing is that most of these issues can be cured so without any delay let’s talk about what issues your Chinese elm bonsai can face. 

Chinese Elm Bonsai Leaves Related Issues:

1) Yellow Leaves:

Chinese elm bonsai yellow leaves

Yellow leaves arise when the Chinese Elm Bonsai tree does not receive enough natural light. You may have given it the proper quantity of nutrients and water, as well as maintained adequate air circulation, but if it does not receive enough sunlight, it will start to show signs of fading leaves. 


To fix this issue, first re-adjust the level of moisture around the bonsai, whether indoors or outside. The ideal state will be achieved by striking a balance between good humidity and sun exposure. If you continue to do this correctly, the bonsai should re-grow lush green leaves in a matter of weeks or months. 

2) Leaf Drop:

Chinese elm bonsai leaf drop

Overwatering is the most possible reason for falling leaves of Chinese elm bonsai. Constant moisture in the soil creates an unhealthy environment for the bonsai and ruins the quality of the soil. If this situation continues for a few months it will suffer from root rot and die. It will show symptoms from the beginning by dropping the leaves. 


You only need to water the bonsai when the upper section of the soil is slightly dry. Cut back on watering your bonsai and let the soil dry out mostly before providing water again. Gradually it will revive. 

3) Brown Leaf Tips:

Chinese elm bonsai brown leaf tip

This is an indication of underwatering. A dry atmosphere also caused this. This mainly affects indoor Chinese elm bonsai as the indoor environment is much drier than the outdoors. However, you can easily indicate if your tree is suffering from dryness by checking the soil. Use a wooden chopstick and insert it in the soil if it comes out dry it’s a tale that your bonsai is thirsty. 


Increase watering and start misting your bonsai. If you can bring the bonsai outside as well. But do everything gradually. You don’t want to give them shock with sudden pampering after treating them like the middle child. Gradually it should show signs of revival. 

4) Curly, Dry, and Crispy Leaves:

Chinese elm bonsai crispy and dry leaves

These are other signs of underwatering. Curly leaves are the first sign of a lack of moisture. When they have less water they try to scrunch themselves in an attempt to live as long as possible. If you leave it unnoticed even after that it will dry and become crispy. Adequate light along with dryness triggers this situation most. 


Water the tree properly and gradually. Make sure the water is running out of the drainage holes. mist the foliages once a day as well. Give them partial light instead of full sun for the time being. The leaves that will look far from cure should be trimmed out to ensure new growth and fresh growth will appear. 

Drowning Issue:

This problem happens when you add too much water and the soil in your pot remains wet for a long time. Excessive wetness can cause bonsai bark rot, discoloration, and dry foliage. 


Managing this problem is fairly easy, make sure to use quick-draining soil and give the bonsai water only when the top part of the soil is dry. If the soil retains moisture for a long time to the point it looks wet for a day or two you might need to repot or change the soil components. Add sand or fine grit in the soil to give a smoother and swift drainage process. 

Dutch Elm Disease:

This is a kind of fungal disease that will damage the upper stems of the Chinese Elm bonsai tree, causing the leaves to turn yellow and eventually die during summer days. As you might have seen, this initial symptom is rather similar to the yellow leaves problem above when the bonsai didn’t get good light. So to differentiate, you should check whether there are patches of fungus throughout the bonsai along with the initial sign of yellow leaves. If you compare with other elm Chinese elm is least susceptible for this issue but it’s better to be ready for the worst. 


You should use fungicides to fix this issue. You can also trim the bonsai and hope the infection stops. Make sure you hold the infected branches sealed when you get rid of them, so they won’t circulate to other branches.

To prevent the situation, always check the bonsai from time to time to see whether it is infected or not. The earlier you notice its issue and the earlier you take measures for the bonsai, the longer the tree will survive. 

Canker Disease: 

One of the most common symptoms of this infection is fading colour on the foliage, as well as defective growth. Another potential sign is indicated in the bump of the barks, and this issue usually occurs after pruning.


When you see these symptoms, especially just after you prune your bonsai, the first thing you should do is to isolate the tree, cut out the affected area, and use a wound paste over it.

Chinese elm bonsai is very easy to care for but because of this many just ignore the bonsai and focus on the ones that are known for being heavy maintenance. A little care and affection towards your bonsai will make your tree long-lasting. You just have to fulfil their basic needs, that’s it, your bonsai will grow with you. 

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