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Joined: Sun Aug 01, 2010 4:30 am
Location: new york

chinese elm

I bought a chinese elm approx. 6 months ago. the vendor claims it was 18 yrs. old. It seemed fine for a while. I live in N.Y. and have kept the tree indoors. the temp average 78F. there is humidity. I never let the tree go totally dry. I have an spot light bulb on 10 hrs. daily. My ficus enjoys the source which is about 1300 lumens. About 1.5 months ago my elms leaves started to turn brown around the edges & wilt and began to drop of rapidly. the tree has been barren for awhile. During that time before trouble began. I fertilized by directions a product Green Dream 6:6:6 organic slow release pellets. I did the same for the ficus with no ill affects. Now my elm looks like an old dead tree. I still keep the soil moist and don't over water. I continue to mist it 2-3 times daily. What I find strange 1- After I mist it the brown bark displays a green sheen. 2- the branches are still pliable and will not snap if you attempt to break them. Does any one know what's happening ? Cure? I'm I attempting to convert an outdoor tree to an indoor. I have sourced different media and it seems there are different opinions about/indoor/outdoor in i.e. this elm. thanks, Jim Wilson
jim wilson

Full Member
Posts: 15
Joined: Thu Jul 29, 2010 11:18 pm
Location: Los Angeles, CA

Hate to say this but it sounds like it took 6 months for your elm to die. Cut a small branch and see if its green inside. If yes try putting the tree outside even on a window sill if necessary.

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Posts: 5122
Joined: Wed Jul 05, 2006 4:17 am
Location: Western PA USDA Zone 6A


Even though you mention that the humidity is not low, it probably is lower than the tree would like. That's one of the major pitfalls of keeping bonsai in our homes.

What type of light are you using? It sounds like it is an incandescent bulb which is known to produce a lot of heat. Fluorescents are a much better choice, you can get them closer to the plant without the issue of heat.

Chinese Elm is not the best choice for indoor growers, not as bad as Juniper but, as you are finding out, not as adaptable as your Ficus. I keep mine outside all summer and usually allow a full dormancy over the winter. Last year, for the first time, I brought one inisde around Christmas after a brief dormancy and kept it under fluorescents. In the spring it went back outside with the others and is doing well now.


Senior Member
Posts: 122
Joined: Tue Jan 26, 2010 1:56 am
Location: Marin County, CA


To be honest, the tree is going to die if you leave it inside, the light is probably only making it worse. The ficus is an indoor plant and that is the reason it is doing great, however the elm is a completely different story. 78* is WAY too hot overnight. Try taking the elm outside and putting it in partial shade and watering once or twice a day, but only in the early morning or late afternoon to night time. If you can take a picture I can further assess the situation. I hope this helps!

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