joppa007
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Location: Stoke-On-Trent, UK

First time Chinese Elm Bonsai owner needs advice

I have just been bought a Chinese Elm as a present, yesterday in fact!. At the moment it's looking healthy and green, with a few new shoots.
I'm keeping it in the window with good daylight and is not too cold. I have picked up some info on watering from various sources which is helpful.
One question I have is, "How do I know if it needs repotting and when do I do it?"
Also, I was given a drip feeder, which should be placed in the soil and lasts 15 days, is this needed, and how often?
Any advice would be very much appreciated
Thanks
Justyn Peake

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Justyn,
"How do I know if it needs repotting and when do I do it?"
Grasp the trunk and wiggle it a bit. Is the tree well established in the pot or a little on the loose side? If it is well established it would be an indicator that a re-potting may be due. Look under the pot at the drainage hole/s for evidence of roots. Roots growing from the hole/s indicate an established plant. While you are down there look for any wires that may be securing the tree.

Sometimes a tree will actually force itself up out of the pot as the roots fill the pot but you will not be able to easily judge this since you just received it. If you can remove the tree from the pot and have the root ball remain intact you can examine the roots. In fact if it does remain intact that is another indicator that the time for a re-pot is approaching. Take all of these possibilities into consideration.

In your climate there are two good time to re-pot a Chinese Elm. One is in Spring just prior to bud break on a dormant tree. Some prefer to keep this species as an evergreen and if you prefer this another option is to allow a brief rest period during the fall and early winter and re-pot before bringing it inside. I prefer the former scenario. Do you intend to keep it as an outdoor tree?
Also, I was given a drip feeder, which should be placed in the soil and lasts 15 days, is this needed, and how often?
I am not familiar with this device. Your tree will need to be fertilized regularly throughout the growing season but I am doubtful about anything that takes control away from me.

Norm

joppa007
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Cheers for the reply Norm!

As you can see from the pics, the trunk which I am holding is loose as I 'wiggled' it, the other two quite firm. It also seems rather raised compared to the others.

Can I trim back the new green shoots which have appeared?
I intend to keep it, primarily, as an indoor tree, but will give it periods outside in warmer weather.
I can only see a couple of roots through the one drain hole.
Cheers again
Justyn
[img]https://i163.photobucket.com/albums/t287/joppa007/ABCD0006.jpg[/img]

[img]https://i163.photobucket.com/albums/t287/joppa007/ABCD0005.jpg[/img]

[img]https://i163.photobucket.com/albums/t287/joppa007/ABCD0004.jpg[/img]

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joppa007,

I did not realize that we were talking about a group planting, this changes things slightly. I like your trees individually but I am not so sure about these particular trees as a group planting. Often forests (groupings) are composed of thinner more delicate trees, at least relative to each other. Usually forests are composed of tree of the informal upright style, while yours are more suited to the broom style. If these were my trees I would be tempted to separate them at the next re-pot. This is a stylistic decision not a cultural one.
Forest:
[img]https://www.artofbonsai.org/galleries/images/bestof/contest_eddie_levinthol_candle_forest.jpg[/img]
Broom:
[img]https://www.shop.wsbonsai.com/images/bonsai/od/odb-002.jpg[/img]

Your planting is on the crowded side and they do appear to be lifting themselves from the pot. Taking those factors, and the fact that you say you can see roots emerging from the drainage holes, into consideration I would be inclined to re-pot at the earliest appropriate opportunity.

One thing I did not mention before, as I did not see the soil, is that the soil/medium appears to be rather dense and organic. You should take some time and read the sticky threads that are concerned with soils and re-potting. Bonsai soil is unlike conventional potting soil.

I would hold of pruning for now. Chinese elms respond well to the clip and grow method and new shoots are generally cut back to a few leaves once they extend to perhaps six inches. Let them grow out a little more and ensure that the trees are not in any distress.

Your trees should spend the summer outside if you are able to allow this, I assure you they will be much happier there. If you are serious about indoor culture begin some research into supplemental lighting.

Norm

constantstaticx3
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I've never seen a mallsai like that. I agree with norm. Instead of having one bonsai you will now have three that look to be well suited for the broom style.

Tom

joppa007
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Hi again.

After reading your reply(thanks) I am now more inclined to repot them. When would be the 'appropriate' time if I was to do this? Spring officailly starts here in 2 days.

If I was to keep them in a group,would I have to, or would you recommend repot? Would it do any harm to keep this species as a group?
I'm reading up soils etc after your advice, and will hopefully come to a decision of what soil type to use.

Sorry about all the beginner questions :lol: , just don't want rush into anything unnecessary

Justyn :wink:

constantstaticx3
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Honestly, it is not a good idea to repot when the trees are already growing. With this in mind, I've successfully repoted mine at a time similar to yours. I've even repoted it multiple times in one year when I was learning to use the proper soil. If it were mine I'd repot now but its up to you.

Tom

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