Chaines1991
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Question about caring for Chinese elm.

Hello. :D

I am a new bonsai owner. This Christmas I received a Chinese Elm as a gift (apparently this is a good tree for beginners?) I decided to purchase a guide book to help me but I'm still not sure I'm doing things right. At first I didn't know how to water it properly so I let it dry out by mistake since then I've been watering as and when the soil feels a bit dry but when I did this I would get a layer of mould form on top of the soil. After reading the book and several posts on the forum I decided to repot the tree this week. First I covered the drainage hole with some mesh, I then used a thin layer of vermiculite followed by a layer of bonsai soil. I also started using a rose head to water the bonsai. Since then I have been watching closely I noticed excess water draining from the bottom the day after watering and reporting but not since. I've also noticed a small layer of mould on one of the lower trunks which I have been brushing off as needed.

As I said I am very new to this , I would love any advice, hints or tips it would be most appreciated
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Gnome
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Re: Question about caring for Chinese elm.

Chaines1991,

Hello and welcome. What did it look like when you purchased it? Much better I suppose. If it dried for very long that likely began the leaf drop. How do you decide when to water, by the condition of the surface or deeper down? It's water requirements will be much less considering the lack of foliage.
Another method is to insert a kitchen skewer or chopstick to the bottom of the pot and leave it there. Take it out daily to check it; if the skewer has soil stuck to it don't water. Touch the wood to your cheek or underside of your wrist, if it is damp there is no need to water.
The soil you chose appears to be predominately organic, which is not ideal. But don't consider another re-pot now.

Are you able/willing to keep it outside during the appropriate season? It's not an easy thing to keep most trees indoors especially without supplemental lighting.

Chaines1991
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Re: Question about caring for Chinese elm.

Gnome.

Thank you for getting back to me, when I received it as a gift on Christmas Day it looked much healthier there were more leaves and they had a more waxy coating to them , where as now they have a more dried texture.

Initially I used to water as and when the soil surface felt dry, but since reading more of my book plus several posts on this forum I've now started watering only when the soil is dry deeper down by using the chopstick method.

Ordinarily I would have done my research more thoroughly and well before purchasing but as it was a gift it was a complete surprise :(

In regards to the soil I chose a bonsai soil from my local garden centre I will include a picture to illustrate this. Unfortunately I live in a second floor flat and have no outside area of which to speak of where I could place the tree otherwise I would be more than willing.

Thanks for your help so far :D

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Re: Question about caring for Chinese elm.

Chaines1991,

Keeping most trees indoors is not an easy task. Our homes are generally too warm, too dry and too dim. What is your lighting situation like? If it's in a window, which direction does it face? Are you interested enough to supply supplemental lighting?

Chaines1991
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Re: Question about caring for Chinese elm.

Gnome.

Initially I kept the tree by a north facing window , but not on the window sill because of the drop in temperatures at night. After doing some more reading I have decided to move the tree to a south facing window for maximum light , I then remove it from the window sill when the temperatures drop at night. I regards to supplemental lighting I am more than willing/interested in any lighting or advice you can give me as I do want to keep this tree successfuly.

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Re: Question about caring for Chinese elm.

Chaines1991,

Chinese Elms will not be harmed by cool nighttime temps so, IMO, moving it about is unnecessary. I think there is a lighting thread in our learning library. For now though, any CFL or LED certainly would help. Locate the light as close to the plant as possible without heat issues.

Chaines1991
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Re: Question about caring for Chinese elm.

Gnome.

Thanks for the reply I will check out the lighting forum a.s.a.p In the meantime would you reccomend full spectrum light ?

Yesterday i telephoned the bonsai nursery which the elm was purchased from , they informed me to make a very slight scratch on the bark to assertain if the tree is still alive and to check for any new root growth. I wasn't able to find any signs of new growth as of yet but based on their instructions I was able to assertain that the tree is still alive.

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Re: Question about caring for Chinese elm.

Chaines1991,

If there is green tissue under the bark then there is still hope. Monitor the soil via the chopstick method. You will probably be surprised at how long it will go without requiring water.

I don't grow inside full time, as such I only use fluorescents, so I am not the best person to recommend lighting. You did not respond to my query regarding the possibility of growing outdoors. If you intend to try this as a full time indoor endeavor serious lighting will really help this tree and any future attempts.

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