Newly Registered
Posts: 1
Joined: Mon Sep 10, 2007 2:43 pm
Location: Italy, Milan

HELP! with my Chinese Elm

Hello Scott,

My partner has had his bonsai for about 3 years. It went through different periods of growth and then dormancy. We just got it into our new flat where the temp, is pretty cool and consistent. The bonsai is about 10inches long ( including the bends in the trunk) and has about 8 thin branches with 5 leaves each. In the past week the tree has lost quite a few leaves , the lower branches sport ( some) healthy shiny leaves, while the leaves towards the top are growing yellow and falling off!!! I moved the tree towards the window sill where it gets lots of indirect sunlight.... also the soil is moist. I am worried about "Benjamin" and am afraid he is dying... what should I do? By the way we live in Milan, Italy

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


Hello and welcome. From your description it sounds as if the foliage is very sparse. Your tree should have many more leaves than you note. With the information that I have it is almost a certainty that the tree is not getting sufficient sunlight, even near the window. I take it that growing outside is not an option for you. If you have the room and don't mind a little expense some supplemental lighting will go a long way toward rectifying this.

Fluorescent tubes are probably the best compromise, not as good as high intensity lighting but far superior to incandescents. I use 4 foot tubes on a simple timer to over-winter my tender trees.

Other than that, you may be over-watering it. Yellowing leaves can sometimes indicate this. Please read the "general tips" sticky located at the top of the forum for information on correct watering practices. Also take a look at the "soil" sticky as poor soil often leads to problems.

One other thing comes to mind, after owning the tree for three years I wonder if it has ever been fertilized. Trees in pots are completely dependent upon the grower for proper nutrition. Note that fertilizer is not a cure for a bad situation but only one component of a good one.


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