Elms and Zelcovas

Elm are another of those trees that will forgive you almost anything, will grow in a range of soils and are easy to obtain, with species native to most of the Northern hemispere.

Zelcova (Zelcova serrata) and Chinese Elm are the two species you are likely to come across on a suppliers benches, both excellent trees although the Chinese Elm is I feel not as hardy when there is frost about, but try what grows in your area as all Elms are capable of making good bonsai.

They are easy to propogate. The seed germinates readily should you wish to try growing them this way, however cuttings and layering are the best methods to increase your stock.

Elm's respond well to leaf trimming and on a vigourous tree this may be carried out twice in one season, but not every year.

The Chinese Elm (Ulmus parvifolia) Is a very easy tree to grow. Deciduous in temperate areas, it will retain its leaves in tropical and sub tropical regions. The Chinese elm is often wrongly sold as an indoor tree here in Europe and probably elseware. It has many cultivars such as:

Other species are:

Caucasian Elm (Zelkova carpinifolia) Slow growing tree with leaves about half the size of Japanese Zelkova.

English Elm (Ulmus procera). Will reach 30m. Once widespread throughout the UK, But decimated by Dutch Elm disease. Introduced to north eastern North America.

Rock Elm (Ulmus thomasii). In nature a tall tree (30m). Native to North America.

Siberian Elm (Ulmus pumila) A bushy tree with 5 to 7cm long oval leaves. A Very hardy tree, Native to Siberia, but often available in nurserys.

Wych Elm (Ulmus glabra) Can have the largest of all the Elm leaves, however they will reduce with training. Native to Europe and Western Asia.


Here in the UK, the Chinese Elm is often sold by chainstores such as 'Homebase' and 'B&Q' and the trees are kept in the store, rather than outside where they should be. This is either for security reasons, or a lack of understanding on the part of their staff, or that some of the species sold with the Elm are delicate, however this mistake is transferred to the buyer who assumes the trees should be kept indoors. Unless you understand this the Elm will suffer.


A Chinese Elm


Allen. C. Roffey 11:57 17/09/2008