Chinese Elm hasnt sprouted new leaves in over 2 months

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#1
Hello Everyone,

I wanted to see if there was anything I can do to save my first bonsai tree. Little history: When I got the tree back in Nov the leaves quickly fell off because of root rot which i did away with and re-plotted the bonsai in a new ~70% non-organic ~30% organic mixture soil with a humidity tray underneath the pot.

The apartment I live in is 72 degrees and feels dry. I dont know the exact humidity, but I dont turn the heat on, the apartment is just that warm. I have a humidified in the living room which seems to be helping the dryness. Outside where I live it is in the 20s.

Since December when I re-potted the tree it has not sprouted new leaves or any buds. The phloem is still green, which I know is good. However the ends of the branches look extremely dry, bark is splitting and the tree feels extremely dry as well even though the soil damp. I tried spraying water on the trunk and branches once a day but that didnt seem to work to counteract the dryness. I tried getting a heating lamp (keeping it at least 4 feet away to try and stop the heat from getting to the plant) to give the sun some light to trick it out of dormancy.

I want to know if the tree is dormant and I should wait it out till spring, put the tree in the window, put the tree in a smaller room with the humidifier to create and even more humid environment, or if it is a lost cause.

Thank you, Andrew
 

Bonsai Nut

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#2
Can you share your location?

Any way you can post a photo of your tree?

Elms dropping leaves in the winter may not be cause for alarm. Even in Southern California my elms outside drop their leaves for at least a couple months.
 

sorce

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#4
Looks Ok to me.

Like dormancy....

Though it may get confused if it's inside.

Welcome to Crazy!

Sorce
 

Bonsai Nut

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#5
I see nothing unusual.

I really could use your location. December can mean very different things depending upon where you live. Also, where is the tree located(?) You say you are keeping it in your house?
 
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#6
I live in Upstate NY and it has been an exceptionally crazy winter. Temps going from 15 to 55. The tree sits about 8 feet from the window on a shelf, and I do have the window open but the cold air does not reach as high as the tree is.
 

Cypress187

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#7
My elm's outside have more leaves (and also less fell off), they where outside the entire winter. But maybe they had more to begin with or are another sub-species. And also i repotted them in spring, and not in the winter.
 

M. Frary

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#8
Do the tips of the branches snap off easily?
The cambium layer is what you need to be checking. Just under the bark.
Also being inside and having been inside it should have leaves growing by now. It shouldn't know about dormancy.
I'm sorry but I think it's gone if not on its way out.
 

Bonsai Nut

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#9
Well December is normally not when you want to repot an elm, but they are such hardy plants that you can often get away with it. Are you 100% sure the leaves dropped because of root rot? Is it possible the leaves dropped because it was Fall and the tree was going into dormancy? If you got your tree in November from an outdoor nursery, it may have actually started the process of going dormant for the winter. You took it home, the leaves fell off, and you thought it was root rot.

Regardless, don't try to 'force' the tree out of dormancy. The keys here are (1) give it strong indirect lighting (2) keep the soil moist, but not saturated (3) keep it from freezing. Anything above freezing temps are fine. Then let the tree be a tree. Humidity is not that critical for elms (trust me, I keep them outdoors in Southern California in desert-like conditions). It would be more critical if it had foliage, but right now the tree is dormant and doesn't need a lot of anything - water, light, or heat. Don't overdo anything - don't do any repotting, or trimming. Wait until it buds.
 
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#11
Do the tips of the branches snap off easily?
The cambium layer is what you need to be checking. Just under the bark.
Also being inside and having been inside it should have leaves growing by now. It shouldn't know about dormancy.
I'm sorry but I think it's gone if not on its way out.
The branches do not snap off easily, they are however splitting, where the bark is separating from the core (I can get a picture soon). I have not trimmed the tree at all expect to cut a small branch to check the phloem. The phloem is still green under the bark of both the trunk and the branches.

I did have it sitting by the window for a while when i got it in Nov/Dec and moved it inside once I fixed the root rot issue.

Well December is normally not when you want to repot an elm, but they are such hardy plants that you can often get away with it. Are you 100% sure the leaves dropped because of root rot? Is it possible the leaves dropped because it was Fall and the tree was going into dormancy? If you got your tree in November from an outdoor nursery, it may have actually started the process of going dormant for the winter. You took it home, the leaves fell off, and you thought it was root rot.

Regardless, don't try to 'force' the tree out of dormancy. The keys here are (1) give it strong indirect lighting (2) keep the soil moist, but not saturated (3) keep it from freezing. Anything above freezing temps are fine. Then let the tree be a tree. Humidity is not that critical for elms (trust me, I keep them outdoors in Southern California in desert-like conditions). It would be more critical if it had foliage, but right now the tree is dormant and doesn't need a lot of anything - water, light, or heat. Don't overdo anything - don't do any repotting, or trimming. Wait until it buds.
you could be right. I have no real way of knowing it was root rot or dormancy of the tree from shipping. I only noticed the root rot once the leaves feel off because the leaves turned gray almost. So i thought something was wrong, searched around in the dirt a little without uprooting the whole plant and noticed the root rot. Took the tree out, cleaning off all the root rot, replanted and have had it on the shelf since then.
 
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#12
scratch the bark and see if there is any green under the bark...if you don't see green try a different spot...no green at all and it could be dead!
 
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#15
A Chinese Elm going dormant indoors is not something I've heard of. There shouldn't be temperature changes to throw the tree into dormancy. My first thought when I saw those pictures were that it's gone.
 
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#16
A Chinese Elm going dormant indoors is not something I've heard of. There shouldn't be temperature changes to throw the tree into dormancy. My first thought when I saw those pictures were that it's gone.
Even if it sat by an open window for a few weeks with temperatures dropping below freezing?
 
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#17
Even if it sat by an open window for a few weeks with temperatures dropping below freezing?
Even if it were outside with temperatures below freezing--at least if the temperatures are above 15-20 F. Mine stay outside with lows around 10 F with some protection but no heating. Your description of bark splitting and pulling away from the core suggests those twigs, at least, are quite dead. I bet you don't see any green in the cambium there! Even so, may as well wait for Spring, get the tree outside if you can, and see what happens.

By the way, how do you achieve a temperature of 72 in your apartment with NO heating when the temperature is in the twenties outside? Heat is coming from somewhere!

Oliver
 

rockm

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#18
A Chinese Elm going dormant indoors is not something I've heard of. There shouldn't be temperature changes to throw the tree into dormancy. My first thought when I saw those pictures were that it's gone.
I'd have to agree with Ryan. Tree looks like it's on its way out to me, from the color of the trunk.
Sudden leaf drop and gray colored leaves are signs of some kind of shock, or a bad situation with soil/water...
BTW, Temperature has almost nothing to do with inducing dormancy. It has everything to do with shocking a tree. Windowsills are very bad places in the winter. Hot on one side, possibly freezing on the other if there's a constant draft...
 
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#19
Even if it were outside with temperatures below freezing--at least if the temperatures are above 15-20 F. Mine stay outside with lows around 10 F with some protection but no heating. Your description of bark splitting and pulling away from the core suggests those twigs, at least, are quite dead. I bet you don't see any green in the cambium there! Even so, may as well wait for Spring, get the tree outside if you can, and see what happens.

By the way, how do you achieve a temperature of 72 in your apartment with NO heating when the temperature is in the twenties outside? Heat is coming from somewhere!

Oliver
The heat is most likely coming from the apartment below mine because I have not turned my heat on once this year.

I'd have to agree with Ryan. Tree looks like it's on its way out to me, from the color of the trunk.
Sudden leaf drop and gray colored leaves are signs of some kind of shock, or a bad situation with soil/water...
BTW, Temperature has almost nothing to do with inducing dormancy. It has everything to do with shocking a tree. Windowsills are very bad places in the winter. Hot on one side, possibly freezing on the other if there's a constant draft...
I agree with you on the tree being shocked, with the root rot, changing of the soil, temperature change on the windowsill all within such a short period. Just wondering if the keeping in a much more stable environment has a chance of being it back after all that.
 

JudyB

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#20
has a chance of being it back after all that.
If it were anything other than an elm, probably not. But an elm may surprise you. It may loose some branches and look quite different if it does come back.

Andrew, welcome to the forum. If you go to your profile page you can put your location there, and it will show up under your name, so people won't have to ask you. Advice is very climate oriented...
 
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