Chinese Elm Newbie... think I have a few problems

SeedlingMeg

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Hi all! I'm completely new to this hobby. I received a bonsai as a present in late august! From the information I've gathered it seems that it was ordered online but other than that I have no more context on where it came from. It's a Chinese Elm, that is (unconfirmed) 7 years old.
I'll just begin as I have a few problems that I'd love to hear some more experienced advice on! (I've attached a photo at the end for more context if needed!)

Currently I have my bonsai indoors, on a windowsill. I've read maybe this isn't the best spot? But my room is quite dark and the windowsill provides some light in the afternoon. I do have a small balcony outside my window, but I'm unsure if this would be okay as it's going to get quite cold over the winter and I've read that might be harmful! Let me know if I'm incorrect!

And how rapidly will my Chinese Elm shed its leaves in the winter? Should I be concerned at any point, and how will I know that it is healthy during this period?

My bonsai is quite compact in the soil, but very loose from the pot. There isn't any wiring keeping him in place- is this something I should worry about and something I could fix? I'm also a little concerned that the soil is too compact as when I water the bonsai, the water will often come straight into the dish below!
-Also in the soil there's little green leaves growing? Does anyone know why or what these are? And are they harmful to my bonsai, or helpful, or neutral?

Another issue I've had for the past month is an aphid infestation. I've tried getting rid of these via dish wash soap and wiping them off to no avail. I'm thinking of buying an insecticide online. Is this a good idea? Will it rid me of my aphids? Also, I did notice a rather long creature in my pot (haven't seen it since) that almost looked like a centipede?
I also had a small fungi problem, probably due to the soil being moist all the time. I dried my bonsai out for a few days and the fungi has gone away, however I'm not sure this is a lasting solution . I read it would be good to out some gravel or something on my soil, but due to the way my pot and bonsai is I don't think that would sit right. (photo for context below).

Basically I'm looking for some opinions on how to begin looking after my bonsai with a little knowledge. Up until now I have winged it or based it on google-searches but I don't think that's sustainable. Any advice is appreciated! And I'm very excited to be joining such a good community!
IMG_8093.jpg
 

leatherback

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Well.. Outside is better then inside.
Changing the soil may be required however, as the stuff they plant these in is typically not very friendly for the roots. That you can nt do now, you should wait till early spring, as the buds start to swell up.

For now, I would place it outside on your balcony and then as much out of the rain as possible (Do not let it dry out fully over winter though). Best spot outside is protected from wind and sun when it is freezing weather.

How cold does it get?
 

Shibui

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Chinese elm will love those temperatures. Mine live outside all year round with winter nights to -7C and summer gays up to 43C.
You may need to alter your watering when the tree is outside as it will often dry out quicker with wind and more sun.
Sometimes Chinese elm keep the leaves all winter. They only drop in colder areas. When the leaves drop there is not really any practical way of telling that the tree is still alive or healthy. You just need to trust and keep looking after it until spring and new growth. trees have been overwintering for far longer than humans have been here so they don't need us to worry about them.
I agree with Leatherback about leaving it in the current soil until spring then give it a good root prune and replace the soil with better potting mix suited to bonsai pots.
I can't make out the green leaves in the soil. I can think of a number of possibilities so a better shot of that might yield an answer.
Aphids can be persistent. Indoors probably suits them even better than outside. They are relatively easy to get rid of with fairly friendly pesticides - something like pyrethrum maybe. getting rid of them will help tree's health.
There are many fungi. Not all are bad. Many actually help the trees obtain nutrients. I think you are on the right track with keeping it slightly drier. You will probably see less problem with fungi when it is outside.
 

sorce

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Welcome to Crazy!

A good hosedown can rid you of aphids, if they are in fact aphids.
Centipedes are good.

The small leaves are weeds. Pull them.

If loose in the pot, I would simply use a fishtank type gravel on the top to hold things in place till you get it healthier.

Feel and note the weight of it after watering.
Then submerge it in water till it stops bubbling or longer, and note the weight again. If considerably heavier, regular watering isn't enough, you'll have to dunk water till health is regained enough to repot.

But beware, it won't need water as soon after a dunkin.

Sorce
 

Tieball

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Looks like you have a perfect wind-protection balcony area outside. Now would probably be a good time to get the tree outside as you’re just closing out on autumn but haven’t started the lower temperatures of winter yet. I would default to comments for other bonsai developers right in your area though. My winter experience and yours may be quite different.
 

Tieball

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I’ve never been a fan of the S-shaped Chinese Elms really. But I did receive one like you. I bought the attached book early on because it showed a different view, a very different handling of a curvaceous tree. The ideas, and full instructions, presented in the book focused around Chinese landscape themes. I attached a page with Lu Long The Green Dragon. I think Su Chin Ee did a fabulous job of creativity in the book. Artistically the book is creative excellence. The book fascinated me and gave me a new way to see S-curved trees very differently. So now....when I see an S-curve tree like yours I bend and look at the potential of the tree sideways as much more exciting. I see something very different. Something exciting the mind. But.....you have to listen to those locally around you to keep the tree alive first.39F370E8-998F-48B7-8F3A-C21D05E9035B.jpeg85F5BD55-242E-450D-8D66-0065F977FE5F.jpeg
 

sorce

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haven’t started the lower temperatures of winter yet.
Agreed. My elms didn't bat an eye at the 1-2 degrees C they recently experienced. This elm may have enough time to regain health this fall, since it is likely from a greenhouses environment where it is used to a late growing season.

Sorce
 

SeedlingMeg

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Hey guys! Thank you for all your advice. Apologies on the late reply- I moved the bonsai outside last week and as far as I can tell is doing great! I think i have just about sorted the pest problem so that's another plus!
-Over this winter I'll do some researching into re-potting and pruning so come Spring if my bonsai is all good I can repot! Hopefully it will regain strength yet.
Thanks again, this was extremely helpful. :)
 
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