Full defoliation timing (Chinese Elm)

Yo Mango

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I have a Chinese Elm, in South Florida (10b climate zone), where there is hardly ever enough cold temps to allow my tree to drop leaves substantially. I notice all through spring and summer it doesn’t throw much of anything out as far as new growth, very little. It seems it drops more leaves than it replaces.. In all, it struggles along all year long without major activity.

I read somewhere that for these hot climate zones, a full defoliation is recommended if climate doesn’t assist naturally. With 10b climate in mind specifically, is this true and would this be advisable? If so, what time(s) of the year? Thanks.
 

Shibui

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If Chinese elms don't drop leaves in winter they usually all drop as the new leaves start to grow in spring. They seem to do quite OK in warmer areas so I agree that there may be something else causing the problem.
 

Yo Mango

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Shibui

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Location looks OK with enough sunlight but I would be turning the tree every week or 2 as plants grown next to a solid fence don't get enough sun at the rear so back branches get weaker and die.
The tree actually looks reasonably healthy. Not much new growth for spring though so there could be an underlying problem.

What about fertilizer" How often? what sort?
Watering can be critical for trees in small pots. How often in summer? Tap water or Rain water?
Soil?
 

Yo Mango

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Thanks. I turn it every two weeks. Thanks for the confidence in health. I did spray some fungicide a few times earlier in the week, leaves look a little better now. Fertilizer are granules just under the top soil, I do that with a low dose 4-3-2 in March, then up to a 6-4-3 in May, then August. In between every 2-3 weeks I do a fish-grade liquid mix 3-2-1. Soil is coarse lava on bottom, medium mixed rocks/harden clay with pine bark in middle, topped with akadama for looks mainly. Drains really well. Here in South Florida, I water 4x/week spring/summer, 2-3 in fall/winter. South Florida hasn’t seen rain much so far this year. Unusual, maybe it’s that. Water is tap that I do
 

Shibui

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Fertilizer sounds adequate - some new growers don't realize that bonsai need feeding.
Soil mix sounds interesting but hard to visualize as my definition of 'medium' and 'large' could be very different to yours.
Watering depends very much on the soil and local weather but in summer I have to water my bonsai every morning and every night just to keep them alive. 4 times per week in summer does not sound like much water, especially if your soil drains really well, but maybe Florida humidity can make up for that?
I just asked about tap water as some places have alkaline tap water which can have an impact on plants but I have not heard of Chinese elm being affected.
 

Yo Mango

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Fertilizer sounds adequate - some new growers don't realize that bonsai need feeding.
Soil mix sounds interesting but hard to visualize as my definition of 'medium' and 'large' could be very different to yours.
Watering depends very much on the soil and local weather but in summer I have to water my bonsai every morning and every night just to keep them alive. 4 times per week in summer does not sound like much water, especially if your soil drains really well, but maybe Florida humidity can make up for that?
I just asked about tap water as some places have alkaline tap water which can have an impact on plants but I have not heard of Chinese elm being affected.
Thank you! Helpful. I’ll study if the watering needs a little more frequency. Florida has been unusually dry this season.
 

JudyB

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How long have you had this tree? Also did you repot it recently? Doesn't seem terribly unhealthy, but neither is it growing as a elm should.
 

Tieball

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I’ve not had good luck or success growing Chinese Elms. I solved that and stopped trying. In some climates they seem perfect. In my climate they rejected growing. Failure to launch. The tree can be fickle about where and when it grows.

I think.....and it’s just my opinion....that many of the Chinese Elms are beginning the death walk about the time a purchase is made. It’s a lack of proper care along the way to the sale. It’s just a matter of time.
 

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