Help!! My Chinese Elm!!!

EB26

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Hello all! First, I just want to say thanks in advance for anyone who takes the time to help me here.

I am extremely new to Bonsai trees. I was very interested in caring for one, so for Christmas, I received a Chinese Elm from my girlfriend. However...we are a bit concerned...

So, I received a Chinese Elm for Christmas (about 5 weeks ago). When my girlfriend received the Elm to give to me, it was pretty bare. It did have some leaves on it, but not many. Also, the leaves seemed very dry and would crumble off the tree to the touch.

Now, 5 weeks later...not much has changed. Although, a few weeks into caring for my new Bonsai...it did start to sprout new green growths. Both long green extensions and new little leaves (which have all stopped growing). Besides this one growth spurt, there have been no new leaves or signs of life. Also, a shiny, wet look has taken over parts of the bark which was not there when I first received the tree.

Is it normal for my tree to be almost entirely bare? Is it normal for all of the leaves to be dry and crumble off of the tree? Will it come to life in the Spring or did I receive a sick/dying tree?

As I said, it was like this since we first received it. I assumed since there was the one tiny growth spurt that things are going ok but I just really have no clue.

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Cypress187

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Welcome to the forum, i think overwatering perhaps or a shock in temperature, but i could be wrong because i'm also pretty new to all this. I hope he makes it. Maybe remove the dead leaves on the soil, they will decompose and make the soil less drainy.
 

Ironbeaver

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Most likely, your tree is dead. It is the nature of that side of the bonsai industry. Scratch the bark, if you see green then it is still somewhat alive, if not...
I will let others chime in about how elms are not indoor trees, and how it may be saved if still alive, but it was probably half dead when your girlfriend bought it. Google or search the term "mallsai" for all the info you need.

It's not your fault. Try again after doing some reading.
 

sorce

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Yup....
It seems ok enough to do some research and get it back on track!

Welcome to Crazy EB26!

Sorce
 

EB26

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Thank you everyone for your responses! It is greatly appreciated!!

So, first of all...I live in Central, NJ. I am not sure where the tree was shipped from, or the conditions it was being kept in or for how long, before it was given to me as a gift. However, I was told that the tree looked barren (as it does now) on arrival. Perhaps, while the tree was waiting to be given to me as a gift...it did not get adequate sunlight/water and now I am trying to nurse it back to health?

The tree is kept in my bedroom. It sits in the window/sun during the day and I move it to a more stable shelf when the sun goes down. As far as watering, I am on a system where I stick my finger into the soil to feel for wetness. When it feels dry, I water the tree (this method is based off of research. I hope it is not incorrect as it is what I'm being told from most bonsai care sites). I do not water if I feel the soil is still wet.

What confuses me is, although it seemed barren since the day it arrived...a few weeks after receiving the tree...it started to grow new greenery. This must be a good sign, no? I had heard of the "see if it's green under the bark" test and when I tried, it was green. However, I just gave a little nick to the bark and am having a harder time locating as much green as I did the first time. I am also reading that Chinese Elm will lose their leaves/growth during the dormant seasons...so maybe this is normal?

I don't know! As you can tell, I'm not sure what to think!!

Thank you all so much for taking your time to help me. It is truly appreciated.
 

Redwood Ryan

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This is certainly not normal. An indoor Chinese Elm should not need to drop its leaves. This tree needs heat and bright light to come back into leaf. Don't overwater the tree, it doesn't need as much water when it's leafless.
 

Geo

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As to watering. Stop giving trees the finger.Get a chopstick,or a shishkebab skewer(wooden and unvarnished) and stick it down into the bottom of the pot about half way between the trunk and the edge of the pot.Pull it out on a daily basis and check if the chopstick is wet.Water according to the results.As @Redwood Ryan says watch the water when there are no leaves on the tree.Do this for all trees that you may have in the future.Indoor growing is tricky and works only(generally) with tropical species.I have no idea what will happen with the elm.What substrate is it potted in?What is the direction of the light source?How many hours of sun does it get?You may need to investigate artificial light.
Please put your location in your profile.No one will remember it from one post.
Many people receive a well meant gift and the tree dies.That is either the end of the hobby for them or the beginning.Do not be overly discouraged.Keep learning the basics and try for some trees that do well in your area-outside.Or get ready to study the indoor scene-or both.At any rate.Good luck and welcome to BNut.
 
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Bonsaiguy_2012

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I live in Hawaii and have several Chinese elms. My experience with this style of elm is that it probably is an import an are widely sold in stores yo make quick money hence the term mallsai. My leaves never fall off but do turn very brittle due to our sunlight. I am not advocating either of these products but I have had a couple elms that just wouldn't bud out in spring as they should. Normally once I defoliate I can almost bet 10 days down the road the will start to bud. Anyway with these two elm I use HB101 and buds popedwuthin a few weeks I have also had good success with Supperthrive I buy the stuff by the gallon. If it does die don't give up just buy another from a good source. Good luck
 

sorce

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@Anthony has the best information about "The Truth About the Chinese Elm"

No one thinks it's OK to keep a Juniper inside, but somehow we are stuck believing what the "bonsai man in the van" says about this tree.....as if he truly does have Godlike power to create an indoor bonsai.

Chinese Elms go Dormant.
Now it is growing inside.

Bugs, lack of light, and general non-outdoor conditions make that shitty growth.

I would deal with them in that order. Because it will die of you put it outside now.

Sorce
 

Woodland Spirit

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This sounds painfully familiar.

A makeshift hotbox may help. You can get the tree outside and let the air flow and sunlight do their thing. Just be sure to close it up when it gets to cold. And keep a heater on if it might freeze. As long as it's not dormant it's not freeze proof.
I'm a newb. Please take the advice of the more experienced if it is contrary to what I have told you.
 

petegreg

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Hi, I will try to add sth more...
These plants are usually kept indoors in the shops. Their origin? Northern or Southern China? First thing was the transport when it was cold outside...
These plants like Ch. elm, serissa, sageretia etc. tend to drop their foliage if conditions are changed dramatically - temperature, humidity, light, position. If adjusted, they will continue prospering.
I've checked the pictures for the bugs up to the point of their resolution. Found nothing wrong. But remember spider mites love elms, keep the prevention in mind.
Sooo, the tree should have stable and well lit position now. Window sill is good place but make sure there is not a heater right under the tree. You know, legs in the cold and head in warm dry air...
I live in zone 5/6? I treat them like subtropicals, keeping 'em in a light cold room with temps 2-10℃ (sorry for units) over winter. They go dormant, some drop some leaves, some get bold... When the indoor temps go higher than 12-15℃ they start sprouting in the spring. In accordance with my observation it's best to keep then indoor till temps outside are stable higher than 10-15 ℃. Then some are placed outside and some inside on a E-facing window for all the season...
Next winter, U can make a decision to keep them outside / inside in cold environment. But I am not to brave enough to let them freeze. Some of my friends keep them outside but I think up to the point when it gets too cold suddenly and their hardiness is broken once.
 
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Anthony

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We know that the Serissa can withstand zone 7 outdoors, due to the efforts of Carl Rosner, an old IBCer.
That the sageretia in China grows outdoors in zone 7 as hedges, and up to 30' high.
Not sure how cold hardy the Chinese elm is but if you grow in a zone 7, in a bonsai pot outdoors, you should
drop the zone by 1 - so they go to zone 8.

Additionally, on my side with steady 69 deg.F from 10 p.m to around 8 a.m. growth slows or stops.
Please note - TROPICS - and no chance of frost.

From what we have observed, the Sageretias that are born down here prefer sun from 6.00 a.m. to 1.00 p.m
Will be testing for 6.00 a.m to 6.00 p.m.

It is obvious that we are being scammed, these Chinese exports are not low light indoor plants.

The various Serissa types, enjoy full sun as do the Chinese elms and obviously have to rest for about 2 to 3 months.

I figure many die, because they are not allowed to rest, death occurring after x years. Much like trying to grow a
Maple for over 4 to 6 years with no rest period.
The plant just dies and one assumes, too much watering or bugs etc
AND you go back and $$$ buy another mallsai [ malsai - mal means bad as in mal educato ]

Down with Mallsai!!

Good Day
Anthony
 

petegreg

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Yes and it's sad that different online resources, care sheets and how tos and books are diametrically different in their recommendations. Especially USDA hardiness zones. Try to compare them.

I've got 1 CHE from late air layer donein last fall and devided from mother plant on the 6th of Dec. It had to spend all the winter inside, under artificial lights with figs. Doing well so far, but will follow the others next winter.
 

M. Frary

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Also the rough bark type elms are more cold hardy.
I keep chinese elms outside here. Lost a couple last year because they froze too.

their hardiness is broken
Their hardiness wasn't broken it was pushed past safe limits.
35 degrees below zero is a little extreme. But they saw minus 20 the year before.
Chinese elm trees are outdoor trees period.
 

petegreg

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Also the rough bark type elms are more cold hardy.
I keep chinese elms outside here. Lost a couple last year because they froze too.


Their hardiness wasn't broken it was pushed past safe limits.
35 degrees below zero is a little extreme. But they saw minus 20 the year before.
Chinese elm trees are outdoor trees period.
Yes sir, I can remember those temperature Xtremes from the news. That was right what I wanted to mention in my previous post (pushed past safe limits), not a native speaker. You wrote it correctly, thank you.
 

M. Frary

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Yes sir, I can remember those temperature Xtremes from the news. That was right what I wanted to mention in my previous post (pushed past safe limits), not a native speaker. You wrote it correctly, thank you.
I must say that a lot of you people that English is a second language use it better than a lot of us where it is our only language.
I knew what you were getting at.
 
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