Help with Chinese Elm

BenM04

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Hi everyone, I'm new to this forum and new to owning a bonsai and I hoped you could help with my Chinese Elm.

I was given this Chinese Elm at Christmas last year (https://www.bonsaidirect.co.uk/product/chinese-elm-indoor-bonsai-idce8/). It was doing really well, with healthy leaves and sustained growth until about a week or so ago. Since this time the majority of leaves have fallen off and barely any new leaves have grown. I am quite worried as I'm not sure what has gone wrong.

The tree is on a small window sill that gets a good amount of light, and some direct sunlight, although not all day. I used to water it every day and use fertiliser every 1/2 weeks. As it was growing so well I also trimmed it back every few weeks. I am in the UK (London) and we have had some very hot weather recently and so I'm wondering whether I over watered it as I was worried about it drying out. Or perhaps I over-trimmed it and it got stressed.

I set out below some photos. I would be really grateful for any pointers or help you can provide. Happy to post more photos if this would help.

Thank you very much!

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StarGazer

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I've experience leaf loss in Chinese elm on a hot summer in which I couldn't water the tree while I was away for a weekend, it eventually recovered.

Maybe you are over fertilizing? Over fertilizing in a hot summer can contribute to water loss.

If you think you are overwatering, make sure you look at the soil before you water, if it is still very wet you don't need to water again.
 

Shibui

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Being inside the house will not help the tree. Chinese elms are not indoor plants and rarely live for long when kept inside.
Leaf drop can also be caused by both under watering causing dehydration and over watering causing roots to rot and then the tree dies from dehydration because it does not ave roots to take up water. Without seeing the soil and roots up close it is hard to determine the exact cause but you should be able to figure out what is happening there.
Soil should be allowed to get almost dry before watering really well to thoroughly soak the entire root ball. How often to water depends so much on time of year, where the tree is and the soil.

Another possible cause could be sunburn from hot sun through the window.
 

BenM04

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Thank you both.

Sorry for my naivety, but I had understood this to be an indoor Chinese Elm? Is the point that ideally they should always be outside?

On the watering point, thinking about it further, I haven’t watered it for around 4 days now and the soil isn’t dry to the touch. Seeing as it’s been well over 30C in London I would think this shows over watering is probably the issue as surely it would have dried out by now.
 

Clorgan

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Thank you both.

Sorry for my naivety, but I had understood this to be an indoor Chinese Elm? Is the point that ideally they should always be outside?

On the watering point, thinking about it further, I haven’t watered it for around 4 days now and the soil isn’t dry to the touch. Seeing as it’s been well over 30C in London I would think this shows over watering is probably the issue as surely it would have dried out by now.

Hi there and welcome! 😊

I'm relatively new too, but been around long enough to know that they really need to be outside. I have one and it loves as much sun as it can get in my garden. I don't think it's impossible to keep them inside, but very difficult! Unfortunately this species seems to be sold by many as an indoor plant, when really it is not.

Have you an outside space for it? It would really love you for it!
 

Bnana

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It is a species that can handle a lot so it can very well recover. It looks like it is in a clay like soil. That easily becomes airless when wet and than the roots do not get enough oxygen.
Don't let it dry completely but do not make it too wet either. Repot it in better soil in spring.
If possible place it outside but be careful with too much sun and wind now as it probably doesn't have a lot of functional roots.
 

Benauber

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These elms are sold as indoor bonsai, meaning they can make it inside (As supposed to some species that simply can’t) if you have no other choice, but should really be outside
If you have never repotted the tree, I bet it is not attached to the pot. Take the tree out and look at the roots, maybe send a picture
 

BenM04

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Thanks everyone for your help.

The only outside space I have is a small balcony that gets quite windy so I would been a little hesitant to put it out there. I’ll try to take a look at the roots and post a picture.
 

BenM04

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Good news! It is definitely alive. Just took a while to start growing back :)

F6D86EE2-AEB1-4E75-AF69-D041941AB333.jpeg
 

Mycin

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Thanks everyone for your help.

The only outside space I have is a small balcony that gets quite windy so I would been a little hesitant to put it out there. I’ll try to take a look at the roots and post a picture.

You're doing your tree a disservice by keeping it indoors. It may survive, but it'll never thrive. Keep it outdoors, secure the pot somehow if need be. Let the tree regrow its leaves and regain its vigor. Bring it inside for a few hours to enjoy it, but keep it outside as much as you can.

If you had no balcony a grow light may be a serviceable option, but the sun and the elements are superior and best of all, they are free. Just my suggestion, best of luck with your tree no matter what you choose to do.
 

sorce

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Welcome to Crazy!

No Air conditioning?

Nice.

Sorce
 

Mycin

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Just to reinforce my point, here's a similar mallsai chinese elm I have. A few weeks after pruning and look how it exploded with new growth (the light colored leaves). My elm is older and potted in a better soil, but there's no reason you can't have similar leaf growth. And I have maybe 4-5 hours of direct sunlight a day on my north facing balcony, so it's far from optimal conditions.

Your tree has decent branching, so there's no reason you shouldn't be able to get a thick canopy as well.
 

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