Bonsai

Deciduous Bonsai- Zelkova Bonsai (Japanese Gray Bark Elm)

Zelkova Serrata, the Japanese Elm, or Japanese Gray Bark Elm, is part of a genus of six species native to Europe and Asia. Zelkova Carpinfolia, the Caucasus Elm, is also used for bonsai. Both species are extensively farmed and grown for nursery use. They have hard wood, which is used for furniture making, but the bonsai community does not carve deadwood on these trees. Zelkova Serrata and Zelkova Carpinfolia are both popular with architects as ornamental trees, and can be found in landscape nurseries.
Most online bonsai suppliers do not carry these trees, as they are not considered beginner trees. Unlike the Chinese Elm, they do not grow fast enough to be mass produced as bonsai. They are also not common enough as a landscape tree to find their way to your typical “big box” store. If you want a Zelkova, you will have to go to an established bonsai nursery, or find a large landscape nursery that has five or ten gallon specimens. They can be reproduced from seeds, cuttings or layering. In making a broom style tree, the Japanese prefer to air layer a section of trunk in order to induce radial root structure.
If you get a large one, pot it in a training pot, chop it back or air layer off the top, and when the new growth sprouts, start styling. This is an Elm, and while a trunk chop in early spring will not induce the profusion of growth you would see on a Chinese Elm, you will still have plenty of new shoots to work with. If you get a small one, do not overpot it. Start it in an appropriate size training pot, and gradually repot it into larger pots until it reaches the desired size – or put it in a growing bed in the ground for a few years

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