Chinese Elm Bonsai Progression (2020 – Now)

This is my Chinese Elm Bonsai that I bought online I am trying to grow as bonsai and I will be going through its progression below.

If you want to watch it in video format, you can watch the YouTube playlist below. The videos show the progression every month throughout the year, sort of like a time lapse.

Just be aware some of my earlier videos are not the best quality, but just like my trees, the quality slowly improves over time, so stick with them and they both get a little better towards the end.

The Chinese elms (Ulmus parvifolia ) is a small deciduous tree that is extremely tough and fast growing. It is very popular as a bonsai and is probably one of the most commonly owned bonsai trees. You can read more about their suitability in Are Chinese Elms Good Trees For Bonsai?


In the spring of 2020 I bought a Chinese elm online for like £15.

(You can read about Buying A Chinese Elm Bonsai On Amazon)

Spring 2020

The tree arrived well packaged, but it was in full leaf. It looks nice, but branch structure is actually terrible. There are branches in every direction and from afar the tree looks good, but on closer inspection its structure is awful.

More importantly, the soil it is in is also awful. I repotted the tree right away. This is why I bought it in spring, so I could do this. If I had bought it another point in the year i would have had to wait to spring.

Spring 2020

After it was repotted it was just left to grow wild for the rest of the year.

Summer 2020


Early 2021

In 2021 I pruned the tree back very hard in late winter. As I already mentioned the branch structure was awful, so I pretty much removed it all.

Early 2021
Spring 2021

I didn’t repot the tree, but it was left to grow out all season.  

Summer 2021
Late 2021


At the start of 2022 I just left the tree to shoot out in spring and I didn’t repot it. It looks very overgrown and like I’ve lost sight of the tree being a bonsai.

Early 2022
Spring 2022

and this is where we are now with this tree.

My plan is to air layer the top off and then remove the ugly roots, so I want as much growth and vigour in the tree, which is why it is so over grown. Also those long branches will be adding thickness to the branches, so when I cut them back they will look more in proportion than before.

If you also have a Chinese elm and are wondering how I look after it, you can read my Chinese Elm Bonsai Care Guide.