Elm bonsai

Reproduction techniques

The reproduction of the bonsai elm can be done with three different methods, by seed, cutting or layering. By seed: it is a reproductive method that takes many years before having a bonsai plant, but it has the advantage of being able to shape the seedling immediately.By cuttings: it is a fairly easy and safe reproductive system. It can be done using woody cuttings, in the vegetative or summer phase. First of all, a characteristic and interesting branch is chosen that has at least 4/5 internodes, then only two leaves are left in the upper part and the others are eliminated, then two cuts are made in the lower part of the branch and finally the cutting is planted in a suitable previously wet soil. After 2/3 weeks, the first roots will develop. By layering: it is the fastest way to recreate the bonsai elm. You choose a good branch from the plant, remove the bark, wrap it with a container full of soil until the root system has reproduced. At this point the branch will be cut and planted in a suitable bonsai pot.

Exposure and watering

The bonsai elm should be watered “like rain” when the soil is dry, taking care to check that it has absorbed all the water poured. Particular attention should be paid to stagnant water. In fact, it fears much more excess water than the lack of it. As for the display, it can be placed both outdoors and inside our homes. If placed outdoors, in spring and autumn it should be placed in full sun so that it produces sturdy branches, small leaves and a compact and uniform crown. In summer, however, despite being a plant that tolerates heat very well, it should be placed in the shade to prevent its roots from overheating. In winter it can be safely kept outdoors, but it must be placed in a place sheltered from possible frosts. Inside, on the other hand, it should be placed near a window, possibly with a saucer filled with wet gravel in order to maintain the necessary degree of humidity constant, both in summer and in winter (the radiators on are harmful, as they tend to dry the ‘air). The “lens effect” created by glass should also be avoided.

Styles and pruning

Two types of pruning must be done: the training one which is used to give the plant the desired shape and the maintenance one which is necessary to maintain the shape over time. When pruning is carried out, the twigs that cross, those that go inwards, those parallel to each other or opposite, and those that go upwards, must be cut off. Training pruning is very important because, if done incorrectly, it leads to a weakening of our bonsai and an unbalanced shape. The cuts made must always be medicated with a special healing paste. To maintain a good balance of the bonsai elm, furthermore, it is necessary to provide for topping and pinching. When the foliage is thick and full of shoots, the twigs will be cut after the first or second leaf. To reduce the leaf size, however, between May and June, defoliation can be practiced in order to have a more balanced bonsai. Pruning should be done more when the plant is in vegetative rest. To improve the shape and harmony of the bonsai, wires, rods and weights can be used.

Elm bonsai: Repotting, fertilizations and diseases

Repotting serves to reduce the roots (about 1/3) and also to create a barrier for parasites (gravel should be put on the drainage holes of the pot). The best time is when the plant is in the dormant period (November to March). Pot and soil must also be replaced. The latter must ensure good drainage and avoid water stagnation. The most suitable is that made up half of universal soil and the other half of peat and sand. The fertilizations must be done instead in the vegetative period (from early spring to early autumn), avoiding the hot months (July and August) and the period of vegetative stasis. It is advisable to use a specific slow-breaking liquid fertilizer to be diluted in water. It is good to water the soil before fertilizing it to avoid damaging the root system. As far as diseases are concerned, the bonsai elm is a fairly resistant plant, however it fears pests such as spider mites, cochineals and aphids. The whitish encrustations of the cochineal, possibly present on the branches, can be removed with a simple brush. Against mites, use a mixture with pine oil.

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