Zelkova is a genus of deciduous plants that belongs to the Ulmaceae family. The plant has variable dimensions in nature that could vary from the bush shape to the tree shape with heights that could reach up to 35 meters. The zelkova shows medium-sized leaves, with a green color and an oval and serrated shape, while the bark has a brown color. The foliage usually appears very rounded. The flowers have a green color, are inconspicuous and do not represent the ornamental part of the plant. Before falling in autumn, the leaves have a yellow-orange color. As it turns out to be a particularly resistant plant, it is often used for making bonsai, especially for beginners.

Cultivation of zelkova

The zelkova or Japanese elm is resistant to pests and diseases, it usually has a deciduous habit, but if grown as bonsai in the apartment it could take on the characteristics of an evergreen plant. The plant prefers bright positions in full sun, both indoors and outdoors, even if during the hottest periods it would be necessary to place it in a shaded area. In case of particularly cold winters it would be advisable to protect the pot and the roots with special fabrics, in case the plant is stored outdoors. The zelkova does not need abundant watering, it should be administered when the soil is dry. During the winter it would be advisable to water once a month,

Care of the zelkova

The ideal soil for growing zelkova should be a mixture of sand, clay and peat. Young bonsai should be repotted once a year or once every 2, depending on how fast the plant grows. Repotting should be done by slowly extracting the bonsai from the pot, then the roots should be cleaned and pruned slightly to fortify them. In the pot should usually be added material that favors drainage, in order to avoid dangerous stagnation of water. Repotting should be carried out in the period between spring and summer, during this period the soil should be enriched with a liquid fertilizer at least once a week, in order to facilitate the recovery of the plant and adaptation to the new soil.

Pruning and diseases of the zelkova

The zelkova bonsai may need pruning to modify its shape and contain its development. The parts that best tolerate pruning are those where the largest leaves are found. Remember that pruning should never be done through the metal wire which could damage the plant. If the roots come out of the pot it would be advisable to bury them again, adding new soil. In this way, a better development of the roots and the plant could be guaranteed. In adult specimens, on the other hand, the roots that protrude from the ground could be left uncovered, resulting more ornamental. The plant is not particularly sensitive to diseases and parasites, although occasionally it could be affected by green aphids.

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