How to Grow Elm Trees


There are several types of Elm trees including the American, Siberian and Chinese. The American elm was the pride of many Eastern U.S. neighborhoods as they lined the streets in the early 1900s. But in 1930, Dutch elm disease was introduced from a foreign shipment of elm logs. The disease was carried from tree to tree by the elm bark beetle, and killed most of the stands of trees. Siberian Elm is not affected by Dutch elm disease, but its branches are brittle and break easily.

Step 1

Choose a location that has full sun to some afternoon shade and drains water well. The tree may grow to a height of 70 feet, so stay away from power lines or overhead structures.

Step 2

Dig a hole twice as wide as the container you purchased the tree in. The depth should be the same or slightly less than the container. Clean the dug-out soil of all turf grass, weeds and stones. Combine 2 parts clean soil with 1 part compost and mix it together well.

Step 3

Carefully remove the Elm tree from its container and set it in the planting hole. If the roots are dry, add a bucket or two of water before adding the soil. Then cover the roots with soil and water it to settle the soil around them. Continue to fill the planting hole until it is level with the surrounding ground. Tamp the soil down by stepping on it all the way around the tree.

Step 4

Water the tree thoroughly immediately after planting. Then irrigate every other day for two weeks. Keeping the soil evenly moist, but not soggy, for the first growing season will give it a good start to becoming established. Water when there has been no rain for 10 to 14 days in subsequent seasons.

Step 5

Spread a 4-inch layer of mulch around the tree in a 2-foot diameter. Keep the mulch 6-inches from the trunk. The mulch will keep weeds from growing and competing with the young tree for moisture and nutrition.

Step 6

Use a complete fertilizer each spring as the new growth starts to form on the tree. Follow manufacturer’s directions on the amount to apply per size and age of the tree.

Step 7

Apply an insecticidal spray on the tree in late winter or very early spring and again in the summer. Follow manufacturer’s directions on amount to use and cautions for use.

Tips and Warnings

  • Chemical insecticides are harmful to humans and animals, so be sure to follow the manufacturer’s directions on usage, including protective clothing, masks and eye covering.

Things You'll Need

  • Shovel
  • Compost
  • Fertilizer
  • Mulch
  • Insecticide spray


  • Colorado State University Extension: Elm trees
  • University of Wisconsin Extension: American Elm
  • State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry: Engineering Disease-resistant American Elm Trees
Keywords: growing Elm trees, Dutch Elm disease, American Elm trees

About this Author

Dale DeVries is a retired realtor with 30 years of experience in almost every facet of the business. DeVries started writing in 1990 when she wrote advertising and training manuals for her real estate agents. Since retiring, she has spent the last two years writing well over a thousand articles online for Associated Content, Bright Hub and Demand Studios.