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How to Prune a Chinese Elm Tree

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Full-size Chinese elm trees should be pruned in early spring before they begin producing buds. Mature trees do not require annual pruning, but younger trees do.

A Chinese elm tree can be grown in two primary forms -- the ordinary tree, which can grow to be 60 feet tall or more, and the bonsai form, which is a miniature version of the large tree. Both types of trees need regular pruning to remain healthy, although the full-size Chinese elm needs much less attention than its bonsai counterpart. Chinese elm trees can be planted in a lawn to create shade or grown in a bonsai planter as an indoor display.

How to Prune an Outdoor Chinese Elm Tree

Check the branches of the Chinese elm for broken, damaged or dead branches. These branches can begin to rot on the tree and house fungi and insects that will damage the rest of the tree.

Use pruning shears to cut off dead or damaged branches. Cut the branch off at the place where it joins another branch or the trunk of the Chinese elm tree. Make the cut at an angle to slow the production of sap and limit the damage that occurs from pruning.

Look for any branches that show signs of insect or disease problems, such as fungal growth, insect eggs or bore holes, weak growth or wilting leaves. These branches can begin to spread problems to the rest of the Chinese elm tree and cause it to become sick.

Cut off diseased branches close to an adjoining branch or the trunk. Make an angled cut to stop the flow of sap and reduce damage to the Chinese elm.

Apply pesticides to the tree if there are any insect or fungal problems to help keep the tree healthy. Dispose of all cut branches immediately to reduce the possibility of spreading problems throughout your lawn.

Shape the Chinese elm tree. Check for branches that are growing too close together and cut them back. Remove branches that are growing unevenly or that block lower parts of the tree from receiving sunlight.

How to Prune Chinese Elm Bonsai Trees

Check the bonsai tree for any signs of damage or limbs that are not growing properly. Use the bonsai pruning shears to cut off dead, damaged or weak limbs.

Shape the bonsai tree. Many bonsai trees, including the Chinese elm, can be pruned and twisted into a number of shapes. Cut off branches to maintain the shape of the bonsai tree.

Remove the bonsai tree from its planter and shake or scrape the dirt from its roots. Cut back the roots of the bonsai tree so that they are roughly the same size as the branches. Bonsai trees with large root systems can undergo heavy growth spurts that weaken the tree and damage its appearance.

Place the bonsai tree back in its planter and cover the roots before watering the Chinese elm bonsai.

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