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Care for a Japanese Elm Tree

By Bridget Kelly ; Updated September 21, 2017
Japanese elm trees are beautiful in the fall
autumn elm leaves. image by Solodovnikova Elena from Fotolia.com

The Japanese elm tree (Ulmus davidiana var. japonica) is a deciduous tree that will grow rapidly when it is young, slowing down as it matures and ending up just a touch smaller than American elms. Japanese elms are lovely in the autumn, with red, bronze and yellow leaves. This is a tree that is very easy to care for and, most significantly, has shown that it is resistant to the devastating Dutch elm disease. Japanese elm trees are hardy to USDA zones 4 to 8, and some cultivars are hardy to zone 2.

Plant your Japanese elm tree in an area that gets full sun. Make sure that it will have lots of room to grow, as the tree can get up to 80 feet tall and 60 feet wide. Soil should offer good drainage, but other than that Japanese elm is tolerant of a wide range in soil quality.

Water the Japanese elm tree on the soil that lies at the edge of the canopy. This is the area where the tree’s roots can best absorb moisture. Soak the soil thoroughly, allowing the water to puddle, then allow the soil to dry out prior to watering again.

Prune the Japanese elm in the winter, when it is dormant. Trim off any branches growing lower than 8 feet up the trunk.


About the Author


Based in the American Southwest, Bridget Kelly has been writing about gardening and real estate since 2005. Her articles have appeared at Trulia.com, SFGate.com, GardenGuides.com, RE/MAX.com, MarketLeader.com, RealEstate.com, USAToday.com and in "Chicago Agent" magazine, to name a few. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English with a concentration in creative writing.