Received Bonsai as gift... need newbie advice!

nanzey(z10/So.Cal.)January 20, 2008

On Friday a gigantic box arrived and after shoveling out about 3 cubic feet of packing puffies, I uncovered this beautiful tree.

I came from Brussel's Bonsai.

It's potted in a typical looking clay bonzai pot with two large drainage holes.

It came with very few instructions, just that it is an

"Outdoor Chinese Elm. Ulmus Parvifolia.

Prefer morning sun and afternoon shade.

Water daily in the spring, summer and fall.

In winter don't water as frequently, but don't let it dry out."

it also talked about mulching and such during winter, which i don't think i have to worry about here...

It's been sitting in my kitchen since Friday night as I need to figure out where to put it.

I have a south facing balcony and an east facing balcony.

The south one gets sun in the morning and a good part of the day and is not very shielded from wind. The east gets morning sun only, then reflected sun from the white building next door - and has some shelter from wind.

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

Many thanks - i'm sure I'll be adding this forum to the list of my other daily gardenweb haunts!

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puglvr1(9b central FL)

Hi nanzey,

I'm sorry I cannot give any advise. I am also a newbie to bonsai. I just wanted to say what a beautiful bonsai you have. You are very lucky to have received that as a gift.Good luck with your new bonsai.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2008 at 7:50PM
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Oh wow!!! That's an amazing gift! What you need to do for now is remove the plastic (of course!) and do put in the eastern exposure. Water when the top inch of soil is dry and don't spray it otherwise. Only water from above - slowly so all the soil gets some and isn't disturbed otherwise. Don't fertilize for 6 wks, then use a balanced house plant type. Now, try to find a bonsai (not bonZai) club nearby because they're great places to learn. Next go to and read up on things there, plus join forums at and - good places with lots of info. Don't think of your tree as a house plant, or treat it like porcelain - it's a strong tree. If a few leaves drop or yellow, don't fuss, it's just relocating pains. If a lot yellow, back off on water, but if they're crispy, look for spider mites (unlikely outdoors) or overly intense sun (especially in the first few wks of acclimatization). Once things are going well, and spring brings new leaves, you'll want to learn about pruning, root pruning and shaping, but those can wait for now. Good luck with your beautiful baby!

    Bookmark   January 20, 2008 at 9:20PM
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that is an excellent bonsai tree. Can you say "crash course" in proper bonsai care. Good luck.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2008 at 9:07AM
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Actually Lucy, spider mites can be a real problem here in the American west for garden and patio plants. Humidity levels from spring through fall can be very low (and mites love that! )

Plants should be inspected often for signs of pests, and action taken as soon as possible to prevent infestations.


    Bookmark   January 23, 2008 at 3:05PM
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Good point Matt, but it is January :-).

    Bookmark   January 23, 2008 at 7:29PM
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Thanks to everyone for all the advice.
OK - so I put the tree outside on Monday and today it is pouring like it hasn't poured here in years!
When my husband gets home I'll have him help me bring it back inside for the night. The temporary stand I have it on does not give it adequate drainage.
(going shopping for one this weekend)
I'm hoping this doesn't shock the poor thing.

I read up on the Chinese Elm on several websites and found very conflicting information! Especially when it comes to pruning, location and temps...

There's a really terrific garden center near here so I'm hoping they will help shed some light...
I'm so nervous!

    Bookmark   January 23, 2008 at 9:32PM
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OK - I put the bonsai out this morning while the sun was shining.
Of course, tonight it's pouring again!
I noticed that there are some new leaves opening on all the tips - is this unusual for this time of year?

    Bookmark   January 24, 2008 at 10:33PM
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Hey all -
I have a quick question -
This guy is looking great - but sprouting new shoots all over the place - should I be pruning?
I went to the bookstore this weekend - they only had 2 books and they were a little confusing. Both discussed pruning in spring and summer -'s only February!
I am ordering a bunch of books online right now, but I wanted to get a quick answer from the experts!

    Bookmark   February 5, 2008 at 3:06PM
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Choose which you want to keep, and cut off the others. If some are very long and straggly, cut them back to a couple of leaf pairs each.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2008 at 5:16PM
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