Ulmus alata, a.k.a. ‘Winged Elm’ is a species of deciduous tree from the Ulmaceae family of trees. It is endemic to regions of south-central United States and currently in the low concern conservation status. Due to its fast growth speed and invasive tendencies, this tree can take over fields and forest clearing quickly causing problems to local plant life.
The trees themselves are medium-sized and will grow around 50 meters in height. That being said, some of the tallest ones have been reported at heights of more than 90 feet (ca. 27 m) and create large canopies in pyramid shapes. They have spread out projections which can be seen on the sides of branches and twigs.
Apart from this, the Ulmus alata has a brown-grey bark that is characterized by small and shallow crevasses. The leaves are a deep shade of green and go from slim to wide and then taper to the end.
As for rowing Ulmus alata trees into bonsai, they are gaining more and more popularity regularly. This is primarily due to their abundance in the wild and fast growth speed. Thanks to this, they are easy to find and also suitable for beginners.
This article will assist bonsai enthusiasts in gaining a better understanding of the Ulmus alata Bonsai Tree.
How long does it take to grow Winged Elm Bonsai?
Ulmus alata bonsai are fast growers and will grow to maturity in under 10 years for most trees. This is the period it will take for the seed to mature enough to be cut. That stated, this is only an estimate, and the exact amount of time required for growth varies based on factors like climate, soil, etc.
To assist you, let’s go over the specifics of how to plant, care for, and grow your Ulmus alata bonsai.
Position and lighting
Ulmus alata bonsai are able to grow in full sun conditions during spring and early summer. They can be kept outside but as temperatures rise, you should bring them into the shade. This is because direct sunlight in hotter regions can sometimes be harmful and lead to the burning of the leaves. Apart from this, colder weather should also be avoided and you should keep your bonsai indoors.
Ulmus alata bonsai are quite hardy and will grow well in most moderate temperatures. Specifically, you can grow your bonsai in between zones 6 through 9 without any issue. That being said, going out of this range is not advised and you will be better off bringing your bonsai indoors.
The Ulmus alata can be planted in a variety of soils. However, slightly acidic soil with a pH of 5.5-6 is the best for growth.
The Ulmus alata does not require too much water for sustained growth. Unlike many other species, it can dry out slightly in between watering and will be able to tolerate the conditions. That being said, if you do notice that the soil is dry, you should water your bonsai within a few hours to maintain its health.
On the other hand, if you notice that the soil is moist, watering should be avoided. This is because the Ulmus alata does not need a lot of water and it can lead to water logging. Waterlogging is quite harmful to such species and can even be fatal if it leads to conditions like root rot.
The amount of water you should use varies depending on the temperature and season. During the spring and summer months, water your bonsai once every 1-2 days to keep it healthy. Because your tree will use less water in the winter, you can reduce your watering frequency to once every 3-4 days.
Because bonsai develops in pots, it may not get all the nutrients it needs naturally. Fertilizing it is crucial. So, for Ulmus alata, any organic fertilizer diluted to half strength will suffice. Fertilizing should be done monthly in the spring and summer, but it can be stopped in the winter.
How to Plant and Grow Winged Elm Bonsai
You want to learn how to grow Ulmus alata bonsai and how to care for it. Awesome! Let’s look at how to grow and plant your own Ulmus alata bonsai in more detail.
Ulmus alata bonsai is most commonly propagated from cuttings as it is the easiest method. This should be done in the spring during the time the buds begin to swell. This will help in improving your chances of success. Apart from that, the seeds should be planted right after they ripen.
Pruning and wiring
Pruning refers to the process of cutting and trimming excess branches and leaves to maintain the bonsai’s shape and appeal. This is done to reduce unnecessary outgrowths that can ruin the compact and small structure of your bonsai. Ulmus alata is a fast-growing species of bonsai and due to this, pruning is essential.
These bonsai are known for growing small twigs and leaves excessively which requires heavy pruning in the growing months. For this, you should focus on the top part of your bonsai to reduce the upper branches and keep a conical shape. Also, as twigs do often grow in appealing designs, you can adjust them according to your preferences.
When it comes to wiring, you should not keep wires on this bonsai for too long. Due to its fast growth speed, tight wires can leave marks on the bark after a few months. So, when wiring, try to limit it to a few months at a time.
When it comes to cultivating a bonsai tree, repotting is another crucial step. When it comes to Ulmus alata trees, they should be repotted every two years when they are young, and then less frequently as they get older. The roots of these plants become intertwined and begin to develop outside of the closed root system. Due to this, repotting aids in clearing out unnecessary roots and keeping the tree acclimated.
The procedure itself is quite simple. First, remove your bonsai, as well as all the surrounding roots and soil, from its pot. Trim the excess roots using trimmers while being cautious not to cut central roots. You can then re-pot your bonsai and fill in the space with fresh soil. Repotting can be done in the same pot or into a new pot according to your requirements.
It’s important to remember that repotting should be done in the spring as the bonsai will be able to recuperate quickly. To ensure that your bonsai obtains the nutrients, use organic fertilizers and lots of water during this time.
How to Care for Your Winged Elm Bonsai
Ulmus alata bonsai do well in zones 6 through 9 and can be kept outside in these conditions. That being said, you should keep your bonsai clear of extreme hot or cold weather throughout its early years. In terms of soil, any conventional mix with a PH of 5.5-6 would suffice.
For the best results, Ulmus alata bonsai should be cultivated in semi-shade. Keep them away from direct sunlight and cold air, as these might cause difficulties with their growth.
Irrigation and misting should be done on a regular basis to maintain the soil moist. These bonsai should be repotted every 2-3 years when they’re young, and then more frequently as they get older.
Pests & Diseases
Pests and illnesses are a typical challenge that all bonsai and plants must deal with. These diseases can hook on to your bonsai and deplete its nutrition, causing it to die. However, the Ulmus alata isn’t very prone to such problems, so you shouldn’t be too concerned. Let’s have a look at some of the most frequent pests and illnesses that can harm your bonsai –
- Dutch Elm Disease – One of the biggest problems with the Ulmus alata is the Dutch Elm Disease. This disease leads to the wilting and death of species of elm native to regions of Minnesota. It is primarily caused to an invasive fungal pathogen and is spread through beetles. That being said, root grafts can also spread the disease making it a large issue in nature. Sadly, there is no cure as of now so make sure to keep your bonsai safe.
- Mites – Mites are small insects that can cause many issues for bonsai trees. They are a kind of sucking insect and also carry various harmful bacteria which can lead to diseases. Due to their small size, it is hard to see them with the naked eye. So, if you suspect a mite infestation, shake your leaves over white paper and you should see them fall. Removal can be done with a specialized mite spray.
- Scale – Scale are tiny insects that stick to the undersides of your leaves and feed on the liquids inside. They can be quite harmful to your bonsai, so get rid of them right away. This can be accomplished by spraying pesticides on them and removing them one by one with a brush or pick.