The Japanese Zelkova, also known as Zelkova Serrata or Zelkova Schneideriana, is a type of bonsai tree that is native to the Eastern China, Japan, Korea and Taiwan.
The Zelkova tree is a beautiful, medium-sized species that can grow up to 100 feet tall outdoors. It is characterized by multiple limbs and stems sprouting out of a short, round trunk. These sprouting stems create a round, almost dome-shaped top.
The flowers bloom in the spring and can be identified by its egg-shaped buds with many overlapping petals. The flowers are a yellow-green color and can be found growing in groups along newly sprouted stems. The leaves are distinguished by their oval, serrated edges. The leaves are smooth on the underside, however, on top they are rough to the touch.
The twigs and branches are slender and the bark can be a gray-white or gray-brown color.
Although the species can grow up to 100 feet outdoors, these trees can adapt to be an indoor plant. When choosing to grow your bonsai inside, look for location in your home that includes the following:
Your indoor tree compost should never dry out – the soil should be kept evenly moist at all times. Be sure to monitor your plant’s moisture levels and do not make watering an unnecessary routine. Over watering the tree can result in root rot, drooping leaves and even plant death.
During the winter months, your Zelkova bonsai tree will only need to feed once a month. During the spring and summer it is a good idea to schedule balanced feeding sessions every week. Zelkova trees do not need to be fed when out of leaf.
For the first 10 years of the tree’s life, you will need to repot once a year – usually in the Spring when the buds have full extended. After the first 10 years, the Zelkova Bonsai will only need to be repotted when necessary.
The tree is a great species for outdoor cultivation. The acclimatized plant is actually very frost resilient. It is important to remember, however, that temperatures below 5 degrees Celsius can result in damages to the branches, roots and overall health of the plant.
Outdoor watering periods for the species are very similar as to the indoor watering periods. It is important to keep compost moist and avoid letting the tree dry out. Because you have chosen to grow your tree outdoors, be sure to pay attention to high temperatures, sun exposure and strong growth. You may need to water your tree more often during these conditions.
Outdoor feeding of Z. Serrata is a little different than indoor feeding. It is important to feed your tree high Nitrogen on a weekly basis for the first month after the buds open in the Spring. After that, use standard feed every two weeks until late summer.
Outdoor Z. Bonsais can be winterized during the winter months and repotted in basic soil mix after Fall.
When choosing a soil for your indoor or outdoor bonsai Zelkova, look for something with a sandy, soil potting mix. It is important to enhance this basic soil weekly in the Summer and Spring with a balanced liquid fertilizer. Fertilizer will only need to be applied once a month in the Winter. Once the leaves have dropped, do not fertilize or try to enhance the soil.
The most common shape Zelkova bonsai tree owners want to achieve is a dome or “broom” shape. Follow these steps in achieve a broom shape:
By following the simple pruning steps listed above, a broom or dome shape should be achieved. It may take a few rounds of pruning to get the full broom shape you are looking for.
The Japanese Zelkova Bonsai is a beautiful tree and should be cared for by a bonsai enthusiast who has time and patience on their side. Avoid these commonly bonsai mistakes when taking care of your plant: