Chinese Elms are deciduous trees with small leaves and fine twigging on their secondary branches. These trees are imported from Chinese nurseries where the branches have been painstakingly trained for years. Chinese Elms are durable and may be displayed indoors for extended periods of time.
From the Manufacturer
Chinese elms are durable, deciduous trees with small leaves, a large trunk base, balanced root spread, and an evenly tapered trunk. In autumn their leaves turn vibrant shades of red. This Chinese elm is five years old, 6 to 8 inches tall, and comes in a 5-inch pot. Every tree order includes specific growing instructions.
Delivery and Packaging: What to expect when you receive your bonsai
To ensure only well-established, healthy trees are shipped, Brussel's Bonsai imports its trees from nurseries in China where growers spend years training and shaping tree branches. Some bonsai defoliate (drop leaves) when their environment changes. If upon the tree's arrival some leaves have dropped or turned slightly brown that does not mean the bonsai is unhealthy. Defoliation is the natural result of being in the low-light environment of a shipping box. Whenever possible, Brussels Bonsai avoids using Styrofoam-popcorn packaging. In some cases, Styrofoam popcorn must be used to safely pack unusually shaped bonsai. Organic popcorn packaging made from corn starch reacts with moisture from the trees and can dissolve. When you receive your tree, place the box in a shaded area to unpack. Inspect tree for damage to branches or leaves. Water soil if dry. Place each bonsai in protected shade for at least one week before moving to a sunny location.
What is a Bonsai?
Literally, the Japanese word "bonsai" means "tray tree" or "plant grown in a pot." The term refers to the artistic techniques used to capture the natural beauty of trees, rather than a specific variety of tree. A full-grown tree and a bonsai can be grown from the same seed--the bonsai has simply been dwarfed and shaped through years of training. To develop authentic bonsai, Brussels grows specimens under carefully controlled conditions, meticulously training each tree with wire and pruning over a period of years. The value of a particular bonsai typically depends on size, age, and training. Generally, more expensive trees are larger, older, and have had more detailed, elaborate training. These qualities combined create the illusion of a large tree in a natural setting.
Deciduous/Outdoor Bonsai Care
Outdoor bonsai are deciduous trees that require the same climate changes in spring, summer, fall, and winter as full-sized trees of the same species. As a rule, deciduous bonsai do well in regions with humidity levels of 50% to 75% and yearly temperature ranges of 20 to 100 degree F. During winter, deciduous bonsai must remain outdoors. This period of dormancy is essential--without it, the tree may become unhealthy and susceptible to disease. Protect or "heel-in" your bonsai by covering the pot and soil with pine needles or mulch. Place the tree against a wall to shield it from extreme winds. Outdoor bonsai are more vulnerable to extreme cold than full-size trees and should be moved to a garage, shed, cold frame, or basement when temperatures fall below 20 degrees F.
Deciduous bonsai need to be kept outdoors year-round. Natural sunlight and rainwater are both important elements in an ideal growing environment. Typically, they require six or more hours of direct sunlight a day and do well in locations that get shade from late afternoon sun. Outdoor bonsai may be displayed indoors once a month, for short periods of time (2-3 days). In Japan, bonsai are traditionally displayed against a solid black, white, wood, or bamboo background, or on a stand or pot larger than the tree. Stark contrasts enhance the bonsais simple beauty.
Generally speaking, water when the top of the soil is dry. Use a can or hose attachment that casts a soft, rain-like spray that wont disturb the soil in the pot. Do not allow bonsai to dry out. Water daily during hot summer months. In winter, though trees need less water, its a good idea to water well before a hard freeze (frozen water acts as insulation).
Soil and fertilizer
Bonsai trees spend years in the same soil and eventually deplete the available nutrients. Providing supplemental nutrition is essential for a healthy tree. Most water soluble and time-released fertilizers work well when used as directed.
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Bonsai need to be repotted every 3 to 5 years. After receiving your tree, wait at least one growing season before repotting. Using proper bonsai soil is critical. Brussels bonsai soil consists of a mixture of high-fired clay particles and finely ground pine bark. The soil-free mix does not compact, allows water to drain easily, and helps prevent the root rot that often occurs with ordinary potting soil.
It is important to pot your bonsai correctly. Prepare your container for potting by putting screen over the drain holes. Run wire through the drain screen--you will need this to secure the tree in the container. Trim the rootball so it will fit in the bonsai pot. Keep in mind, cutting larger roots is better than cutting small feeder roots. Continue trimming the root ball until it will fit into the bonsai container. Be sure to place a good layer of bonsai soil on the bottom of the bonsai container.
Place the tree in the pot. Use the wire to secure the tree in the bonsai container. Twist and pull the wire with pliers to tighten. Add bonsai soil around the root ball. Use a chopstick to work the bonsai soil into the root system. Your bonsai should now be secure in its new container.
All bonsai require some degree of seasonal pruning. Regular pruning produces smaller branches. A simple pair of pointed-nose scissors does the job. Wiring may also be used to hold them in a desired position or location. If youre happy with the branch placement as is, there is no real need to wire. For detailed instruction in the art of pruning bonsai, Brussels Bonsai recommends purchasing a book on basic training techniques.
If you choose to wire your bonsai, make sure to use heavier gauge wire for larger branches on the bottom of the tree, and lighter gauge for smaller branches. Begin by sticking the end of the wire into the soil next to the trunk of the tree. Wrap the wire around the trunk until you come to the first branch. Continue curling the wire around the branch. Once you have come to the end of a branch, cut and remove the excess wire. The wire now allows you to bend the branch into the desired shape and location.
Most bonsai trees can live up to 100 years or more depending, of course, on the quality of care they receive.
The Story of Brussel's Bonsai Nursery
When Brussel Martin was five years old, he was instantly captivated by several bonsai his father brought back from a California business trip. As a teenager, he began to seriously study the art of bonsai. What started as an artistic endeavor in his parents' backyard quickly grew into a business. In the 1970s, he began selling bonsai through the mail and traveling to shows across the country. By the early '80s, he was making annual buying trips to Asia.
As the business has grown, so has his desire to introduce bonsai to more and more Americans. Brussels now offers a full range of bonsai trees, from modestly priced bonsai for the beginner to unique specimens styled by bonsai experts.