Growing a Japanese Elm Tree

The Japanese elm is a magnificent tree, one that could very well be the tree you’ve been looking for to plant in your yard. This graceful Asian giant is umbrella shaped and well known for being quite hardy, especially against Dutch Elm disease. If you are considering this species of tree as a possible addition to your yard or garden, then you will need to educate yourself on the planting and maintenance requirements involved in growing a Japanese elm tree. In this article we are going to discuss the physical attributes of this species of elm as well as provide you with a brief planting and general maintenance guide.

The Japanese elm is, as I mentioned earlier, a giant of a tree. On average, this elm tree can grow to a height of anywhere from fifty to eighty feet and a spread (width) of anywhere from forty to sixty feet. The foliage of this tree is dark green in color and jagged in shape. You can expect a burst of orangey-red and yellow colors from the foliage of this elm during autumn, too! In most cases, the bark of this tree is smooth and gray, but it isn’t uncommon for it to peel away to reveal lighter shades of gray or white.

The Japanese elm needs a fair amount of sunlight. When choosing a spot to plant your tree, it’s best if you can place it in an area that gets either full or partial sunlight (though full sun is best). The soil in this area should have good drainage to prevent water from pooling around the roots, causing them to rot. As far as soil quality, this is a hardy tree and can tolerate soil that isn’t the best quality. It’s always important to bear in mind the size of the tree. Positioning it close to a house may not be the best idea as storms and windy weather could result in fallen branches.

When you have chosen the ideal spot for your Japanese elm, it’s time to get your hands dirty! The elm tree can be planted at any time of year, really, as long as the ground is not in danger of becoming frozen. I would say have it planted by mid autumn at the latest. When you dig the hole, make sure that it is at least two times the size of the young tree’s roots. (This includes depth as well as width.) When you place the ball of roots into the ground, make sure that the top of the roots is just about level with the ground, allowing a little room to cover with dirt. Begin to fill the hole in with the dirt and pack it down firmly as you go. Give the soil a good watering but make sure that you don’t make the soil too moist.

Once the tree is planted, it will need to be watered during times of drought or if the weather is particularly hot. If you are planting more than one Japanese elm tree, you should space them out at least twenty feet apart. Aside from watering, this type of tree does require quite a bit of care when it comes to pruning. This tree is known for having a short trunk so if you don’t prune these trees properly then the branches will be quite low-hanging. For sheer convenience (and for the sake of a tidy appearance) it is recommended that you train the tree so that its branches start at about six to eight feet, which is plenty of room to walk under the lowest branches.

If you think a Japanese elm is just right for you, talk to your local garden nursery about obtaining a young elm to plant. Alternatively, you can also purchase one online to be delivered to your home. Best of luck with the addition of your new elm tree!


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