big water-elm progression

Sneak Peek

We collected this big Water-elm in late-summer 2018. It’s three years later, and time for the tree to go into its custom bonsai pot.

Big Water-elm Progression

This very nice and very large Water-elm – trunk base 4″ above the root crown, height destined to be 36″ – had eked out some growth in the fall of 2018 after we collected it in late summer. Those are fall leaves you see on the tree, in this photo taken in February of 2019.

A couple of months later I was able to do an initial styling on those very few branches the tree made available. Hey, you gotta start somewhere. The tree doesn’t look like much yet, but this is where you’ll start with just about every deciduous tree you collect. I always recommend wiring branches just as soon as possible, because that’s when they’re easiest to bend into the position you want. The longer you wait, the harder it gets and at some point it becomes impossible.


It’s fun to be able to fast-forward a year (don’t we all love progression series?). Those branches I wired have certainly grown out. I’ve even been able to prune them back some and regrow them.

You’ll notice that the leader I wired up in the photo above is a lot thicker now. It’s been through at least a couple of rounds of grow and chop. That’s how it’s done.

This is September of last year, and the tree has just put on a huge amount of growth.
Water-elms develop very quickly once you have them in a container – even a bonsai container, and even if you jump the gun on thickening your leader. They’re not really weeds, but are actually considered as such (meaning noxious weeds) in areas where they’re plentiful. They grow accordingly.


Here’s the first shot from yesterday, the fateful day. With the warm weather that has set in lately, this tree (along with most of my other Water-elms) was swelling buds. I don’t mind potting or repotting when a tree’s buds are swelling, but I almost always avoid it once the tree is leafed out.

And this wraps up the magic for Monday March 15th, 2021. I had commissioned this outstanding Lary Howard custom pot last year, and it’s been waiting patiently for this tree. I can’t imagine a better match.

As is common when you root-prune a tree that’s swelling buds, this one is leafing out in just 24 hours! The root-pruning triggers the explosion of foliar growth. A week from now, this tree will be fully in leaf.

Let me know what you think of this one. I’m very pleased with how quickly it’s become a showable bonsai.