Cork-bark elm tips?

I got this cork-bark Chinese elm back in February when it was basically a trunk with a few twigs. Now it’s turned into a big wad of foliage and looking happy! I meant to bring it to my local meeting, but obviously we’re not going to have one for a bit so I thought I’d post it here for thoughts. Is there anything I ought to be doing this time of year to thin the foliage any? Also I really like the way that big root continues the curve of the trunk, bu as you can see it has a big wound on top - suggestions for handling that going forward would be great too!

1 Like

Where are you located? Your tree is well ahead of mine. I like the line of the root and trunk.
I think you can expect elm to leaf out several times in a season so I believe you cut these branches back hard to start developing ramification and reduce leaf size.
I’ll post some pictures of mine later and perhaps we can discuss the two trees together.

Oh a side by side would be great, please do! I’m in SF, we’ve had beautiful weather this year so everything’s going nuts. I’ve already thinned my maples once and need to do it again soon.

I purchased this + 18 year old tree at a club auction in October 2019

This image is post repotting in March 2020 when I got carried away with the root pruning. It’s about 30" tall. I had intended to do some work on the foliage but decided to let it recover.


I don’t believe it has ever had any wire on the branches. The ramification is at the tips and I want to tighten it up with some back budding.

There are some really ugly warty scars from previous pruning. I’m hoping someone can advise me how to reduce them.

I don’t know if the bark goes overboard when healing pruning scars or if the cuts were made incorrectly or at the wrong time. I look forward to hearing opinions.

The elm’s looking great! I’d let it grow for another month and then prune it back to no more than 1" so you can start building branches with short internodes. After you prune the branches you can wire them if need be so they have the shape you’re looking for.

This approach will really shorten the branches now, but it will ensure you have the framework in place to support beautiful branches in the future.

1 Like

Just as a quick update, our club had a zoom critique with Andrew Robson from Rakuyo-en up in Oregon. I showed him the tree and he said much the same thing but advised letting it extend until fall so the branch bases would be thicker to start with, so I think I’m going to do that and then select branches and edit as Jonas suggested, once the leaves have dropped and I can see what’s going on.

2 Likes