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Being a rapid and very vigorous grower makes it possible to have quick results with Zelkova. The downside is that the elm can overgrow very quickly and so it needs regular pruning and re-styling to stay in shape.

Zelkova serrata Hokidachi style with very well ramified branches
Hokidachi or broomstyle – Trees in this style have an upright trunk with branches and foliage radiating outwards in the shape of a Japanese fan or an umbrella.


  • Common name: Elm
  • Genus: Zelkova
  • Higher taxon: Ulmaceae
  • Species: Zelkova serrata
  • Skill level: Beginner to advanced
  • Soil type: medium rich, but well draining, with 40-50% fine gravel added to the mix.
  • Flowers and fruit: Insignificant small green flowers appear in spring as the foliage emerges.
  • Foliage: Leaves are elliptic to obovate. Taper-pointed at the tip, double-toothed and medium green when fully developed. Autumn colour is variable, ranging from an undistinguished yellow to eye-catching shades of yellow-orange through to red-brown.
  • Bark: Smooth grey bark in youth exfoliates with age to reveal orange-brown inner bark.


From cuttings or air layering

Zelkova broomstyle, Hokidachi, in spring

Likes full sun; however, in summer you need to protect the plant from the heat and hot sun by semi-shading it. In winter keep protected against cold winds and frosts.

The clip and grow method is very successful when thickening of the branches is necessary. Then let the new shoots grow out to four leaves. Tolerates repeated defoliation when leaves are hardened off. This can be done during the growing season to create very small leaves. Structural cuts can be made, especially in autumn or early spring.


Repot in early spring before leaves start to bud, then every two to three years. Use a well-draining soil mix.

Zelkova serrata

Likes to be kept moist during the entire season.

Zelkova nire – 150 mm

Wire to create a better branch structure. Use aluminium wire. Monitor your tree at the start of the growing season.

A Zelkova serrata Hokidachi, in autumn
Zelkova hokidachi, winter


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