Chinese Elm repot timing

In preparation for spring bonsai work I am trying to iron out any of the gaps in my knowledge (which are many) and I am nervous about a full repot on my shohin Chinese Elm.

Part of that nervousness stems from another Chinese Elm I repotted last year that never woke up afterwards. I think that perhaps I repotted too early as the buds were swelling but not broken yet. Do you wait for the buds to break before going ahead with the repot? I was operating under the assumption that it is to be done just before they break, but this lead to devastating results last season. I don’t really want to make the same mistake twice so any help would be greatly appreciated!


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You are mentioning only timing of repotting that could kill the tree. There are many other factors to consider esp because Elm is very forgiving tree.
I would go ahead and repot when you see buds swelling. Think of other things you have to be mindful when repotting to give this tree the highest possible chance to survive and thrive. Perhaps re-watch some repotting stream?


That is fair. I guess the thing that made me think it had to be the repot is that it was the only difference between the way both trees were handled last spring. And since the buds were swelling on the tree that died I figured I must have mishandled the repot in some way.

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Have you looked at aftercare as a possible problem? Ryan always states that after a “major surgery like repotting” that after care is key to recover the tree. Allowing the tree to get established in its new home after significant changes in its foundation. Before the repot is the time to ensure you have all the equipment, tools and knowledge to accomplish the desired outcome. Being a little nervous is fine. If you are afraid for the survival of the plant, maybe you need to postpone the procedure and work with the direction or assistance of more experienced individual or a professional. :thinking:


The aftercare could very well have been the issue. It was an up-potting a bit late in the repot season (late April) and the tree in question was left outside afterwards. Perhaps the roots dried out too much? I don’t think the temps dropped below freezing after the repot and I am pretty mindful about bringing freshly repotted trees back into the unheated shed they are left in for the winter if a frost/freeze is possible.

Would it make any sense to bring the tree indoors after the repot during any cold weather just until bud break and frost/freezing temps are no longer a concern? I know indoor trees are a no-no but unfortunately I don’t have access to a greenhouse or the like and I am unsure of how much protection the shed provides if/when the temps drop in the spring after the major surgery is done.

I appreciate all of your help btw!