Monday, November 5, 2012

Irresistible Miniature Elm

One of the best reasons to attend an American Conifer Society Western Region conference, in addition to meeting some wonderful people, is the silent and live plant auctions. Resistance is futile if you have an ounce of plant lust. Generous wholesale growers and a few conifer society members donate cool, and in some cases, rare plants (mostly conifers) to raise funds for the chapter. I told myself I wasn’t going to bid on anything—I still have plants I need to get in the ground acquired earlier this year—but then I saw...Ulmus parviflora ‘Hokkaido’.

Tiny, tiny (1/8th inch long) leaves densely clothe this irresistible little elm. Commonly called a Chinese elm, Ulmus parviflora is native to China, Korea and Japan. ‘Hokkaido’ is sometimes called princess elm, an apt name for this dwarf cultivar. Word in the cyber world is that it may grow to 1-foot tall in five years and a whopping three feet tall in 30 years. It’s supposed to have corky bark, which would be cool; I need to take a closer look to see if my specimen has developed this trait yet. It should thrive in—and needs—full sun and heat with good drainage and regular water. Zone information varies, but it looks like it is safe in USDA Zone 5-9.

It’s likely that well-stocked garden centers and retail nurseries will carry this cultivar.

If anyone has experience with ‘Hokkaido’ please share your tips for preserving this darling. Wish me luck!


  1. In my experience with Ulmus parviflora, not very hardy at least in a container. Also the plant is very fragile, I mean it breaks very easily.

  2. Thanks, Lindy. I'll try it up close to the house to give it some protection and will be VERY, VERY careful when transplanting it so I don't break any branches.