All about the American elm, a magnificent garden tree

American elm leaves are small

The American elm is a deciduous tree., which can reach an impressive height if the conditions are met. In addition, it grows quite quickly and casts a lot of shade, so it is a very interesting option if you need a plant that meets these characteristics.

But, before deciding whether to buy it or not, it is very important to know her a littlebecause that’s the only way to know if it’s really the plant you’re looking for or not.

Where does the American elm come from?

The American elm is a deciduous tree.

Image – Wikimedia/Marty Aligata

our protagonist is a tree native to eastern North America, from Canada to Florida. It grows in almost any type of terrain, as long as it does not lack water. In addition, we are talking about a tree that resists frost without problems, as well as abundant snowfall; and high temperatures do not harm it too much.

Their life expectancy can be very long, around 300 years. The problem is that he is susceptible to graphiosis, so in areas where this disease is present, he lives much less.

What are their characteristics ?

The American elm, whose scientific name is american ulmus, It is a deciduous tree that can exceed 30 meters in height reaching 40 meters, and which develops a thick trunk 1 to 2 meters in diameter. The crown is very wide and consists of a large number of branches from which leaves about 15 centimeters long with serrated margins arise. These are green, but in the fall they turn yellow and then brown before falling from the tree.

Its flowers can self-pollinate, since they have female and male parts. These grow in the spring, before the leaves grow. The fruit is a small samara 2 centimeters long, composed of a wing that surrounds the seed.

Is it of any use?

We are talking about a plant very decorative, with which it is very easy to have a beautiful rustic garden. It is not excessively demanding as we will see later, and as it also gives a lot of shade, it is interesting to plant it in isolation in order to be able to admire it better.

The only downside is that has very strong and invasive roots. This means that it is not a tree recommended for small gardens, because to avoid problems it must be planted about ten meters from pipes, paved floors, walls and anything that could break.

What care do you need?

The American elm is a tall plant

Image – Wikimedia/Marty Aligata

It is a tree that does not need much care; In fact, we don’t need to give it to him if we plant it in the ground and also live in an area where it often rains frequently. But things get complicated if it rains very little, because in this case it will have to be watered at least for the first year so that it takes root well.

Likewise, it will be necessary to be a little aware of it if it is grown in a pot, because having a very limited space and amount of land, it could dehydrate quickly. Therefore, we are going to talk about its needs and how to take care of it:


american elm must be located outside, not only because it is a plant that can grow very tall, but also because it needs it. You have to feel the passing of the seasons, the cold, the heat, the wind and the rain; In addition, it requires direct exposure to sunlight. Inside a house, or any building, it would be fine for maybe a few months (Spring-Summer), but it would weaken and die quickly.


  • Court: it is strongly, strongly recommended to plant it in the ground as soon as possible, even the day of its purchase; or if it is a seedling, as soon as it measures at least 20 centimeters in height. The land should drain water well, that is, in case of heavy rains, puddles do not form (or if they do form, the water is quickly absorbed).
  • Flower pot: in case you are going to have it in a pot, you can put a universal growing medium that contains perlite, like this one.


As long as it’s not raining It will be necessary to water every 2 or 3 days in summer, and every 4-6 days the rest of the year.. It must be watered well, conscientiously. If it is in a pot, water must be poured until it comes out of the drainage holes; and if he is in the garden, he will lie down until he sees that the ground is soaked.

Also it is recommended to water with rainwater. It is the best that the plants can receive, the purest. But since it does not rain everywhere in the same way, in many places it will be difficult to have some. For this reason, we recommend that you take out buckets or other containers when it rains, so that once the rain is over, the bottles can be filled with this water which will then be used for irrigation; and at times when it is not available, water with water with a pH below 8, that is, slightly acidic or slightly alkaline.


American elm grows in the spring

Image – Wikimedia/Melissa McMasters

It is advisable to pay it in spring and summer, with fertilizers like compost or guano (on sale here). Also, if you are making homemade compost, it will be fine if you put some around the trunk.


american elm propagates by seed. In spring, they must be sown in a pot with a hole in its base, with a universal growing medium. Bury them a little, and water. Then you have to put them outside, in full sun.


It is susceptible to attacks from:

  • Barrenillos: see file.
  • Cochineals: see sheet.
  • Elm Galeruca
  • defoliating caterpillars
  • trunk holes


As for illnesses, you may have the following:

  • trunk caries
  • Bark cankers: see sheet.
  • elm graphiosis: see sheet.
  • Fungal leaf spots


The american ulmus frost resistant down to -40°C. Likewise, it also supports heat up to 35-40ºC if it contains water.

The American elm is an imposing and very beautiful tree, don’t you think?

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