The golden elm is a tall tree-like shrub or small tree of the elm genus. It is characterized by an upright habit and a narrow, columnar to funnel-shaped crown. Ulmus carpinifolia ‘Wredei’ can grow up to 10 m high and 5 m wide, growing relatively slowly at 20-40 cm per year. The branches of the undemanding golden elm grow tightly upright and densely branched. The main ornamental value of the golden elm lies solely in its golden yellow foliage. The leaves emerge bright yellow and later change color to yellow to yellow-green. In shady locations, the leaf color is less intense. Due to its relatively small size, the golden elm is also suitable for smaller gardens, especially in a solitary position, for example as a good house tree.
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Plant golden elm
The best time to plant Ulmus carpinifolia Wredei is early autumn or spring. In any case, it should be frost-free so that the wood has enough time to root well in the ground before the first frosts. Once the ideal location has been found, you can plant.
Before planting, it is advisable to place the plant in a bucket of water so that the root ball can soak up the water, which makes it easier for the plant to grow. It is best to leave them in the water until no more air bubbles rise. In the meantime, the soil in the planting area should be thoroughly loosened, which also promotes rapid growth. An appropriately large planting hole is now dug, which should be about twice as deep and wide as the root ball of the plant.
So that the plant gets enough nutrients in the growth phase, it is advisable to first add compost or commercial potting soil to the planting hole. The plant can then be inserted and the planting hole filled with soil. Then the earth is pressed down well and the whole thing is watered abundantly. The golden elm should also be watered regularly in the weeks that follow.
location and soil
The warmth-loving golden elm ‘Ulmus carpinifolia Wredei’ prefers sunny to partially shaded locations. However, too intense sunlight can burn the leaves of the golden elm. The soil should be as permeable as possible, humic, rich in nutrients and bases, loamy and above all calcareous and should never dry out completely. Soil that is too loamy can be improved by mixing in gravel or sand. As a rule, however, the golden elm thrives in any conventional garden soil.
watering and fertilizing
- When dry, this tree should be watered regularly.
- The same applies to the first few weeks after planting.
- Later, the golden elm gets along very well on its own.
- To protect the soil from drying out too much, it is advisable to mulch it.
- You can fertilize the golden elm in spring with a commercially available complete fertilizer.
- Compost is particularly suitable, and the golden elm gets it best.
A pruning is not absolutely necessary for the golden elm, but despite everything, it is very tolerant of pruning. As a rule, it is only cut into shape or thinned out, although it would also tolerate a strong pruning. The best time for pruning is from November to early spring around February/March, before new growth. However, the cut should only be made on frost-free days.
Dry branches on the golden elm may indicate a disease. After they have been removed, this can continue in other branches, such as in the case of Dutch elm disease. It is therefore important to be able to rule out the possibility of a disease before making a cut.
If this is not the case, you can cut the golden elm into the desired shape on frost-free days or remove shoots that are too dense, which have grown into the crown, for example, and thus thin out the crown.
In the case of the golden elm, it often happens that their roots develop runners. This can sometimes be seen in the numerous shoots that appear not far from the trunk. A cut can increase the formation of such offshoots.
Curb root shoots
The characteristic of the golden elm ‘Ulmus carpinifolia Wredei’ to produce more runners can sometimes become a significant problem, especially when the runners or shoots appear in beds or in a well-tended lawn.
You should perhaps know that the root is the heart of the plant. The above-ground parts of the plant are actually only ornaments. If you then prune a tree that tends to form runners, it compensates for this, so to speak, in the increased formation of runners.
In order to get the runners under control to some extent, it is not enough to just cut off the root shoots with a spade, but the runners have to be dug up. This involves tracing the root suckers back to the tree and then digging them up. It is important to ensure that the main root is not damaged, as this would also encourage the plant to form new offshoots.
After you have dug up the root runners, you can add a so-called root barrier, which can keep the runners in check at least for a certain time. However, this is very complex. First, the soil in the root area must be excavated to a depth of at least 1 m, without injuring the main root. Then a commercially available root barrier (special foil) is applied one meter deep around the root area and the soil is refilled.
The golden elm can usually only be propagated by grafting, which is very difficult and requires some horticultural knowledge. As a result, it is better to leave this form of propagation of the golden elm to the experts.
If you still want to propagate this ornamental tree yourself, you can also try to propagate it via root runners or the resulting shoots that the golden elm often forms in the vicinity of the trunk. It doesn’t always work, but it’s definitely worth a try. To do this, dig out one or more shoots that should have enough roots and plant them in the appropriate place.
Dutch elm disease
The golden elm is a cross between mountain and field elm and is therefore less susceptible to Dutch elm disease. This disease is caused by the fungus Ophiostoma ulmi and transmitted by the elm bark beetle, in whose feeding tunnels the fungus can spread. Even if the golden elm is not so often affected by this disease, it can still be affected by it.
- sudden wilting of the crown
- in rare cases, the entire crown is affected
- Leaves of affected plants turn yellow, sometimes brown, curl up and dry up
- Leaves usually get stuck
- for this disease typical dry and drooping branch tips, on which the dried leaves sit, which are also known as ‘flags’
- The formation of water veins is also characteristic
- these are strong, vertically growing shoots that can sprout from the trunk but also from older branches.
Dutch elm disease can also be gradual. Then the leaf fall begins relatively early and the foliage is sparse.
Infection often occurs from May to October. If an infection occurs in May, the first symptoms can already be seen in June. If the infection occurs later in July, the disease often does not break out until the following year. The spores of the fungus can also spread to other trees through root growth and thus transmit the disease.
Elm disease usually means the end of the affected tree. It ultimately dies due to lack of water, since the transport of water in the vessels is no longer possible. To prevent the disease from spreading, the dead golden elm should be felled by April at the latest, then the bark removed and the beetles destroyed. In warm summers, around the beginning of July, the whole thing has to be repeated again to get rid of the next generation of beetles.
An infestation by the gall mite can usually be recognized by deformities, so-called smallpox galls, on the leaves. As a rule, however, it does not pose any danger to this plant and can be combated relatively easily and effectively with appropriate rapeseed oil or paraffin-based sprays from specialist shops.
Elm gall aphid
Another pest that can affect the golden elm is the elm gall aphid. It usually lives on other trees during the summer and uses the elm for wintering. Commercially available sprays based on paraffin and rapeseed oil are also suitable for combating this.
Voles can damage the roots of the golden elm. If the plant stops growing or looks rather sickly, this can indicate damage caused by voles. In order to protect the plant from this pest right from the start, a fine-meshed wire mesh or metal grid is a good idea, which is already planted in the soil around the root area. If the tree is already there, the only option is usually to use standard traps or poisoned baits against these annoying rodents.
Thanks to the color of its leaves and its relatively small size, the golden elm is a popular tree, even for small gardens. It is relatively robust and relatively resistant to the dreaded Dutch elm disease. However, its numerous runners, which sometimes also appear in beds or lawns, can become a problem that can only be controlled with relatively great effort.