Growing a Drake Elm

By Shannon C , last updated April 16, 2011

The Drake Elm is often called by the name Chinese Elm or Lacebark Elm, or by its formal botanical name of Ulmus parvifolia. This fast growing, easy to grow and care for tree can top 50 feet in height and an equal 50 width spread at maturity, and has a variety of medicinal uses when ground into a powder made from the bark or inner meat that is effective in treating fevers and other conditions. The branches grow upright but then droop and appear to "weep," which gives it a uniform, rounded appearance as it matures. The Drake Elm is an excellent shade tree and is more commonly used than other elm varieties as it has a greater resistance to Dutch elm disease. The Drake Elm will often grow as much as eight feet annually, quickly reaching its full height potential.

Preparing to Plant the Drake Elm Tree

The Drake Elm tree requires access to full sun for at least a portion of each day, but will also fare well in partial sunlight or partial shade. The Drake Elm tolerates drought and dry soil conditions well, and can fare well in a variety of soil conditions, as long as soil has adequate drainage to avoid standing water around the roots. It is very important when choosing the planting location to factor in the Drake Elm's height and width to avoid encountering overhead or structure obstructions, including those below such as utility lines or pipes.

Planting the Drake Elm Tree

Once the planting location has been selected, the next step is to prepare the root ball for planting by removing any synthetic packing material, gently spreading apart the young root system, and digging the hole. Make sure the hole in which the root ball will be planted is twice as wide and approximately as high as the root ball itself. Fill the hole with dirt halfway up the root ball, and then water the root ball thoroughly and allow the soil to drain to remove air pockets. Next, continue filling in dirt around the root ball until the hole is full. Water thoroughly again and allow the soil to drain before placing a protective layer of mulch over the soil surface. Make sure that the mulch material does not touch the young trunk of the Drake Elm.

Caring for the Drake Elm Tree

The Drake Elm should be watered as necessary to keep soil moist but never soggy. Fertilization should be done for nutrient purposes only. Over fertilizing will cause accelerated growth and is not recommended for optimal health at maturity. Place the fertilizer near the absorption points which can range several feet from the base of the trunk. Pruning should be done only after the spring blooming season or in the dormant winter season. Prune points should be at the joint where the new bark appears, which often forms a ridge or crack along the branch. It is not recommended to use tar or any type of wound repair formula should the tree ooze sap, as this can damage the new growth.

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