How Long Do Elm Trees Live?

If you love breezy elm trees, you’re on the right page. Whether you’re a hobbyist or someone more serious about gardening, if you thought of planting elm trees, you probably also wondered how long they live, what type of species they are categorized into, and how quickly they grow. In this article, we will answer all of those questions and more.

As you read on, you will get a complete insight into how long it takes elm trees to grow and mature. Additionally, you will find some snippets of wisdom about Chinese elm trees and general signs of whether your elm tree is dying.

How Long Do Elm Trees Live?

The majority of the mature elm trees grow up to assume a lofty height of 30 meters and their average lifespan is one decade. Mature elm trees have a greyish brown bark that is often rough with fissures along the body.

You will also find suckers growing right from the trunk base. The twigs feature fine hair, and the buds are often pointed and possess external hairs.

How Many Species of Elm Tree are There?

Elm trees are typically known to possess 35 different species ranging from wild and forest-bred ones that grow abundantly in native. Some are also grown as ornamental plants that simply meet the purpose of looking pretty. In this section, we will discuss some of the most popular variants of elm trees:

American Elm

Popularly known as the national tree of North Dakota, you can never go wrong with the American elm because it is a quintessential classic. This tree is lofty, and it offers immense shade thanks to its vase-like spread that stretches up to 75 feet.

This tree primarily grows in the Northeastern parts of America between a two to nine growing zone. When mature, it can grow up to a whopping 90 feet. The tree requires consistent sunlight to thrive.

Cherry Bark elm

Native to the Himalayas, this is a beautiful elm tree with an impressive lifespan of 10 decades. The tree is massive and features multiple bushes all of which render a round shape to the structure. The bark is smooth, and the tree also features elliptical samaras as opposed to the round samaras you’ve probably seen in other elm trees.

Cherry barks are hardy, and they are immune to the common diseases that most elm trees are inflicted by. This tree grows in hardy regions ranging from four to eight and it can assume a maximum height of 80 feet.


This is yet another iconic elm tree variant that requires a specialized form of propagation via grafting. The tree belongs to the family of wych elms and is characterized by branches that twist and an extremely dense foliage structure. This creates an excellent area right below the elm.

You will find several elms, however, this one feature flatters that can assume a width taller than the overall height. With that said, you would need moist and well-draining soil for this plant to thrive.

This tree abundantly grows in the United Kingdom in hardiness zones ranging from five to seven. As with other elm variants, they require copious amounts of direct sunlight to thrive. The tree can assume a maximum height of 25 feet.

English Elm

This is yet another fast-growing variant of the elm tree that is known to grow by at least three feet annually. That is also the reason why the English are one of the tallest elm trees out there. The canopy of this tree stretches by 50 feet, and it has multiple species that primarily multiply through suckers.

The seeds of the English elm were abundantly used in the United Kingdom until the onset of the Dutch elm disease. The tree can withstand salty environments and pollution in urban landscapes. However, English trees do not boast strong wood which is why it is often the last choice for landscape trees.

The English elm primarily grows in parts of Western Europe in growing zones ranging from five to weight. When fully mature, they can assume a height of at least 130 feet.

How Fast Do Elm Trees Grow?

The growth rate of elm trees depends on their species. Chinese elms grow the fastest at 3 feet annually. On the contrary, Drake elms have a fairly slower growth rate, and they seldom assume a lofty height.

How Long Does an Elm Tree Take to Mature?

The rate at which the elm tree will mature depends on the species of the tree. Usually, a tree is only deemed mature when it can bear either or/and fruits and flowers. Usually, the trees that grow the fastest end up maturing before the others.

The biggest example would be the Chinese elm which has an impressive annual growth rate of three feet annually. However, the same tree needs at least two decades to fully mature. This is regardless of a decent rate of growth and maturity. But such is not the case with other variants of elm.

The longer the tree takes to grow, the longer it will take to mature.

How Big Do Elm Trees Get?

The final size of your elm tree will entirely depend on the species of the tree. For instance, we have the majestic English elm that can assume a height of 130 feet and an overall width of 50 feet.

In perfect juxtaposition stands the Frontier elm that only assumes a height and width of 30 feet. Thus, it is evident that the variant of the elm tree will play a crucial role in determining its overall size.

Among other parameters, you need to check the soil of the elm tree and make sure it is well-draining and moist. Next, give the trees ample sun exposure. If you cannot provide full exposure, make some arrangements for partial shade.

Once you follow these simple guidelines, you will find your elm tree growing faster than you thought. Just check the tree from time to time to ensure that its soil or water requirement is unchanged.

How Long Do Chinese Elm Trees Live?

If you plant the Chinese elm tree in an appropriate location and shower it with care, the tree will thrive between 50 and 150 years. Make sure it gets ample sunlight and follow all other instructions that came with the tree.

Even the bonsai variants of these trees exhibit a stellar lifespan if you maintain them with care.

How Fast Do Chinese Elm Trees Grow?

Chinese elms have an impressive growth span that is around three feet annually. When the tree is fully mature, it can assume a height between 60 and 80 feet. One of the biggest highlights of the tree is its iconic bark which comes loaded with exfoliating properties.

This tree grows in the shape of a vase and as with the English elm, this is yet another tree you want to plant in urban zones. It is susceptible to all common diseases including the Dutch elm disease. Even though the Chinese elm can withstand drought, it thrives best when the soil is moist. 

How Do I Know if My Elm Tree is Dying?

Elm trees are mostly hardy but, in some scenarios, they may end up dying due to various unrealized diseases. Common diseases include the Black leaf spot, the popular Dutch elm ailment, leaf spots, cankers, yellowing, and rotting roots among other conditions.

What is the Average Age of an Elm Tree?

On average, elm trees tend to have a lifespan of about 15 decades. Of course, this varies depending on the species of the elm tree. However, 100 to 150 years can be deemed a more than average lifespan.

Are Elm Trees Easy to Care For?

Most elm trees are quite simple to care for. They are adaptable and thrive well when the soil is moist. Interestingly enough, the tree won’t stop growing when the soil gets dry. While the growth may be affected, it will eventually resume as soon as you get some water.

Another interesting fact about elm trees is that they can withstand extremely dry environments. That is also one of the biggest reasons you will find them on the corners of urban streets. In case you are planning to care for an elm tree the first time, here are some pointers to help you out:

  • Make sure the tree receives ample mulch as it would enable the soil to carry moisture
  • If the young trees haven’t received ample water during the rainy season, make the effort to fertilize them during the spring months.
  • Look out for Dutch elm disease in your elm trees. For the uninitiated, this is a disease associated with the vascular wilt of the tree. It spreads quickly through the beetles of the bark which easily transmit the ailment from non-infected to infected plants.
  • If you want to avoid this condition in your trees, make sure you water them after every rainy season.
  • Next, you should prune your trees at least once a year.

If one of you follows these simple guidelines, caring for your elm will be easier and your tree will thrive for the longest time.

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About Rinkesh

A true environmentalist by heart ❤️. Founded Conserve Energy Future with the sole motto of providing helpful information related to our rapidly depleting environment. Unless you strongly believe in Elon Musk‘s idea of making Mars as another habitable planet, do remember that there really is no 'Planet B' in this whole universe.