Frontier Elm (Ulmus parvifolia ‘Frontier’)

Frontier Elm (Ulmus parvifolia ‘Frontier’)

One of the best trees to put on a street or in a front yard is the Frontier elm. A rather small tree that resulted from cross-breeding the European elm with the Chinese one, the Frontier elm is remarkable because of its bright red to purple fall foliage. It is also resistant to DED, a common disease of elms.

The Frontier elm also has a rather unique story that makes it quite attractive to arborists. It's one of a few trees that resulted by crossing a spring flowering tree with an autumn-flowering one.

The Frontier elm has a vase-shaped canopy and a slender, smooth trunk with grey bark. It’s a very attractive tree, suitable for both rustic and modern garden styles. It has small, oval-shaped leaves with a glossy surface. It rarely produces flowers and seeds, its foliage being the main center of attraction.

How to Grow and Care for a Frontier Elm

Because of its very short history, since the 1990s until now, the maximum height range for the Frontier elm tree is not yet established. The cultivars observed so far have reached 30-40 feet in height, spreading horizontally over 20 to 30 feet.

It is not only resistant to elm-specific diseases, but also to relatively poor conditions. It can withstand drought, salty air, and full sun. It thrives in moist, well-drained soil and warmer climates, which is why it’s a good choice for the Southern zones of the US, such as California.

Watering regularly, especially before the tree has established its root system, is very important. Pruning is not needed most of the time, but fertilizing should be done before the new Spring growth occurs. If you want to plant Frontier elms in a row, keep a distance of at least 18 feet between the trees.


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