Growth Facts

City Sprite® Japanese Zelkova

Zelkova serrata 'JFS-KW1' PP20,996
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Honey, I shrunk the Zelkova! City Sprite® is a much-reduced version of the elegant Japanese shade tree. The result is an adorable lollipop-shaped accent tree that fits into many landscapes where the original would loom too large. It grows quickly, making a sizable canopy in no time, and the growth is dense and compact without any pruning. What’s more, although City Sprite® is cute as a button, it’s also tough as nails. Heat and humidity, frigid winters (to -20°F), wind, de-icing salts, dry soils, compacted soils, alkaline soils, and air pollution are no problem for this tough, streetwise tree!

Growth Facts

The Story

The Japanese Zelkova is a stately forest tree native to Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and northeast China. It belongs to the Elm family and has a similar leaf and vase-like habit. Many arborists even recommend Zelkova as a replacement for the American Elm, because it offers a similar look and is resistant to Dutch Elm disease. City Sprite® was discovered by Keith Warren of J. Frank Schmidt Nursery in Boring, Oregon, in 2001. Warren examined thousands of Zelkova seedlings, looking for something different. Even as a young seedling, City Sprite® stood out from the rest with its compressed growth habit, and he knew he had something special. He patented it in 2008.

The Details

For many, the City Sprite® Japanese Zelkova would be worthy of a place in the landscape by virtue of its compact size and its toughness alone. However, this charmer has another great feature: awesome fall color! When the days turn cool and crisp, City Sprite’s bright green foliage becomes a wonderful, luminous yellow.

How to Grow

City Sprite® Japanese Zelkova is an easy-to-please tree that all gardeners will succeed with, provided its few simple needs are met. Plant this tree in a sunny location, as shade will cause it to lose its nice, tight habit. It isn’t picky about soil, but it doesn’t like “wet feet”—excess water must drain away after a rain. Irrigate with the Bower & Branch Elements™ Watering System during the establishment period to help your tree develop a strong root system. It will be relatively drought tolerant in subsequent years. City Sprite® responds to an annual fertilization with our Bower & Branch Elements™ Fertilizer. Pruning will seldom be necessary, and pests and diseases are of no concern.

Size Guide

Size Guide Scale


Size: B

Size B

Size: C

Size C

This graphic shows the approximate size and form of the Tree you are viewing.

Size B Trees:

8-10' tall. Grown in our #15 tree container in this size. Stem caliper 1 1/2". Limbed up high for street tree planting. Excellent canopy and structure.

Size C Trees:

10-12' Tall Grown in our #20 or #25 tree container. A great tree for your landscape.

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