First discovered in eastern China, the Ginkgo plant is just as unique as it is ancient. One of the last holdouts from prehistoric times, this plant is the perfect bonsai specimen. In fact, it dates back nearly 270 million years and is considered one of the world’s few living fossils.
With a little bit of care and attention to its specific needs, this plant is not only easy to grow, but offers growers a variety of benefits.
Interesting Facts about Ginkgo Bonsai
Sunlight: Full sun to partial shade
Flowering Time Length: Produces false flowers and cones after 20 years of growth
Lifespan: 100+ years
Scientific name: Ginkgo biloba
Common names: ginkgo, gingko, maidenhair tree
Types of Ginkgo Biloba
There is only one type of Ginkgo bonsai tree. Technically, it’s the bonsai cultivar of the Ginkgo biloba tree.
When not grown as a bonsai specimen, the tree grows large, up to 115 feet, in many cases. There are some ancient specimens in China that are more than 160 feet tall!
Growing Ginkgo Bonsai from Seed or By Propagation
Most Ginkgo bonsai plants are purchased as stock from nurseries. You can grow the plant from seed, but this is a painstaking process that will require a lot of time and dedication.
Many nurseries grow the plant as a male cultivar that’s grafted onto a plant propagated from seed. The reason for this is to prevent the foul-smelling seeds that are often produced from regularly grown plants.
How To Care For Ginkgo Bonsai
Ginkgo Bonsai is a deciduous tree that will lose its leaves during the winter. It can be grown in full sun or partial shade, but know that growing it in full sun will increase its foliar color and make it more vibrant.
Protect your tree from severe or prolonged bouts of freezing. This plant’s frost sensitivity is one of the main reasons why it’s best grown as a container bonsai plant.
Most climates are simply too harsh for this plant to be grown outdoors, especially during the winter. Freezing will cause the roots to expand with water from the forest. They can then burst and kill the plant.
To prevent this, make sure you bring your plant inside during cold weather. Keep the soil dry during cold periods to prevent frost damage.
You can water your Ginkgo bonsai every day. The soil and the tree’s roots should be kept moist at all times. You can mist the foliage on a regular basis, too, as some humidity is necessary to keep the leaves healthy.
Fertilize your Ginkgo bonsai twice a month. This may seem like a lot, but container-grown plants tend to leach nutrients more readily than those grown in the ground. You will want to fertilize once in the spring or mid-summer and then once more in early fall (September to October).
To fertilize, use a general granular fertilizer that is well-balanced, like an 8-8-8. Before fertilizing, be sure to water just under the canopy of the tree.
Potting and Repotting
Ginkgo bonsai will likely be shipped to you in an eight-inch pot. You can grow it in a container that is slightly larger and, in fact, as it grows, you may need to report it once every two to three years into a larger container.
Repotting can be done as often as once per year, ideally in late winter or early spring.
In your container, make sure you implement a well-draining medium. Ginkgo bonsai can grow in sand, clay, loam, or light soil, but sandy soil will provide the most ideal growing conditions.
Pruning a Ginkgo Bonsai
Pruning your Ginkgo bonsai will allow it to grow into its desired bonsai shape. It should be pruned in the late spring for the best results. You can cut back old shoots along with dying branches, but make sure you use sharp, sanitized gardening shears to do so.
Pests and Diseases
Ginkgo is resistant to just about every kind of pest and disease. It is readily attacked by fungal disease or insects, especially if appropriate care is provided.
Where to Buy Ginkgo Bonsai
Ginkgo bonsai can be purchased from many online and brick and mortar nurseries. It is generally sold to growers when it’s about four to six years old.
Usually, it will be shipped or sold in an eight-inch ceramic pot. You may need to repot the plant upon its arrival. The tree’s shape can vary depending on its age and cultivation.