The Ginkgo is a deciduous tree with fan shaped leaves and a columnar silhouette. The tree is indigenous to China and is considered a living fossil, dating back 270 million years.

The largest and oldest Ginkgo trees are found in China, some of them are more than 40 m (130ft) tall and approximately 4,000 years old. The Ginkgo is dioecious, which means there are male and female trees. The ripe fruits of the female Ginkgos have a very unpleasant smell. Ginkgo bonsai hardly ever bear fruit, so this is not of much importance. The Ginkgo is deciduous and in autumn, before the leaves fall, they turn brightly yellow. Ginkgos are robust, can grow in diverse soils and places and tolerate pollution. For these characteristics they are often planted along busy streets in big cities.

If you need help identifying your tree, try our Bonsai tree identification guide.



Specific Bonsai care guidelines for the Ginkgo

Position: Place the Ginkgo outside all year round. It prefers a sunny position but young trees are better placed in semi-shade. The Ginkgo can endure frost but when it is planted in a bonsai pot the rootball should be protected from very low temperatures.

Watering: Ginkgos need much water from spring to autumn but must not be overwatered. Keep them slightly moist in winter.

Fertilizing: Begin with fertilizing when the buds begin to open. Use high nitrogen fertilizer in spring to make the tree grow long shoots. Otherwise especially older Ginkgo bonsai might only produce leaves on short shoots and the ramification will not improve. Use liquid fertilizer every week until the leaves turn yellow in autumn. Solid organic fertilizer can also be used.

Pruning and wiring: New long shoots should be shortened to one or two leaves when five or six have grown. Larger cut wounds don't heal well. Use cut paste and, if possible, avoid producing large wounds. Ginkgo trees can be wired at any time of the year. Take care not to damage the soft bark of the branches and twigs with the wire.

Repotting: Younger trees can be repotted every year in spring, older ones every two to five years. Don't prune the roots too heavily. A standard soil mix is fine, but it must be well-draining.

Propagation: The Ginkgo tree can be propagated from seeds and cuttings. Air-layering is also possible.

Pests and diseases: The Ginkgo is very resistant and is hardly ever attacked by insects or fungal diseases.

For more detailed information on these techniques, try our Bonsai tree care section.



Ginkgo, Maidenhair tree (Ginkgo biloba)

Ginkgo Bonsai