Ginkgo Bonsai (ginkgo biloba), the maidenhair tree, care and information
Ginkgo biloba are deciduous prehistoric trees once thought to be extinct until rediscovered in China. Teris Andre van Beek states, “Botanical and historical data suggest that the tree has survived because of the protection afforded by humans” (529). So there is some debate as to whether or not there are any truly wild ginkgo left. However, most do agree there are Ginkgo remaining in the wild in “east China, the West Tienmushan mountains, Zhejiang province, the southern mountainous area and the Dabieshan mountains” (Andre van Beek, 529). Fortunately for the ginkgo its popularity in bonsai and landscaping should keep it from ever becoming close to extinction.
The ginkgo is a very distinctive tree which makes it great for bonsai. Its fan shaped leaves consisting of two lobes turn bright golden yellow in fall. It has been referred to as the tree of forty gold crowns. Ginkgo are also known as the maidenhair tree because their leaves resemble that of the maidenhair fern. Even with typical bonsai leaf pruning and defoliation techniques the leaves of the ginkgo biloba will not reduce in size very much so for proper perspective one should use them in kifu, medium, and dai, large, bonsai instead of mame. Female trees tend to develop a wider crown whereas male ginkgo trees tend to be slimmer. Male trees are normally used in landscaping because the fruit of the female trees have a foul odor. This is less of a problem in bonsai because they rarely fruit when grown as bonsai.
Ginkgo does well as an outdoor bonsai because of its adaptability. It does well in full to partial sun. It is not as picky as some bonsai about what kind of soil you pot it in. A basic bonsai soil that is well draining and retains moisture works best. They are hardy in USDA zones 3 to 8A and can grow fine in the compact conditions of a bonsai pot. Ginkgo are much more tolerant of drought than other bonsai trees and they are not prone to any pests.
It will do best in a deeper bonsai pot instead of a shallow one. If you live in an area where freezing temperatures are possible mica pots may be preferred as their roots are sensitive to freezing and mica pots do better at promoting stable soil temperatures. The roots need to be protected from freezing because they hold a large amount of moisture there. In areas where freezing weather is possible you can bury the bonsai pot at level with the ground and cover the surface with mulch. This will shield the soil in the bonsai pot from temperature extremes.