Ginkgo Biloba

By March 31, 2017 No Comments

Two years ago I bought a small bonsai ‘Ginkgo Biloba’, also know as Ginkgo or ‘Maidenhair Tree’.  The story behind this species got me very interested and so I wanted to add this species to my collection.  My idea is to train this Ginkgo as a Shohin.

I heard that this species is very unique that means that it has no close relative that are still alive today.  It is said that this tree is one of the most ancient species still alive today.  Since it survived all these millions of years, exactly over 200 million years, since the Jurassic Period, it is known as a living fossil.

Today I decided to share with you some information I gathered about the Ginkgo Biloba.

I also did some research to have a better insight on this species mostly as a bonsai.  The first thing I found out is that the Ginkgo has medical properties, and that nowadays it is widely cultivated,  not just as a bonsai tree.


  1. A very unique fan-shaped leaves, having veins that radiant into the leaf blade.
  2. The leaves turn bright yellow and fall in a short time during the autumn season.
  3. The ginkgo produce a fruit that turns golden yellow when ripe.
  4. This species is very resistant to diseases.
  5. Very old Ginkgo trees have the ability to produce aerial roots and sprouts.
  6. This species has the capable to live for a long period of time, some are claimed tout ao be over 2500 years old.  This characteristic might be the reason why it is still around and without changing its DNA.

Ginkgo as Bonsai

Bonsai trees are a miniature of natural trees, and since they are potted in small pots, they are dependent on the bonsai person to maintain their health.  The more the bonsai tree matures, the nicer it looks.

    1. A Ginko bonsai is not a house plant but a living tree in miniature, so it needs to be placed in a cold environment during winter time.
    2. This will give the tree the necessary dormant season.
    3. No light is needed when the Ginkgo is dormant, so it could be placed in a shady area and protected from heavy sun and rain.
    4. Create a humid atmosphere during the dormant season.  Place a shallow tray, fill with water and some spacers so that the pot will not touch the water level.  This will system will permit moisture but prevent root rot.
    5. Place your Ginkgo bonsai outside in partial sun from spring to late autumn.
    6. Ginkgo bonsai can be brought inside for a short term (3-5 days).


Watering is very important, and it should be applied when the soil is drying out.

  1. Never allow completely dry soil.
  2. Quantity of water
  3. Frequent watering if the Ginkgo bonsai is placed for full day sun.
  4. Quantity is also determined by the pot size.  Smaller pots needs frequent watering.
  5. The type of soil also determines how frequent watering should be.
  6. Use a watering can that dispense soft running water.
  7. Water enough until it runs out through the drainage holes.
  8. No need to water on a rain day.  Rain water is sufficient.
  9. Water with Neutral Ph levels (5.5-7)


Fertilizing is necessary to replenish the soil’s nutrient supply.

  1. General-purpose liquid fertilizer works well. Read the instructions well and use less the recommended dose.
  2. Fertilizer once a month from spring to late autumn.
  3. Do not fertilize during the dormant season.
  4. Foliar fertilizer applied as spray is also recommended.

Training Ginkgo as Bonsai

  1. The Ginkgo has brittle trunk and branches, so wiring is not recommended.
  2. Trimming and pinching throughout the year is ideal to keep this species looks like a bonsai.
  3. To sustain the tree’s health, do not remove all of the new growth. A little should be left to sustain the health of the tree.


Re-potting is carried out to encourage a compact rooting system from the fresh soil.  It should be carried out periodically on all bonsai trees, and even on a Ginkgo bonsai.

As a rule, deciduous trees needs re-potting every two to three years, but different tree species re-potting should be done when the tree becomes pot-bound.  Re-potting Ginkgo bonsai should be carried out in mid-summer.

  1. Remove the tree from the pot.
  2. Rake the soil away.
  3. Prune the roots back.  Avoid pruning more than 25% of the root ball.
  4. Place a mesh over the drainage holes.
  5. Put a layer of small gravel in the bottom of the pot.  This will cover the drainage holes.
  6. Add a layer of fresh soil enough to position the tree in its proper position.
  7. Using a piece of wire, anchor the tree in position.
  8. Add more fresh soil around the tree.
  9. Work the fresh soil downwards using a chop stick to remove any air pockets.
  10. Water thoroughly when ready.


The Ginkgo species makes it slightly difficult to style it in various styles.

  1. The brittle and straight growing branches will not permit this tree to wire, since they are very delicate.
  2. If wire is needed, protect the bark with raffia and use aluminum wire, while bending attentively.
  3. The natural style of this species works best, avoiding difficult styles.
  4. A forest style might be one option to obtain optimum results.  This species can also be trained as a slanting style.


Another problem found in this species is that scars does not heal or they take a long time to heal, so avoid making scars while pruning.

  1. Never cut a branch close to a new bud, since Ginkgo will have a long die back and might kill the new buds.
  2. Protect the cut with latex liquid since the dry branch will have a small hole along it, were insects might lay their eggs and hide.
  3. Trim back to 2-3 leaves from spring time till the end of October.
  4. Regular trimming back to 2-3 leaves will not harm the tree.
  5. Make sure to have the topmost leaf on the outside of the branch.


  1. Young Ginkgo bonsai trees should be repotted annually on early spring just before new buds emerge.
  2. Avoid trimming the roots in the first years.
  3. Older trees should be repotted every 3-4 years or when they are root bound.
  4. Good drainage soil should be used.

Share this link if you liked this information.  We will be discussing other species in the coming future


Martin Abela

Author Martin Abela

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