Ginkgo biloba, commonly known in the gardening world by many different names including the Maidenhair tree, Ginkgo, or Gingko, is a marvellous species of anyone must see at least once in our life, whether it is in reality or in a picture.
As beautiful as it can be, Ginkgo biloba is a member of the Ginkgoaceae family of plants and, there is no surprise here, it is also the most representative species for this family of plants.
Ginkgo biloba originates from China and has a history like no other species out there. This tree is the only surviving member of the Ginkgoales, a group of ancient plants believed to have inhabited our beloved Earth over 270 million years ago.
This spectacular species was very common early in human history and still remains super popular in cultivation nowadays, with some specimens living up to 3000 years.
Want to know more about the Ginkgo biloba tree before adding it to your garden? Keep reading our guide to find out the most curious facts about this exquisite tree and even how to grow, care for, and propagate it!
About Ginkgo Biloba
- The Ginkgo biloba tree surprises us with several varieties to choose from. They come in different sizes, shapes, and foliage colours. The most spectacular varieties of Ginkgo include ‘Autumn Gold’, ‘Fairmont’, ‘Majestic Butterfly’, ‘Tubifolia’, ‘Mariken’, ‘Peve Maribo’, ‘Fastigiata’, ‘Princeton Sentry’, ‘Saratoga’, and ‘Pendula’.
- The common name of the Ginkgo biloba tree “maidenhair” refers to the stunning fan shape of its leaves. This particular shape reminds most people of the Maidenhair fern a.k.a. Adiantum species.
- The wood of the Ginkgo biloba tree decays very slowly and is fire-resistant. It is a popular component in the manufacture of furniture, carving, chessboards, and casks for making sake.
- The nuts found inside the seeds of the Ginkgo biloba tree are a traditional Chinese food and are particularly appreciated in Asia. People use it in congee and serve it often at special occasions throughout the year, such as the Chinese New Year or weddings.
- The Ginkgo biloba tree plays an important part in traditional Chinese medicine. Many folks used its seeds, leaves, and nuts as a treatment for ailments like dementia, bronchitis, asthma, bladder disorders, and kidney problems.
- Even if the Ginkgo biloba leaves appear marketed as cognitive enhancers, there is no evidence of beneficial effects on attention or memory in healthy people. Likewise, there was no evidence for effectiveness in treating other problems rather than helping a bit in dementia or schizophrenia.
- Using Ginkgo biloba supplements excessively can bring unpleasant side effects. Moreover, the seeds from the female Ginkgo biloba trees, like the leaves, can be pretty toxic to humans and animals if ingested. Make sure you keep this tree out of your kids’ or pets’ reach.
- This buddy is a wonderful specimen plant. It can add lots of ornamental value to various landscape uses, such as city gardens, cottage gardens, informal gardens, courtyards, meadows, prairies, and also pots while young.
- The Ginkgo biloba tree makes for a fabulous companion plant for other interesting and colourful species. The most suitable companions are Abies concolor ‘Candicans’, Burning Bush, Cornus sanguinea ‘Anny’s Winter Orange’, and Smokebush.
- The Ginkgo biloba is the official tree of Tokyo, the capital of Japan, and the ginkgo leaf is the symbol of this city. The symbol of the Urasenke school of Japanese tea ceremony is also the ginkgo leaf.
Ginkgo Biloba Features: An Overview
- This plant belongs to the Ginkgo genus, being the only remaining member of it. Ginkgo biloba is also the sole surviving species of this genus.
- Ginkgo biloba is a large, deciduous species of tree with an overall angular crown. This conifer can reach from 25 to 115 feet (7-35 m) in height and about 25 to 35 feet (7-10 m) in width.
- This tree features long and somewhat erratic branches. It usually appears deeply rooted. Most often, the young Ginkgo biloba specimens are pretty tall, and slender, and show up sparsely branched.
- The foliage is the main attraction of the Ginkgo biloba tree. It consists of numerous unique-looking, fan-shaped leaves. They come along in a rich green shade but turn an eye-catching golden-yellow colour once autumn comes.
- The Ginkgo biloba trees have separate sexes, with some of them being male and others being female. You can distinguish the two types through particular characteristics. Likewise, the female Ginkgo biloba trees are more likely to find in nurseries, markets, or garden shops. Interestingly enough, the Ginkgo tree is technically a conifer, so the male part looks quite similar to a tiny cone.
- A particularity of female ginkgo trees is their tendency to send up slender green shoots along with the new leaves. The stinky seeds for which the Ginkgo tree is famous are produced only on female trees. Ginkgo seeds appear in the fall. Male trees, on the other hand, do not produce seeds but do release pollen in spring and fertilize females.
- The male trees, unlike the female ones, produce small pollen cones. The female trees bear two ovules at the end of a stalk, with at least one of them developing into seeds after wind pollination.
- Ginkgo biloba may bloom throughout the spring months. During this season, the tree can exhibit several lovely green flowers in clusters.
Growing Ginkgo Biloba
Before getting into more details about the art of growing and caring for a Ginkgo biloba tree, you should know an important fact about this buddy. As mentioned earlier, this plant can occur in both female and male specimens that come along with different features.
The specific characteristic of each type of Ginkgo biloba can help you find out which one is better to add to your garden. And you will immediately see why!
The Ginkgo biloba trees that can be particularly messy are none other than the female ones. Unlike the male specimens, the female Ginkgo biloba trees shed fleshy seeds that are also stinky.
These seeds are slippery fruit-like products that can make you spend more time on the caring routine of your Ginkgo biloba tree, as you will have to clean up after it. This makes the female Ginkgo biloba trees a bit unwanted in most gardeners’ collections and, trust us, it will surely be the case for you.
The great news is that you can distinguish these two from the very first moment, as the male trees feature small cone-like structures from a very young age. Luckily, you will see the cones on those specimens available for sale. And the best thing is that garden shops in your area may not even have female Ginkgo biloba trees in stock.
Once you find the perfect Ginkgo biloba for your garden, we can talk about how easy it is to grow it and care for it. In terms of lighting conditions, this tree will not bother you with its picky nature. It can grow nicely in absolutely any type of exposure ranging from full sunlight to partial shade.
Temperature-wise, Ginkgo biloba will have the time of its life in the USDA zones 4 to 9 even during the winter months. Given its tolerance to a wide range of temperatures, you will not encounter any problem with your tree as long as you grow it in its hardiness areas.
Keep in mind, though, that Ginkgo biloba is not as handy in hot and dry climates. It may survive in these particular weather conditions but you will have to pay a little extra attention to moisture.
The Ginkgo biloba tree is highly popular in cultivation thanks to its longevity and resistance to most fungal diseases and pest infestations. You will not have to worry about intruders bothering this plant and neither to think about diseases that may occur without any plausible reason.
- HIGH ORNAMENTAL. Ginkgo biloba trees are attractive enough to be used as wonderful shade trees, specimen plants (including amazing bonsai) and street trees in your landscaping, particularly because of their golden fall foliage color.
- HISTORY. Ginkgo biloba is the oldest living tree species, it has remained on earth about 200 million years. A gingko tree can live for more than 1,000 years.
- USDA HARDINESS ZONE. Ginkgo biloba is a beautiful, showy and delicate exotic colorful tree grown in 4-9(USDA).
- GREAT GIFT FOR FAMILIES. It is fun to plant it with your family. When the ginkgo tree matures, you can enjoy the beautiful trees and share delicious fruits with families.
- SOW. Plant seeds shallowly, until just covered. Cover the container with a clear plastic bag and place in a warm location. Keep the medium moderately moist. Expect germination in 30 to 60 days.
- Common name: Ginko Tree
- 12-18" in height
- Hardy in zones 3-8
- AZ & CA orders will be shipped bare root only
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Last update on 2023-08-23 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Planting Ginkgo Biloba
Choosing the ideal planting soil for your Ginkgo biloba will not be a fuss at all since this tree does not come along with very specific demands. It can do well in both alkaline and acidic substrates and will not show any dissatisfaction if it grows in compacted soil.
If you want to spoil your Ginkgo biloba, however, you should plant it in sandy or loamy soil that features very sharp drainage and a pH between 5.0 and 8.0.
The only time you will need to fertilize your Ginkgo biloba tree will be when in its youth. The young Ginkgo biloba will be grateful for some spring feeding once every year until it reaches maturity.
Make sure you feed this plant with a tree fertilizer following the label instructions you can find on the product. Once mature, you can forget about fertilizing your Ginkgo biloba for good and use that extra free time for yourself. Absolutely easy-going!
Although the young Ginkgo biloba tree may seem narrow at first, it will become a bit wide as it ages. After all, this species does not have the reputation of a shade tree for nothing! When this tree grows much wider than you might want, this is the perfect time for you to take action and prune it as it deserves.
Pruning is an excellent way to slow down this process and will even help you keep your plant in shape and maintain a fresh, healthy picture for it.
Watering Ginkgo Biloba
The frequency of watering your Ginkgo biloba tree will vary depending on different environmental and growing conditions like sunlight, temperatures, soil type, or humidity levels. In general, the amount of moisture this tree receives is most important during its first years.
In its youth, the Ginkgo biloba tree will need water whenever its soil feels dr y to the touch. But once it reaches maturity, this companion becomes relatively tolerant of drought. If you live in a location with regular rainfalls, you can already check the watering from its caring routine as done.
Propagating Ginkgo Biloba
Some sources say that it is possible to grow your own Ginkgo biloba tree from seed. However, we would not recommend you do it as it requires too much time and effort on your part and the results may not even satisfy you.
If you want to make more Ginkgo biloba trees, do not get discouraged. Although starting new trees from seed is not necessarily a viable option, you can always propagate this beauty through stem cuttings. And since this is a tree, you will have plenty of propagation material from its luxurious branches. Just wait to see how fun this process is, gardener!
First things first, you must wait for the spring to gift you with its warmth before you begin all of this. In May or June, go to your Ginkgo biloba tree and take as many stem cuttings as you need from it. Make sure each stem cutting measures about 6 inches (15 cm) in length and use only young wood from a male Ginkgo biloba tree. If you want to share the experience of having this buddy around with your close family members or friends, you can take some extra cuttings to also increase your chances of rewards.
Once you have enough stem cuttings, fill a 4-inch (10 cm) container with potting mix for each cutting you want to propagate. Water the substrate until it becomes evenly moist, then plant each cutting in its individual pot.
It would be wise to dip the cut ends of your Ginkgo biloba cuttings in rooting hormone before planting them for faster root development. You can also plant more cuttings in a container one inch (2.5 cm) apart from another, but this will result in extra work for you in the future.
Place the containers outdoors in a spot where the Ginkgo biloba cuttings can receive lots of bright and indirect light. Try to water the soil regularly to maintain it constantly damp without soggy outcomes. When the roots of the Ginkgo biloba cuttings start to grow out of the drain holes, this is a sign for you to transplant the cuttings into bigger pots.
You must allow them to grow in their new pots for a while, about a couple of seasons, before planting them outdoors directly into the ground.
The Ginkgo biloba tree has a rich history and it is the type of garden companion that will stay by your side all your life with minimal effort on your part. The longevity of this beautiful tree, combined with its low-demanding style, makes it a wonderful friend and a must-have for sunny days. After all, what can be more pleasant than spending your summer days under the shade of your loyal Ginkgo biloba tree? And not only this summer but all summers from now on!
Are you growing Ginkgo biloba? Share your experience in the comments section!