A genus of one species of coniferous tree from South China, Gingko bonsai is extinct in the wild but preserved as an ornamental tree particularly in Temple gardens in China and Japan. It is a distinct conifer with fan-shaped leaves and foul-smelling fruits and is believed to bring some health benefits
Origin of the Gingko Bonsai
Originating in Japan, this tree can easily live up to 100 years or more. Called “Chichi Icho” in the native country, which means “breast” or “nipple”, the plant is a reverenced tree. However, this ancient tree also makes an excellent Gingko bonsai. Most people have heard of Gingko Biloba associated with health foods. It is also believed to produce antioxidants that help make cells healthier. In eastern cultures, the Ginkgo tree is considered the “Fountain of Youth” plant, which helps to improve memory and overall health.
The leaves of this tree are two-lobed, flat and fan-shaped, making them unique. It has a mid-to-yellow or green color and in the fall, they turn into a beautiful butter yellow color. A fruit is also produced by the Gingko bonsai, which is yellow when ripe and grows in clusters. It is fleshy, has unpleasant-smelling odor and contains edible nuts. Mature specimens can reach a height of 30 meters. When grown as bonsai, this form of bonsai will grow to about 16 inches tall around age six.
Pruning the Gingko bonsai plant produces scars that do not heal. Therefore, it is advised not to cut any large branches. The best time to prune this is in the spring and fall at which time the clusters of leaves should be reduced to about two to three leaves, keeping the topmost leaf on the outside. Then, any new branches should be cut back to two or three buds when the tree is young. Not much wiring will be required for making it a bit easier to maintain.
In addition, young Gingko bonsai trees, which would be up to 10 years of age, should be repotted once a year during early spring. The best time is just prior to any new leaves appearing. On the other hand, for older trees, those over the age of 10, you can repot the conifer every two to three years as required. This type of bonsai thrives well in basic soil but will flourish when using a well draining soil. Add approximately 10% coarse sand along with some grit for best results.
Air layering from large branches can be used to propagate the tree. The result will be a decent plant in about three years. Finally, the Gingko bonsai can be styled in various ways but it is best to keep the natural shape. Because the leaves are large and stiff, it works well with the broom style. You can do a little wiring to maintain balance and symmetry. Feed the tree twice a month. This form of plant does best when the soil remains fairly dry.
Gingko bonsai has many health attributes. Gingko biloba, among the many species, is in fact, being manufactured and commercialized making it very popular in the market. With enough skills, knowledge as well as paying utmost care and attention, this plant will surely grow maturely and will contribute to a healthy life.