By Jennifer Poindexter
One of the most common supplements found on grocery store or pharmacy shelves is ginkgo biloba. Do you know where this supplement comes from?
Ginkgo biloba is a tree. It’s native to China, but is grown in different areas of the world due to its long life, shade, beauty, and benefits.
If you’re interested in learning more about growing a ginkgo biloba tree, you’re in the right spot. I’m going to walk you through the basics, so you’ll have a solid foundation to build from should you decide to add this tree to your landscape.
Here’s what you should know when learning how to grow ginkgo biloba trees:
What You’ll Learn
- The origins and characteristics of the ginkgo biloba tree
- Ideal growing conditions for ginkgo biloba trees, including soil and climate preferences
- How to plant a ginkgo biloba tree from both a sapling and through propagation by cutting
- Tips for caring for a young ginkgo biloba tree, including watering and pruning recommendations
- The resilience of ginkgo biloba trees to pests and diseases
- Possible uses for ginkgo biloba trees, including a note on how the supplements are made and safety considerations
Growing Conditions for Ginkgo Biloba Trees
Ginkgo biloba trees are deciduous plants known for various things. One reason why people love these trees so much is that they produce vibrant colors during the fall.
During the warmer months, this tree is known for providing much needed shade. They’re also great when grown near the ocean or in a city as ginkgo biloba trees can withstand sea salt and air pollution.
Ginkgo biloba trees go by the name maidenhair trees and are mainly grown for ornamental purposes. However, with proper care, these trees can live as long as 1,000 years.
Be mindful that it can take ginkgo biloba up to twenty years to reach maturity. You should also pay attention to the gender of the tree you plant.
Female ginkgo biloba trees produce ovules which are known for providing an unpleasant scent at times. However, females produce the seeds.
Yet, if you struggle with allergies, the male trees are the pollen producers of the two types. Take these points into consideration when deciding which ginkgo biloba trees are right for you.
Now that you have basic information about this type of tree, let’s discuss what it requires in a growing location. Ginkgo biloba trees thrive in areas with at least six hours of direct sunlight each day.
They also prefer areas with soil that’s both sandy and well-draining. The growing medium needs to hold necessary moisture but allow excess water to drain away quickly.
Expect ginkgo biloba trees to reach heights around 50 feet tall and up to 30 feet wide. Plan on providing adequate spacing if you wish to grow multiple trees.
You should also take the tree’s size into consideration when deciding how close to plant it near a structure. Finally, expect ginkgo biloba trees to remain hardy in planting zones four through nine.
If you wish to add a ginkgo biloba tree to your landscape, ensure you take this plant’s needs into consideration. This information could help your tree build a foundation for a long life.
How to Plant a Ginkgo Biloba Tree
There are two common methods of planting a ginkgo biloba tree. The first method is to purchase a sapling.
If this is your chosen method, once the tree is purchased, get ready to plant it in an ideal growing location which meets the specifications described above.
Dig a hole in this location and add a slow-release fertilizer to the hole prior to planting. From there, place the tree in the hole.
Ensure it’s deep enough to support the tree’s root system. Fill a five-gallon bucket with water and pour half of it into the hole.
Then backfill the hole halfway. Pour the remaining water into the hole. Finish backfilling it and press firmly around the base.
Be prepared, your foot will get muddy. Once this is complete, watch the tree in its earliest stages. You may add a stake to encourage the tree to grow upright if you feel it’s needed.
Yet, beware of anything used to connect the stake and the tree. If left on too long, it can lead to tree girdling which can lead to the death of your tree.
The other method of growing a ginkgo biloba tree is propagation by cutting. If you have access to a mature ginkgo biloba tree you may be able to utilize this method.
Begin by taking a six-inch cutting from the tree in late spring or early summer. The cutting should be taken from a male tree.
Dip the cutting in rooting hormone and plant it in a container that’s well-draining and is filled with well-draining, nutritious soil.
Wrap the container in plastic and ensure the soil remains evenly damp. The plastic should create a greenhouse effect in the earliest stages.
As the cutting develops roots and the plant begins to grow, you may remove the plastic from the container.
Continue providing care to the young tree and move it to a larger container as needed. You should allow your tree to grow in a container in a protected space with bright light for up to four years.
The idea is for the tree to be as strong as possible at the time of transplant to encourage a better chance of survival.
Once the tree is ready to be moved outdoors, you’ll transplant it using the same steps as described above for a purchased plant.
These are the methods for adding a ginkgo biloba tree to your landscape. Pick the method which most closely aligns with your situation and plant a new tree for your space.
Caring for a Ginkgo Biloba Tree
Any tree that lives up to 1,000 years can’t be high-maintenance. If this is your thought process, you’d be correct.
This tree needs support from you after the time of transplant until it becomes well-established in its growing space.
For the first year or two, ensure you provide your ginkgo biloba tree with deep watering sessions. This encourages a deep root system which leads to a healthier tree.
After your tree is proving that it’s established, it should receive all it needs from the rain provided in nature.
The ginkgo biloba tree is slightly drought-tolerant. However, if you’re experiencing times of severe drought be sure to water your tree.
Be mindful that ginkgo biloba trees aren’t good candidates for climates that are hot and dry such as a desert.
It’s wise to mulch around the base of your tree. Be sure to spread the mulch along the ground and don’t pile it up the tree trunk.
This is called volcano mulching and leads to disease and rot within your tree. It’s hurtful instead of helpful, so do apply mulch with caution.
However, if applied correctly, mulch can help the soil retain moisture and require less watering from you in the initial years after planting.
Finally, you should prune your ginkgo biloba tree in late winter. This is a time to remove any part of the tree that’s dead, broken, or twisted.
These are the few steps you should take to provide optimal care to your ginkgo biloba tree.
Garden Pests and Diseases Which Can Impact a Ginkgo Biloba Tree
Another reason why the ginkgo biloba tree lives such a long life is because the tree is both disease and pest resistant.
It doesn’t typically encounter disease which hinders its growth or overall health. Ginkgo biloba trees have a built-in defense system against pests as well.
The tree produces an acid that kills both insects and their larvae which keeps pests under control throughout the tree’s life.
Therefore, you shouldn’t be too concerned with pests or diseases when growing a ginkgo biloba tree.
How to Use Ginkgo Biloba Trees
The last thing we should discuss about growing ginkgo biloba trees is how to utilize them. If you’re growing this tree for more than its beauty and shade, how else is it functional?
The ginkgo biloba supplement is an extract made from the leaves of the tree. It’s made using a similar process to that of making vanilla extract.
The process involves soaking the leaves in alcohol and pulling the useful elements from the plant. Please do thorough research and speak with your doctor prior to making your own ginkgo biloba extracts.
It’s important to note that the leaves of ginkgo biloba trees are toxic to both people and pets. Utilize this plant with caution and ensure you plant it in an area that no pets, livestock, or small children can accidentally consume the leaves.
You now know what it takes to add a ginkgo biloba tree to your yard or other landscaping areas. This tree is both functional and beautiful.
Granted, ginkgo biloba trees aren’t an ideal fit for every area. If you have the room, there are plenty of valid reasons to add this beautiful piece of history to your surroundings.
- Ginkgo Biloba Origins: The ginkgo biloba tree, also known as the maidenhair tree, is native to China and is known for its long lifespan, reaching up to 1,000 years. It is prized for its beauty and shade, as well as its resilience to various environmental factors.
- Growing Conditions: These trees thrive in sunny spots with well-draining, sandy soil. They are suitable for planting in hardiness zones 4 to 9.
- Planting Methods: You can plant ginkgo biloba trees using a sapling or via propagation from a cutting. Both methods require a suitable planting site and careful attention to the tree’s early development to ensure a strong, healthy tree.
- Caring for Your Tree: Initially, young trees need deep watering sessions to establish a healthy root system. After becoming established, they generally require minimal maintenance, save for regular pruning to remove dead or damaged branches.
- Disease and Pest Resistance: One of the remarkable features of ginkgo biloba trees is their built-in defense system against most common pests and diseases, making them relatively low-maintenance from this perspective.
- Utilizing Your Tree: Beyond the aesthetic and shading benefits, ginkgo biloba leaves can be used to create supplements; however, caution is advised due to the leaves’ toxicity to humans and pets. It is recommended to consult with a healthcare provider before attempting to create extracts from the leaves.