Q. I’m a Las Vegas resident and just bought a house in the Desert Shores community. I had a question with regards to a couple deciduous trees that I really like and are said to grow/survive in USDA zones 4-9 which Las Vegas is considered zones 8a-9b but in the Sunset Western Garden Book, Las Vegas is zone 11 because the heat index is part of the equation. Will the Tulip Poplar and Ginkgo Biloba thrive in our climate with proper planting care, adequate watering, good drainage and a slow release fertilizer or would they eventually die anyway, becoming heat stressed and succumb to disease/ insect problems????
Information on Gingko from Wikipedia
Information on the tulip tree from Wikipedia
A. It is hard to make sweeping generalizations but why in the world would you pick those two trees for here in the desert? Both, if they would grow to maturity are very large trees. They would consumer enormous amounts of water just due to their sheer size. They are out of their ideal habitat so they would require a great deal of care IF they would make it to maturity which I would rather doubt.
There is at least one example of a gingko in Las Vegas growing on the campus of UNLV on the north side of the old Biology building. It is growing slowly and an oddity which is why they probably planted it on the campus in the first place. I didn’t mean that UNLV is odd but that it does house an arboretum on its campus so this is a good place to grow these kinds of things.
I would have to guess on the tulip tree since I am sure someone has tried to grow it but I have no information on how it would do here. I would guess much of it would have to do with how it was planted, cared for and the microclimate.
Heat tolerance is kind of a relative thing. Much of tolerance to adverse conditions, like any organism, has to do with its general health. If the plant is kept healthy, it can handle a lot more adversity than if it is sick.
Just because of its sheer size, and the fact it is not native to arid and desert climates, at some point will do it in. Pest problems are not a factor for gingko since it is relatively pest free.
With so many other really good plants out there I would pick something more suitable to our desert climate unless you want to babysit them for the rest of their lives.