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How to Grow a Ginkgo Tree

ginkgo leaves image by Vortigern69 from Fotolia.com

The maidenhair or ginkgo tree is the oldest known species of tree today. The tree can live up to 1,000 years and grow as high as 120 feet. Ginkgo is native to eastern China, but is hardy in zones 3 through 8a. The tree is also hardy in most soil types. Ginkgo can be grown from seeds, although female trees that produce the seed can sometimes be rare. The male tree is desired more because of the rancid smell that can come from the fruit of the female tree.

Wear gloves to collect the nuts of a female ginkgo tree in the fall if you have access to one. You can also buy ginkgo seeds from plant suppliers online.

Remove the pulpy outside of the nut to reveal the seed. Fill a plastic bag with two cups of peat moss and add enough water to just moisten the soil.

Put five ginkgo seeds into each bag of soil. Gently press your thumbs into the bag to mix the seeds into the soil. Place the bag in the vegetable crisper in your refrigerator for about two months. Your seeds will need to develop until mid-winter.

Remove your seeds from the refrigerator toward the end of winter or after they have been in the refrigerator for two months. Put your bag of seeds at room temperature for about three weeks to let them begin sprouting.

Fill 4-inch pots with equal parts potting soil and perlite. Remove a sprouted seed from your bag and plant it at a depth of 1/2 inch in the soil. Put one seed in each pot. Keep the soil moist each day.

Transplant your seedlings after a couple of months when the plants have become established in the pot. Add 8-8-8 fertilizer to the soil where you would like to transplant your tree. Ginkgo does well in areas with full sun or partial shade and well-drained soil. Remove the seedling from the pot by digging around the roots until you can loosen the plant from the soil.

Dig a hole large enough to bury the roots of your seedling. Firm the soil around the base of the tree once it is transplanted into the new spot. Water it each day to moisten the soil.

Tip

You can propagate a ginkgo tree by taking a softwood or semi-hardwood cutting in the early summer if you wish to control whether you get a male or female seedling.

Warning

Eating high doses of ginkgo seeds can cause poisoning.

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