One of our oldest plant species, Ginkgo biloba can be propagated from cuttings, grafting, or seed. The first two methods result in plants much quicker, but the process of growing ginkgo trees from seed is an experience not to be missed. The trees don’t technically produce a seed, but females develop fruit which are pollinated by male trees. You need to get your hands on an ovule, or naked seed, from the fruit for ginkgo seed propagation. Continue reading for tips on how to plant ginkgo seeds.
Ginkgo Seed Propagation
Ginkgo trees have elegant, unique leaves and are the source of important eastern medicine. Can you grow ginkgo trees from seed? You can, but you need to provide certain conditions to ensure germination.
First, you need to source a female plant and gather some fruit. To increase the chances of success, acquire several. They look a bit like a small yellowish plum and, when ripe, will litter the ground around a mature female tree in October to November.
Wear gloves as you pick them up because the fleshy exterior causes contact dermatitis. Overly ripe ovules will have a very bad odor but can still be used. Inside the pulpy exterior is a nut-like shell. You will need to clean off the pulp to get to this “seed.”
Place seeds in baggies with a bit of moist peat moss and store somewhere warm, but not hot, for six weeks.
Tips on Germinating Ginkgo Seeds
Ginkgo trees and their dropped fruit experience true winters where they are native. That means your seeds need to have the same cold exposure. After seeds have sat in the bags for the allotted time, move them to the refrigerator for at least three months. This stratification process will allow dormancy in the embryo to break so germination can occur. You can also moisten sand and pot up the seeds, placing the containers outside for winter.
Once the allotted time has elapsed, remove the seeds and rub them with sandpaper or an emery board. Some growers recommend soaking the seed in a 3% solution of hydrogen peroxide but this is not necessary if you use clean, sterile pots and medium.
How to Plant Ginkgo Seeds
Use either moistened horticultural sand or a sand and perlite mixture. Other recommendations are peat moss or vermiculite.
Scrub your pots and fill them with pre-moistened medium. 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. Remove the bags once you see sprouts.
It can take up to 20 years for your little tree to fruit on its own, but it will make a lovely houseplant for several years before you transplant it outdoors to grow to maturity.