Mistakes to Avoid When Growing a Ginkgo Tree

A ginkgo tree with branches full of leaves.
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The ginkgo tree, or maidenhair tree, is a hardy tree that can adapt to any kind of soil, and thrives in almost any condition. Due to its easy transplantation and growth and attractive fall color, it is a popular choice for landscaping. However, amateur gardeners can make mistakes in the planting and growing of a ginkgo tree, which will inhibit growth and may even kill it. Errors such as not digging a deep enough hole for the ginkgo tree root ball, or damaging the roots, can easily be avoided by understanding the needs of the tree beforehand.

1. Air Pockets in the Soil

Leaving air pockets in the soil when transplanting the tree can negatively impact its growth, and it is another common mistake which many amateur gardeners make. However, these pockets can easily be removed during the planting process. When the ginkgo tree is put into the transplanting hole, half-fill it with soil, and then water thoroughly.

Leave the soil and roots to soak up this water before you fill the hole the rest of the way, until almost level with the rest of the ground. Then, water again and leave the tree overnight in order to allow the soil and the ginkgo to "settle"; you may notice some difference in the soil the following day. Water the tree a third time, letting the liquid pool around the base of the tree. This should eliminate all pockets.

2. Location in the Yard

Another mistake is planting the ginkgo tree too close to the house. The female ginkgo unfortunately produces flowers and fruit that smell bad, rotten almost, and this generally makes it unpleasant to be around.

The male is generally used in cultivars, but it is not easy to establish when growing from a seed. Additionally, since the tree will not flower for about 20 years, it could be a long time before you notice if you have planted a female in error. By then it will probably be too late.

3. Overwatering

hose laying on the lawn

The ginkgo tree thrives in moist soil and does not object to either dry or wet conditions. However, some gardeners can sometimes make the mistake of overwatering it, or planting the tree in an area where summer heat becomes a serious problem. Overwatering is the most common cause of established ginkgo trees failing to thrive.

In the first few years after planting, the ginkgo grows poorly which can make people believe that it needs more water or fertilization. In fact, too much watering can obviously have a more detrimental effect, particularly where the soil is poorly drained; if the tree fails to thrive during its early years, it may be best just to leave it alone, and wait to see whether it will pick up as it matures.

4. Inappropriate Habitat

The ginkgo tree does well in urban areas and is resistant to pollution. This has made it a popular landscaping tree with estate planners. However, it is not suitable for growing in areas like Texas or Oklahoma, where the summer heat might overwhelm it.