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How to Germinate Ginkgo Seeds

Dr Ahsanur Rahman, PHD

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To germinate Ginkgo Seeds, plant them shallowly until just covered, cover the container with a clear plastic bag, place it in a warm location, and keep the medium moderately moist. This method can artificially stratify ginkgo “nuts” by mixing them with moist sand, vermiculite, or peat moss in clear plastic bags with small holes punched in.

Another approach is to gather the ripe fruit of the female tree in mid-autumn, clean off the pulp, wash the seeds with mild soap to remove germination inhibitors, and store them. Ginkgo seeds need exposure to cold temperatures, so they can be placed in a refrigerator or moist, sandy container pots outside during the winter.

Additionally, rooting ginkgo in water is not very successful, and there are also multiple ways to propagate ginkgo trees by way of cuttings depending on expertise level.

Understanding The Germination Process

In order to successfully germinate ginkgo seeds, it is essential to understand the germination process. By understanding how these seeds naturally germinate, we can provide the optimal conditions to encourage their growth. In this section, we will explore how ginkgo seeds germinate naturally and the benefits of germinating these precious seeds.

How Ginkgo Seeds Germinate Naturally

Ginkgo seeds have a unique and fascinating germination process. In the wild, the female ginkgo tree bears fruit that contains the seeds. The fruit, known as a ginkgo “nut,” has a fleshy coat that is filled with a pungent aroma. This coat serves as protection for the seed inside.

During the autumn season, the fruit falls from the tree and the outer fleshy coat naturally decays or is removed by environmental factors. This exposes the inner seed, allowing it to come into contact with soil and natural moisture. Over time, the seed germinates and a new ginkgo tree begins to grow.

In a controlled setting, we can mimic this natural germination process to encourage ginkgo seed growth. By understanding the natural conditions in which ginkgo seeds thrive, we can create an environment that promotes successful germination.

The Benefits Of Germinating Ginkgo Seeds

Germinating ginkgo seeds offers a range of benefits for both gardening enthusiasts and nature lovers. Let’s explore some of these benefits below:

  1. Preserving a Living Fossil: Ginkgo biloba, also known as the maidenhair tree, is often referred to as a living fossil. It is one of the oldest tree species on Earth, dating back millions of years. By germinating ginkgo seeds, we can contribute to the preservation and propagation of this ancient species.
  2. Enjoying Unique Foliage: Ginkgo trees boast distinctive fan-shaped leaves that turn a brilliant golden-yellow during the autumn season. By germinating ginkgo seeds, you can witness the beauty and uniqueness of this foliage right in your own backyard.
  3. Creating a Sustainable Landscape: Ginkgo trees are known for their resilience and adaptability to various environmental conditions. By germinating ginkgo seeds, you can contribute to a sustainable landscape by planting a tree that requires minimal maintenance and is resistant to pests and diseases.
  4. Nurturing Biodiversity: Ginkgo trees provide a habitat for various bird species and insects. By growing a ginkgo tree from seed, you can actively contribute to the preservation of biodiversity in your local ecosystem.

By understanding the germination process and the benefits of germinating ginkgo seeds, you can embark on a rewarding journey of growing and nurturing these ancient and remarkable trees.

Gathering And Preparing Ginkgo Seeds

Ginkgo seeds, also known as ginkgo nuts, are the key to growing your very own ginkgo tree. Before you can begin the germination process, it is important to gather and prepare the seeds properly. This involves identifying ripe ginkgo fruit, removing the fleshy coating from the seeds, and washing them to remove germination inhibitors. Let’s delve into each step in detail:

Identifying Ripe Ginkgo Fruit

Ginkgo trees produce fruit that contain the seeds you need for germination. It is crucial to collect the seeds at the right time when the fruit is ripe. Ripe ginkgo fruit will have a golden or yellow exterior and emit a strong and pungent smell. To identify ripe ginkgo fruit, look for the following characteristics:

  • Golden or yellow color
  • Pungent smell
  • Fruits fallen from the tree naturally

Removing The Fleshy Coating From Ginkgo Seeds

Once you have gathered the ripe ginkgo fruit, it’s time to remove the fleshy coating from the seeds. The fleshy coating can inhibit germination if not removed. Here’s how you can do it:

  1. Put on a pair of latex gloves to protect your hands from the strong-smelling and sticky coating.
  2. Place the ginkgo seeds in a jar or bowl of warm water.
  3. Gently crush the fleshy coating by stirring the seeds in the water. The warm water will help loosen the coating.
  4. Continue stirring for a few minutes until the fleshy coating separates from the seeds.
  5. Remove the seeds from the water and discard the fleshy coating.

Washing The Seeds To Remove Germination Inhibitors

The next step in preparing ginkgo seeds involves washing them to remove any germination inhibitors that may be present. Here’s how you can do it:

  1. Fill a bowl with mild soap solution or use a mild detergent.
  2. Add the ginkgo seeds to the bowl and gently swirl them around.
  3. Allow the seeds to soak in the soapy water for a few minutes.
  4. Afterward, rinse the seeds with clean water to remove any soap residue.
  5. Pat the seeds dry with a paper towel before proceeding to the germination process.

By gathering ripe ginkgo fruit, removing the fleshy coating, and washing the seeds, you will ensure that your ginkgo seeds are ready for germination. These steps will help increase the chances of successful germination and give your ginkgo tree the best start in life.

Artificially Stratifying Ginkgo Seeds

Artificially stratifying ginkgo seeds is a reliable method to ensure successful germination. By creating the ideal stratification environment and properly storing the stratified seeds, you can increase the chances of achieving healthy seedlings. In this section, we will explore the steps involved in artificially stratifying ginkgo seeds.

Creating The Stratification Environment

To begin the artificial stratification process, you will need to gather your ginkgo seeds and prepare the stratification environment. Follow these simple steps:

  1. Start by mixing the ginkgo seeds with moist sand, vermiculite, or peat moss. These materials will provide the necessary moisture and aeration for the seeds to stratify.
  2. Place the seed mixture into clear plastic bags, ensuring there are small holes punched in the bags for proper airflow.
  3. Label each bag with the date of stratification to keep track of the timing.
  4. Store the bags in a cool location, preferably between 32-41°F (0-5°C). This temperature range will simulate the cold winter conditions necessary for stratification.

By following these steps, you are creating an optimal stratification environment that mimics the natural conditions required for ginkgo seeds to germinate efficiently.

Proper Storage Of Stratified Seeds

After the seeds have been artificially stratified, it is crucial to store them properly until you are ready to plant them. Here are some tips for storing stratified ginkgo seeds:

  • Transfer the stratified seeds from the plastic bags to airtight containers, such as glass jars or plastic containers with tight-fitting lids.
  • Store the containers in a cool and dark location, such as a refrigerator or a cold basement. The temperature should remain constant and within the ideal range mentioned earlier.
  • Regularly check the seeds for any signs of moisture or mold. If you notice any issues, remove the affected seeds immediately to prevent contamination.
  • Label the containers with the date of stratification and the expected germination period to keep track of each batch of seeds.

By following these storage guidelines, you can maintain the viability of your stratified ginkgo seeds until you are ready to plant them and kickstart the germination process.

Planting Ginkgo Seeds

Planting Ginkgo Seeds

Ginkgo seeds, also known as “nuts,” have the potential to grow into magnificent Ginkgo trees. If you want to try your hand at germinating Ginkgo seeds, it’s essential to follow the correct planting process. In this section, we will discuss the steps involved in planting Ginkgo seeds, including selecting the right growing medium, proper seed placement and coverage, and creating the ideal environment for germination.

Selecting The Right Growing Medium

The choice of the growing medium plays a crucial role in the successful germination of Ginkgo seeds. A suitable growing medium should provide adequate drainage and moisture retention. One option is to mix moist sand, vermiculite, or peat moss in a ratio of 1:1:1 to create a balanced and fertile medium. This mixture ensures that the Ginkgo seeds receive the right amount of moisture, allowing them to germinate effectively.

Planting Ginkgo Seeds Shallowly And Properly Covering Them

When planting Ginkgo seeds, it is important to place them shallowly, until just covered. Avoid burying the seeds too deep, as this can hinder their ability to sprout. Instead, aim to have the seeds lightly covered with the growing medium. This allows the seeds to access the necessary oxygen and light for germination. Remember to gently pat down the medium to ensure firm contact with the seeds.

Creating The Ideal Environment For Germination

Creating the right environment is crucial for the successful germination of Ginkgo seeds. After planting, cover the container with a clear plastic bag to create a miniature greenhouse effect. This helps to retain moisture, warmth, and a stable humidity level, which are all essential for seed germination. Place the container in a warm location with indirect sunlight, such as near a window. Monitor the moisture content and ensure the growing medium remains moderately moist, but not waterlogged.

By following these steps and providing the ideal conditions, you can increase the chances of successfully germinating Ginkgo seeds. Remember to be patient, as it can take some time for the seeds to sprout. With proper care and attention, you can cultivate your very own Ginkgo tree and enjoy its beauty for years to come.

Caring For Germinating Ginkgo Seeds

Once you have successfully planted your ginkgo seeds and they begin to germinate, it is crucial to provide the proper care to ensure their healthy growth. Maintaining optimal moisture levels, providing adequate warmth and light play vital roles in nurturing germinating ginkgo seeds.

Maintaining Optimal Moisture Levels

Proper moisture is essential for the germination process of ginkgo seeds. Too much or too little moisture can hinder their growth. Here are some key tips for maintaining optimal moisture levels:

  • Ensure the planting medium remains moderately moist. Too much water can lead to rotting, while too little can cause the seeds to dry out.
  • Check the moisture level regularly by gently touching the soil. It should feel slightly damp but not soggy.
  • Avoid overwatering by providing water only when the soil starts to feel dry.
  • Consider using a misting bottle to provide a light mist of water to maintain moisture without disturbing the seeds.

Providing Adequate Warmth And Light

Warmth and light are essential factors for the successful germination of ginkgo seeds. Follow these guidelines to ensure your germinating seeds receive the right warmth and light:

  • Place the container in a warm location with a consistent temperature between 70 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Avoid exposing the seeds to direct sunlight, as it can lead to overheating and drying out. Instead, provide indirect light or use fluorescent grow lights.
  • Ensure the light source is positioned at an appropriate distance to prevent scorching the seeds or causing excessive heat.
  • Keep the light on for 12-16 hours a day to mimic daylight conditions and promote healthy growth.

By maintaining optimal moisture levels and providing adequate warmth and light, you can give your germinating ginkgo seeds the best conditions for successful growth. Remember to regularly monitor and adjust the moisture levels and provide sufficient light to support their development.

How to Germinate Ginkgo Seeds
How to Germinate Ginkgo Seeds 4


Can the Same Method be Used to Germinate Ginkgo and Pine Seeds?

When it comes to germinating Ginkgo and Pine seeds, using the same method may not be the best approach. Each type of seed has specific germination requirements. For a successful outcome, it’s essential to follow a germinate pine seeds tutorial for pine seeds, and a separate method for Ginkgo seeds.

Frequently Asked Questions Of How To Germinate Ginkgo Seeds

Do Ginkgo Seeds Need Cold Stratification?

Ginkgo seeds do not require cold stratification. Plant them shallowly, cover with a clear plastic bag, and keep the soil moist in a warm location to germinate. They can also be artificially stratified by mixing with moist sand or peat moss in plastic bags.

How Long Does It Take For Ginkgo Seeds To Sprout?

Ginkgo seeds typically take several weeks to sprout. Plant them shallowly in a container, cover with a clear plastic bag, and keep in a warm location with moderate moisture. Alternatively, you can artificially stratify the seeds with moist sand or vermiculite in plastic bags.

How Do You Sprout A Ginkgo Tree?

To sprout a ginkgo tree, start with ginkgo seeds from a tree or gardening store. Place the seeds in a refrigerator or a moist, sandy container outside during the winter for cold exposure. Then, plant the seeds shallowly, cover with a clear plastic bag, and keep in a warm location with moderate moisture.

Can You Root Ginkgo In Water?

Rooting ginkgo in water is not very successful due to the risk of drowning the seeds. It is recommended to propagate ginkgo trees through other methods like using seeds or cuttings depending on expertise level.


To germinate ginkgo seeds successfully, follow these simple steps. Plant the seeds shallowly, just covering them with soil. Place the container in a warm location and cover it with a clear plastic bag to create a greenhouse effect. Keep the soil moderately moist and wait for the seeds to sprout.

Remember to be patient, as ginkgo seeds can take up to several weeks to germinate. By following these guidelines, you can successfully grow beautiful ginkgo trees from seed. Happy gardening! Protection Status