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Three weeks ago I bought a potted Ginkgo biloba from a local nursery, with strong green leaves. I've never looked after a Ginkgo before but I watered it every other day apart from the day we had heavy rain. It's been in a sunny spot and I've recently moved it into a part of the garden where it's shaded on one side.

This is how it looked the day I bought it:

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And this is how the leaves look like now:

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Almost every leaf is yellowing on the outside. I understand that one of the features of Ginkgo trees are their strong yellow leaves in the autumn but this seems a bit early.

I live in the south-east of England.

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The yellowing and hint of browning indicates insufficient water. The pot its in is now too small and the tree needs planting, either into a larger pot or into the ground. Relying on rain, however heavy, to water plants in pots is not a good idea, they should still be watered anyway, and because this plant is probably root bound, it can't hang onto enough water because the soil to root ratio isn't right.

The best thing to do right now is pot it up into something larger, keep it well watered, then plant into the ground come autumn, again keeping it watered during dry spells for the first year or two. If its going to stay in a pot for a while, water when the surface of the compost feels just dry to the touch, and water copiously, allowing the excess to drain away freely from the base of the pot. And because of where you live (which is where I am too) another piece of advice - if you decide to keep it in a pot, keep a careful eye on it during October in particular, if October turns out to be dry and not very cold - it will still need watering.

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As a rule of thumb, the roots of a tree should be free to spread out to the same width as the growth above ground. That size of pot was only meant to contain the tree for a short time (i.e. a few days) in the nursery before it is sold, and to make it easier to move the tree after you bought it.

Get it into the ground as soon as possible. If you can't remove the container easily, consider cutting the pot open (with pruning shears or something similar) rather than risk damaging the tree roots by pulling the tree trunk.

If the roots are coiled up inside the pot, try to spread them out (without breaking them) and plant the tree in a big enough hole to accommodate them.

You will need to keep watering the tree until it is properly established, but if it were mine I would rather plant it now than wait, so long as you can plant it in its final location - you don't want to move it twice within a few months.

If you can't plant it in its final location right now for some reason, it will help to put the pot in a hole in the ground, to reduce the heating and drying effect of wind and sun on the sides of the pot.

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