How to plant or grow ginseng at home

Ginseng is best known for its roots, which look like green ginger or misshapen carrots. Ginseng has long been used in traditional medicine in many Asian and Native American cultures. As a highly prized commercial product, wild ginseng has been overexploited and is therefore legally protected in Asia and North America.

Here are some helpful plant care tips so you can grow your own ginseng.

Varieties of ginseng.

Asian and American ginseng are herbaceous perennials. American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) reaches a height of 25-40 cm in eastern North America.

Asian ginseng (Panax ginseng) is frost hardy and reaches about 20 cm in height. Today, it is mainly found in the remote mountains of Korea, China and Russia.

How to plant ginseng.

Although collecting wild ginseng seeds is legal, given its rarity, you will most likely need to purchase seeds or seedlings.

On Amazon there are several sellers of ginseng seeds, for example this one.

Cultivation from seeds.

Seeds can be stored until you are ready to plant them. Before planting, soak them for 10 minutes in a 50% hydrogen peroxide solution to prevent fungal infections. Sow the seeds about 3 centimeters apart. The seeds will germinate in early to mid spring, in which case you will need to space them about 3 to 4 inches apart.

Seedling cultivation.

Seedlings should be planted immediately after purchase. Plant them 8 cm apart and water.

Care of ginseng plants.

Ginseng is a forest plant, so your goal should be to replicate these conditions as much as possible. However, once planted, your ginseng will require little care.

Light and air.

Ginseng grows in partial to full shade, with good air circulation. If you can’t find a natural tree to plant it under, you can create your own with man-made structures.

soil and nutrients.

Prepare a bed of soil up to 8 inches deep under tall hardwoods, preferably on a northeast-facing slope. Ginseng requires well-drained, humus-rich soil with a slightly acidic pH.

Irrigation.

Before your plants reach maturity, water regularly so the soil doesn’t dry out.

Once your plants have reached maturity, to retain moisture you can cover them with dead leaves, this is the only additional soil your plants will need.

During periods of prolonged drought, be sure to keep the soil moist: it is better to apply a moderate amount of moisture frequently than to water heavily and infrequently.

temperature and humidity.

American ginseng is a broad-spectrum plant, with a very wide natural range, but is best grown in a cooler climate that replicates the relatively constant humidity of its forest environment. An area prone to flooding or standing water will rot its precious roots.

Image: hssbb79 – Depositphotos.

How to harvest and store ginseng.

Even harvesting of commercially grown ginseng is limited to mature plants (at least three years old) and only in late summer and fall.

So if you are considering growing ginseng, know that the first thing you will need is patience before your plants are ready to harvest.

Ginseng can survive humans, so there’s no reason to rush into harvesting.

Do not start before the fourth year of the plant, carefully dig up your crop with a shovel so as not to damage the roots. Gently mop the floor, then dry the ginseng in a cool, dry, well-ventilated room.

Large roots can take several weeks to dry out, so turning them daily will speed up the process and prevent mold.

Store dried ginseng in a wicker basket or other well-ventilated container.

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