Find out how to grow ginseng. Growing ginseng requires patience and care, you can also grow it at home in containers.
USDA Zones — 4 – 10
Difficulty — Moderate
Other names — Asian Ginseng, Asiatic Ginseng, Chinese Red Ginseng, Ginseng Asiatique, Ginseng Chinois, Ginseng Japonais, Oriental Ginseng, Ginseng Panax, Ginseng Radix Alba, Ginseng Rouge, Guigai, Hong Shen, Japanese Ginseng, Korean Ginseng, Korean Panax Ginseng, Oriental Ginseng, Radix Ginseng Rubra, Red Kirin Ginseng, Red Korean Ginseng, Red Panax Ginseng, Renxian, Tibetan Ginseng, White Panax Ginseng.
Conditions for Growing Ginseng
Ginseng is a medicinal plant known for thousands of years in Asia, it is cultivated for its roots that is consumed fresh or dried. This herbaceous perennial can be grown in the garden, if one is patient and respectful of some rules.
Ginseng Panax belongs to the family of Araliaceae. It is native to North America and East Asia, where it grows in the canopy of tall trees. Ginseng is often called “root of life” because of its many therapeutic properties.
It is a perennial with dark green leaves, smooth and thick, with toothed edges. After about 4 years of growing, ginseng blooms in spring and in late summer, forming small white flowers in umbels. Ginseng fruits are in the form of bright red berries, following the flowers.
Growing ginseng is a slow and long process. They do reach maturity at the end of 4 to 6 years. Ginseng is cultivated in temperate regions because it is not too fragile and adapts to both frost and mild drought conditions.
Losing all its leaves in autumn, it becomes dormant in the winter until spring. It is an outdoor plant that likes to grow closely to trees or wall. It is usually grown on the ground but you can also grow it in the pots.
How to Grow Ginseng
Ginseng can be propagated by seeds, division or cuttings.
Act in the fall or spring for ginseng propagation. If you buy seeds, obtain them from qualified vendors, otherwise collect seeds when they are evicted by the plant in autumn. But remember non stratified seeds are hard to germinate.
Our recommendation is to buy stratified ginseng seeds and plant them in fall, anytime before soil freezes. Prepare seed beds with the appropriate substrate. Leave a space of 1 – 2 inch between each seed. Press the seeds about half an inch deep. Cover them with a thick mulch of leaves and straws (about 2 inch) for protection in winter. Seedlings will emerge in the following spring or summer.
How to Grow Ginseng in a Pot
Choose pots about 30 – 40 cm in diameter, drilled in the bottom for good drainage. Place the plant in the middle of the pot and fill with the remaining soil. Tamp it well and sprinkle moderately. All the other ginseng growing and caring requirements are similar and given below.
Requirements for Growing Ginseng
Ginseng likes light soil, which is slightly acidic, sandy, loamy and well-drained. Avoid stony or clay rich soil.
Ginseng grows wild in woods, under the canopy of tall trees. Therefore, it needs shade and dappled light. It is recommended to avoid direct sunlight that is intense. A location in the north or East in the shade of a tree, a wall or a hedge or a slope is perfect.
It needs to be watered regularly and in small quantities. Take care not to overwater the plant.
It does not necessarily require fertilizer. If you’re growing ginseng, it is better to cover the area with a layer of rotting leaves, which is ideal as ginseng fertilizer. They will also work as mulch.
Ginseng can withstand temperature down to -40 F (-40 C), it becomes dormant in winter but during the dormancy period it does not tolerate excess moisture or rain. Therefore, to overwinter it, it is best to cover the plant with thick mulch. In warm climates 2 inch of mulch is required, while in more cooler zones in further north it requires 3 to 4 inches thick layer.
For growing ginseng, summer temperature must not exceed 77 F (25 C) and humidity should be low, summer temperature around 62 – 70 F (17 to 21 C) is optimum for growing panax ginseng, once established.
Pests and Diseases
Ginseng is seldom bothered by pests. However, slugs often affect it. They devour the leaves, stems and roots. To protect the plant from them, read our “Slug Control Tips”
It is commonly infected by diseases like Alternaria blight, gray mold, anthracnose, root knot nematodes and root rot. These diseases can be controlled by some preventive measures: Using disease free soil, accurate watering and treating or removing plant at the time when it is infected.
Ginseng plant takes 4 to 6 years to mature. Harvesting should be done when the plant has at least 4 leaves and they become yellow. Harvesting must be done carefully, use small gardening tools to dig and clear the roots. These roots are consumed fresh or stored and preserved either whole or sliced.