How To Grow Ginseng

How To Grow Ginseng

Last Updated on September 1, 2021

Ginseng is valued mainly for its roots. Traditionally used in medicine, you can also use it to make tea and cook with.

Growing ginseng for profit or individual enjoyment is not difficult. All you need is a little knowledge and a lot of patience.

In this article, we’ll show you how to grow ginseng successfully. Here are the main topics we will discuss:

  • What Is Ginseng?
  • Growing Ginseng Commercially
  • Ginseng and Hydroponics
  • Growing Ginseng at Home
  • When to Plant Ginseng
  • Growing Ginseng in Pots
  • Step-by-Step Guide To Growing Ginseng
  • How to Care for Ginseng
  • Disease and Pests
  • How to Harvest Ginseng
  • How To Dry and Store Ginseng
  • FAQs
How to Grow Ginseng infographic

What Is Ginseng?

Ginseng is a perennial herbaceous root belonging to the Panax family. It is often used in traditional Chinese and traditional Native American medicine. Ginseng trees yield red berries when fully mature. 

The plant, however, is cultivated for its roots. It grows as wild ginseng organically in its natural habitat or cultivated ginseng in a controlled environment.

American Ginseng-Panax Quinquefolius

There are thirteen species of ginseng under the name Panax. You will find American Ginseng or Panax quinquefolius predominantly in Canada and the United States. 

Other Varieties

Along with American ginseng, there are plants from Korea, China, and Japan, known as Asian ginseng. 

Siberian ginseng is derived from a different plant with distinct active chemical components named eleutherosides. These active chemical components stimulate the brain and immunological system. Siberian ginseng also contains chemicals with antibacterial and antiviral effects.

Growing Ginseng Commercially

Ginseng that is truly wild is a protected species under international law. In the states where it occurs, it is either illegal to harvest or heavily regulated. Growers must produce cultivated ginseng in simulated conditions.

The types of ginseng that can be grown commercially are either wild-simulated, wood cultivated or field cultivated.

What Is Wild-Simulated Ginseng? 

Wild-simulated ginseng is cultivated for nine to twelve years, sometimes longer, in undisturbed soil.

What Is Wood Cultivated Ginseng?

Wood cultivated ginseng is grown for six to nine years under natural shade in soil that has been tilled.

What Is Field Cultivated Ginseng?

Producers of field cultivated ginseng grow it in raised beds, in areas, under artificial shade, for three to four years.

Ginseng and Hydroponics

American Ginseng is a comparatively recent crop for hydroponic cultivation. Because of limited space, most indoor hydroponic gardeners propagate from seed, and then when they get to two-year-old roots, they sell them to other ginseng growers. These two-year-old roots can be transplanted to grow ginseng crops. 

Hydroponics systems need a robust growing foundation when it comes to ginseng. 

According to Upstart University, both amateurs and commercial hydroponic growers regularly use peat moss filled containers as a seedling starter because of its high water retention capacity and its similarity to ginseng’s natural environment, forest floors.

Another method of growing is to use a mixture of peat moss, perlite, and forestry sand. Some growers, for example, begin by freezing sacks of sand and ginseng seeds for four months to simulate the conditions of being buried in the fall and winter. 

Growers should plant the roots or seeds two inches deep in the peat moss. The key to growing ginseng indoors is using low-wattage lights to simulate natural shade in a forest.

Growing Ginseng at Home

You can grow ginseng from the root or the seed. Growing from roots produces a faster plant with an early harvest but is much more expensive than growing from seed. Seedlings are priced differently depending on their age.

It is not difficult to grow ginseng at home. Let’s take a look at the sequence of steps involved in developing ginseng from seed to harvest. 

Ginseng Seed Stratification

There is a procedure you must follow before growing ginseng at home for the plant to be successful. This is known as seed stratification. 

Stratification is necessary and can be replicated in a home garden. You need to expose ginseng seeds to alternating periods of cold and warm temperatures for 18 to 22 months. The reason for this is to follow the natural life process of ginseng seeds in the wild. 

How To Stratify Ginseng Seeds?

Unstratified seeds should be soaked in formaldehyde and then treated with fungicide, according to experts. The seed should then be buried in moist sand outside or stored in the refrigerator. The cold temperatures are necessary to break the seed’s dormancy and the warmer temperature is for it to germinate.

If you’re new to growing ginseng from seed, purchase pre-stratified seeds from a reliable source. This will avoid the initial stratification process. However, understanding the stratification process is critical for when your ginseng produces any future seeds that you want to plant.

Ginseng Seed Germination

After the 18-22 month period of dormancy, ginseng seeds will begin to germinate in the spring. Between late April and early June, ginseng seedlings will start to sprout. The leaves will be developed in 4 to 5 weeks, and the seedling will be about 2 to 5 inches tall. 

When to Plant Ginseng

The best time to plant ginseng seeds is in the fall, whether in your garden or a container. This timing corresponds to the natural process of ginseng in forests. 

Growing Ginseng in Pots

You can grow your ginseng in planters or pots. But keep in mind that it is a laborious and time-consuming process. 

Choose a container with a diameter of about 15 inches (40 cm) and drainage holes. Use potting soil that is a fertile loam and drains well. Plant the seeds one and a half inches (4 cm) deep. Keep the soil moist and grow in the shade with only a sliver of sunlight.  

Note: You should only apply fertilizer during the dormant season. The roots can be detrimentally affected if regularly fertilized.

Grow Ginseng

Step-by-Step Guide To Growing Ginseng

Select Your Seeds

Buying stratified seeds from a local producer is the simplest way for newbie farmers to start growing ginseng. These seeds have already shed their tough outer coverings.

Select and Prepare Your Planting Location

Your growing area should have rich, well-drained soil with a pH of 6.5 to 7. Choose a low-traffic place with some shade. Remove any large rocks or debris that may restrict the growth of your ginseng plants.

The optimal soil for growing ginseng is moist, well-drained, and abundant in calcium and organic matter. 

Place Your Ginseng in the Ground 

To increase air circulation and limit the risk of disease, sow your ginseng seeds approximately one-half to one inch below the soil surface, spreading them between three to twelve inches apart.

Exercise Patience

Ginseng seeds can take up to 18 months to germinate, and it takes three to five years for ginseng plants to mature. Give it enough time—if you harvest sooner, the potency of the ginseng root will be affected and it will be less beneficial.

Grow Ginseng

How to Care for Ginseng 

Water

Ginseng likes moist soil, and because it prefers shaded locations, it usually gets enough moisture from its surroundings. Adding peat moss and leaf litter compost to the mix can aid with drainage and moisture retention. To avoid root rot, make sure you don’t overwater your plant.

Clean Up the Planting Area

To minimize overcrowding, regularly weed the soil and prune away any branches or stems from surrounding plants that encroach on your ginseng’s planting spot.

Store It Away From Direct Sunlight 

Cultivate ginseng in partially or fully shaded areas. If you’re going to put your ginseng in a pot outside, make sure it’s in the shade.

Mulch 

If you’re growing ginseng in a pot or outside, use sawdust, leaf litter, or straw to keep the soil moist.

Inspect the Area for Pests and Disease

Wilted leaves could indicate disease or animal damage. Check the roots of a wilting plant for bite marks or gnawing spots. Set up barriers or traps to keep rodents and other pests away from your ginseng plantation. Leaf blight, which can also affect ginseng, can be treated with a careful application of organic fungicide.

Disease and Pests

Ginseng cultivation is not for the faint of heart. There are several issues you’ll confront. You can use some preventative methods and maintenance work to ensure a good harvest, but trial and error are sometimes necessary. 

Leaf blight, damping-off, and root rot are all diseases that can affect your ginseng. Provide the optimum conditions and keep ginseng plants separated from one another to avoid disease spreading.

Because most problems are fungal, you can treat your plants with a fungicide if they exhibit signs of infection.

Pests can also be a significant issue. Slugs eating the ginseng leaves is common, and an infestation can kill plants. Dry out slugs by mulching with sawdust. 

Cutworms can eat leaves, and you need to use pesticides to control them. Other insects can cause problems, although they are rarely significant. Mice have been known to consume the roots, while deer have entirely destroyed ginseng plantations.

Weeds and even young trees can cause ginseng plants to get infected. Because ginseng is most affected by competition in its first year of growth, weed the growing area before planting and continue weeding until the ginseng is fully grown.

Grow Ginseng

How to Harvest Ginseng

Ginseng harvesting is a delicate activity that you should handle with caution to avoid harming the roots.

Ease Up on the Dirt

Remove excess dirt from the roots of your ginseng plant by loosening the soil around it and gently pulling it up from the ground. 

How To Dry and Store Ginseng 

Washing Ginseng

Wash the roots with a low-pressure spray of water before drying them; do not scrub them. Make sure to spread out the roots, so they don’t come into contact with one another.

Drying Ginseng 

It’s possible to dry ginseng roots in a variety of ways. For the home grower, the simplest way is to air dry your ginseng roots for a few hours on a screen away from direct sunlight. Prevent drying the roots too quickly, but don’t do it so slowly that mold develops. Rotate the roots now and again to ensure that they are drying evenly.

Provide proper air ventilation and a stable air temperature for the drying roots. At temperatures of 70-100 degrees Fahrenheit, the roots should dry completely in 1-2 weeks. 

Small roots dry faster, while larger roots can take up to six weeks to dry. Make sure the roots dry in a cool, dry, well-ventilated area in your home.

Check the roots regularly to make sure they’re totally dry. A well-dried root should easily snap in half and be completely white on the inside.

Storing Ginseng

Never store dried ginseng roots in plastic. Plastic promotes humidity, which can lead to mold growth on the roots. Store your dried ginseng in a well-ventilated container such as a wicker basket or cardboard box. 

Dried ginseng can last up to five years if stored correctly. After that, the dried ginseng loses its potency and flavor.

Ginseng

FAQs

Is my climate suitable for growing ginseng?

You’ll need to grow in a region with a four-season climate and some sub-freezing temperatures. The cold will assist in breaking your ginseng’s dormancy, allowing it to sprout in the spring. 

What kind of soil am I going to need to grow ginseng in?

Healthy soil is vital for any plant, including ginseng. Ginseng grows well on sandy loam with enough organic matter and adequate drainage. The pH of the soil should be between 6.0 and 6.5 for optimal ginseng cultivation. This pH range assists growing plants in absorbing nutrients from the soil while also preventing bacterial infections and diseases.

Before ginseng roots may be planted or regrown, how old must they be?

Ginseng roots would need to be at least two or three years old before you plant them. The fall is the best time to plant.

Conclusion

As you can see, growing Ginseng at home is not difficult. The correct knowledge will assist you in cultivating the plant from seed to harvest.

A few crucial points to remember are that ginseng thrives in partial to full shade. The soil must be moist but not soaked. Never fertilize your ginseng plant; instead, apply mulch from the time you plant the seed in the fall until the springtime. Ginseng can mature in 4 to 5 years.

Scroll to Top