Ginseng is a Chinese herb whose roots are commonly used for medicinal purposes. Gardeners often raise ginseng as a valuable cash crop, though it can take up to 12 years for a harvest to be ready, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Once started, ginseng has very low maintenance needs, but the plant does have specific planting requirements that gardeners must follow to ensure proper seedling development and plant growth.
In the wild, the ginseng plant grows in rich woodland loam in partial shade. Mimicking these growing conditions can ensure proper ginseng growth and development. Gardeners should choose an area that's moist, cool and partially shaded. Aim to provide the ginseng plants with 75 percent shade, according to the USDA.
Remove all surface debris and amend the soil with several inches of aged compost to boost the organic composition of the dirt. This also helps the soil retain moisture, giving the ginseng roots the moist environment that they need. Though the roots enjoy moist soil, the plant itself needs fresh air to remove humidity. Insufficient air movement is one of the chief causes of ginseng plant diseases, according to the Ohio State University. Thin out surrounding shrubs and vegetation to ensure adequate air flow among the ginseng plants.
Ginseng is typically started from seeds, available from specialty nurseries and garden stores. Seeds should be sown in the spring to a depth of 1/2 inch to 1 inch, according to the USDA. If more than one plant is being sown, the plants should be spaced apart by 6 to 8 inches.
Fertilization should generally be avoided, according to the USDA. If a gardener chooses to fertilize, the USDA recommends using rotted leaves or rotted wood chips stirred into the soil around the ginseng plants.