How to Plant and Raise Ginseng

Overview

Ginseng was discovered in China over 5,000 years ago and has been used medicinally since then. American ginseng grows wild throughout North America, but has become more rare because of over-harvesting. Ginseng can most often be found growing in forest areas near Solomon's seal, ferns, wild ginger, or cohosh. A great amount of patience and care is needed when planting and raising ginseng because it can take up to five to eight years to reach harvest time.

Step 1

Select an area to grow your ginseng seeds in the fall. Choose an area shaded by trees so that about 70 to 80 percent of the area is shaded. Use a wooded area of your yard, if possible. Ginseng grows best in hardwood forests.

Step 2

Rake away leaves from the area where you would like to grow your ginseng plants. Make sure the area is well-drained so that your plants don't get water-logged. Ginseng is especially sensitive to water levels.

Step 3

Plant your ginseng seeds at a depth of .25 inches deep. Space each planting about 8 inches apart. Create walkways so that you can tend your plants by allowing 2 feet between each row of plants.

Step 4

Mulch your garden area by raking the surrounding leaves over the planting site. Add about 1 inch of leaves. The leaves will provide nutrients to your plants for many years, as well.

Step 5

Add just enough water to moisten your garden area. Allow the soil to dry before being watered again. Test the wetness each day by placing a pinch of soil in your hands. If the soil balls up or sticks to your hand then don't water your plants.

Step 6

Harvest the berries on your ginseng plants to obtain the seeds in the fall once they have turned bright red. Crush and remove two seeds from each berry.

Step 7

Soak your ginseng seeds in a mixture of one part bleach to five parts water, so that they are resistant to problems with fungus.

Step 8

Stratify your seeds by digging a 1-foot hole in your garden area. Fill the edges of the hole with rocks so that critters can't get to your seeds. Add an inch of sand to the hole. Place 1 inch of seed evenly over the sand. Continue to layer the sand and seeds until the hole is filled. Cover it with a thin piece of wood for the winter. Remove the seeds for planting in the spring. Seeds must go through a period of winter cold before they can grow.

Tips and Warnings

  • Don't use oak leaves to mulch your ginseng garden. The leaves are too big and may inhibit growth of your plants.

References

  • Wild Grown: Ginseng
  • Agroforestry News: Economics and Marketing of Ginseng
  • West Virginia University: Woods-Grown Ginseng
Keywords: stratifying ginseng seed, growing ginseng, care for ginseng

About this Author

Based in Ann Arbor, Mich., Robin Coe has reported on a variety of subjects for more than 15 years. Coe has worked on environmental health and safety issues in communities across Ohio and Michigan. Coe holds a Bachelor of Science in journalism with a double-major in international politics from Bowling Green State University. She has also received training and experience as a nurse aide.