Ginseng (Panax ginseng, Panax quinquefolius and other species) is a plant with roots often used in traditional Chinese medicine as an energy tonic and natural remedy for many conditions. Because of its popularity, ginseng has been overharvested in the wild. If you live in an area that has a forest or even a few large trees with deep, rich soil around, you can grow your own ginseng--and, in doing so, you can help the wild population to recover. When you plant ginseng seed in rows, you can control the growing conditions and make harvesting easier than if you had planted the seeds randomly.
Order ginseng seeds that have been stratified because fresh seeds take one year to germinate.
Plan to plant your ginseng inside a fenced area in shade where it will be safe from poachers. Theft of ginseng has caused many stands of it to disappear in many localities.
Begin to prepare your planting area in spring in anticipation of planting your ginseng seeds the following fall. You'll need a mostly shady area with good soil that is eight to 10 inches deep for best root production. The temperature in your growing area should never exceed 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove small understory shrubs in your planting area to increase airflow around your plants. A lack of circulation contributes to plant diseases that affect ginseng.
Mark out rows that are six to nine inches apart. Use string that you tie to stakes or simply sprinkle flour to mark where you will make your rows.
Use the shovel to turn the soil over in your marked rows and remove as many large rocks as you find. Dig compost into the rows you have marked: One 5-gallon bucket full of compost will be adequate for a row that is 10 to 12 feet long. Allow the area to rest all summer.
Plant your ginseng seeds in your prepared rows in fall when the average temperature is about 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Dig planting holes 2 inches deep and four to six inches apart.
Drop one seed into each hole and cover with the soil/compost mixture you removed when you dug your planting holes.
Spread a layer of mulch two inches deep on top of your rows and water the area well with a sprinkler for at least one hour once each week. If the rainfall in your area is less than 40 to 50 inches a year, supplement the amount with irrigation.