How to Grow Ginseng Root

Overview

Ginseng root is not the crop for the impatient farmer, as it can take between six and 10 years to be ready for harvest when planted from seeds. If using seedlings, the crop may be ready for harvest within one to three years. Ginseng, which naturally grows in forest environments, requires shady conditions. An alternative is growing ginseng in a field under artificial shade. Ginseng requires loamy, rich soil, high in organic matter. Ginseng is mature when it reaches about one foot tall, with three or four compound leaves. Harvesting takes place in the fall, after the plant tops die.

From Seeds

Step 1

Schedule the planting for any time after late summer, before the ground freezes. If you have a problem with rodents eating the seeds, schedule planting in late March.

Step 2

Estimate 19 to 25 pounds of seeds per ¼ acre.

Step 3

Rake away the forest litter, and mulch the area with 2 to 3 inches of leaf mold.

Step 4

Plant seeds ½ to 1 inch deep and space 6 to 12 inches apart.

Step 5

Keep the soil moist and do not fertilize.

From Seedlings

Step 1

Schedule the planting for anytime between October and April, ideally in the fall.

Step 2

Rake away the forest litter.

Step 3

Plant seedlings 8 inches apart, and mulch with leaf mold.

Step 4

Keep the soil moist and do not fertilize.

Step 5

Protect the seedlings from frost by covering with a 4- to 5-inch layer of mulch over the crown in the winter.

Tips and Warnings

  • Do not rotate two crops of ginseng in the same location, due to soil nutrient depletion and concerns of plant disease.

Things You'll Need

  • Rake
  • Ginseng seeds or seedlings
  • Leaf mold

References

  • Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management: Growing Ginseng Fact Sheet
  • United States Department of Agriculture: Growing Ginseng
Keywords: growing ginseng, ginseng root crop, planting ginseng

About this Author

Ann Johnson has been a freelance writer since 1995. She previously served as the editor of a community magazine in Southern California and was also an active real estate agent, specializing in commercial and residential properties. She has a Bachelor of Arts in communications from California State University of Fullerton.