Ginseng Planting Seed Tips

Ginseng prefers a hardwood forest setting and likes hillsides, where drainage is good and shade is dominant. The West Virginia University Extension Service says that the plants prefer sites beneath poplar and walnut trees, but--due to the heavy fall of leaves--not oaks. The extension further suggests that the presence of maple trees can hinder digging of ginseng because of the form the root system of the tree takes, roots which also compete with ginseng plants for nutrients.

Stratification

The process of stratification is also called cold dormancy and involves cycles of warm and cold which trigger the seed to sprout. North Carolina State University suggests creating a pouch of screen wire to protect seeds from rodents, filling the pouch with seed and burying it 4 to 5 inches deep beneath soil and mulch. In early spring, retrieve the pouch, plant any sprouting seeds, stir the remaining seed and bury the pouch again until the fall, when the now-stratified seed may be planted. Gardeners who want to avoid the complexity and labor involved in these steps can simply purchase ginseng seed that has already been put through the stratification process.

Planting

Plant in the fall. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, seed should be collected in the fall, when the plant's fruits have a red appearance. Stratified seed may emerge in the spring, while seed that has not undergone the process may not germinate until the second spring following planting. Planting over successive years will help give you a continuous harvest. According to the Ohio State University Extension, mature plants should have a final spacing of one to two per square foot, so aim to plant four to five seeds per plot. The plant needs 3 to 5 years to grow before you can begin to harvest roots.

Choosing a Site

In selecting a site, look for plants that prefer conditions similar to those required by ginseng. These plants include wild ginger and ferns. If you do not have such a space, you can try to recreate the native environment. Build a rich, organic soil in a shady area where the soil remains moist or regular watering can be arranged. Making the seedbed is straightforward and involves no tilling or digging. A rake is a sufficient tool to assist the process. Pull back the covering of leaves and debris and scratch the tines of the rake into the soil to scar the area and help the seeds to make contact. Cast seed over the area and pull the leaf litter back into place.

Keywords: Planting ginseng seed, Ginseng growing, Preparing ginseng seed

About this Author

Alice Moon is a freelance writer with more than 10 years' experience. She was chosen as a Smithsonian Institute intern, working for the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., and has traveled throughout Asia. Moon holds a Bachelor of Science in political science from Ball State University.