How to Plant American Ginseng


American ginseng (panax quinquefolium) grows wild in the eastern half of North America. It is found on north, east and southwest facing slopes growing under trees, both hardwood and softwood, in dappled to full shade. When you buy American ginseng, whether you want to grow it as a cash crop or for purely ornamental purposes, always check the Latin name of the ginseng you are purchasing to avoid inadvertently purchasing a European or Asian ginseng.

Step 1

Plant American ginseng from September to 2 weeks before the first hard frost in your region.

Step 2

Choose a shady spot with well-drained soil. You can plant American ginseng under trees or in the shade of buildings. Choose spots with north, east or southwest exposure. The site should receive 70% shade and 30% indirect or dappled sun.

Step 3

Clean up the planting area by removing weeds, large rocks and sticks.

Step 4

Work 2 to 3 inches of compost, well-rotted manure, decomposed leaves or pine needles into the top 6 inches of soil. Rake the soil smooth.

Step 5

Plant stratified seeds 1/2 inch deep, spaced 6 inches apart. Use the back of the fix tine rake to firm the seeds into the soil.

Step 6

Dig a hole deep enough to accommodate the tap roots of 2-year-old American ginseng plants. The holes should place the terminal bud or top of the root 1 to 1 1/2 inches below the level of the soil. Back-fill the hole with soil. Space the rootlets 10 to 12 inches apart.

Step 7

Mulch both the seeds and rootlets with 2 to 3 inches of shredded leaves.

Step 8

Give your newly planted American ginseng seeds and rootlets 1 to 3 inches of water. Or water until the top 4 inches of soil is moist but not soggy.

Tips and Warnings

  • Wild ginseng is prone to disease if they are planted in a spot with poor air circulation, the soil is soggy and does not drain well or the plants are overcrowded. Using more than 3 inches of mulch may cause both the rootlets and the seeds to fail to germinate.

Things You'll Need

  • Fixed tine rake
  • Compost or well-rotted manure or decomposed leaves or pine needles
  • Stratified American ginseng seeds or 2-year-old roots
  • Hand trowel or shovel
  • Shredded leaves


  • Ohio State University Extension Fact Sheet; Growing American Ginseng in Ohio
  • Missouri Department of Conservation; Flora of Missouri
  • North Carolina State University; Planting and Caring for Ginseng roots and seeds

Who Can Help

  • Alternative Herbal Medicine; general information on ginseng
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