Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), also called Indian ginseng, is an herb that has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years. It is said to detoxify and rejuvenate the body, stimulate the immune system, improve memory, reduce inflammation and help other conditions. Ashwagandha is a perennial if grown in areas that have warm winters with no frost. Otherwise, you can grow it as an annual in USDA climate zones 3 to 10 (Minnesota to Miami). Not recommended for planting in containers, ashwagandha will do well for you in sandy or rocky soil, full or part sunlight and fairly dry conditions.
Start your seeds in spring in a nursery pot or flat that you have filled with potting soil that has a bit of sand. Press the small seeds gently into your soil.
Water your pot or flat and keep it moist and at a temperature of about 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Expect the seeds to germinate within two weeks. Thin seedlings to about 1 inch of each other when they are ½ to 1 inch tall.
Prepare your outdoor planting area by digging a small amount of sand into the soil.
Plant your seedlings in your outdoor planting area when they are 3 to 4 inches tall. Be sure to leave 2 to 3 feet between plants. Water well and keep the plants moist until they begin to show strong signs of growth. After that time, keep your ashwagandha fairly dry.
Harvest the plant’s roots in the fall. You can also harvest its red berries and dry them for the many seeds they contain, which you can plant the following spring.
Things You Will Need
- Nursery pot(s) or flat
- Potting soil
- Sunny, warm, dry location
- Ashwagandha will grow to a height up to 4 feet and a width of up to 3 feet; so allow sufficient space for this plant to grow.
- If your soil is rocky, this is suitable for ashwagandha.
- If you transplant seedlings late in the afternoon, they will be able to undergo any transplant shock during the cooler nighttime hours and not be cooked by the hot sun. If you must transplant at the beginning of a hot day, provide temporary shade for your seedlings. An umbrella works well.
- You can make a tincture with the fresh roots by chopping them up, placing them in a clean glass jar about one-third full, and then fill it with vodka or brandy. Cap tightly and let it steep for 30 days, shaking the contents daily.
- Ashwagandha will often self-sow in tropical climates if you do not harvest it or pick its red berries.
- Insect pests do not normally attack Ashwaganda.
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