Potted Ginseng Care: Can You Grow Ginseng In Containers
By: Teo Spengler
Ginseng(Panax spp.) is a plant that has beenused for thousands of years in Asia. It is an herbaceous perennial and oftencultivated for medicinal use. Growing ginseng requires patience and careful maintenance.It prefers to grow outdoors, either in beds or in pots. If you have questionsabout growing ginseng in containers, read on. We’ll give you information aboutpotted ginseng including tips to help container-grown ginseng thrive.
Growing Ginseng in Planters
It may surprise you to learn that ginseng is native to NorthAmerica as well as East Asia. It has dark, smooth leaves with toothed edges andtiny white flowers that develop into red berries. However, ginseng’s primaryclaim to fame comes from its roots. The Chinese have used ginseng rootmedicinally for millennium. It is said to stop inflammation, improve cognitivepower, lessen anxiety and restore vitality.
Ginseng is available in this county as a supplement and alsoin tea form. But you can grow your own ginseng in planters or pots if you don’tmind the wait. Before you embark on growing potted ginseng, you should realizethat it is a slow and long process. Whether you opt for container-grown ginsengor plant it in a garden bed, the plant roots do not mature until four to 10years have passed.
How to Grow Ginseng in Containers
Ginseng in a pot can be cultivated outdoors in temperateregions. The plant prefers an outdoor location and adapts to both frost andmild drought conditions. You can also grow potted ginseng indoors.
Pick a container about 15 inches (40 cm.) in diameter, andbe sure it has drainage holes. Use light, slightly acidic potting soil thatdrains well.
You can grow ginseng from seed or from seedlings. Note thatseeds can take up to a year and a half to germinate. They require up to sixmonths of stratification(in the refrigerator in sand or peat), but you can also buy stratified seeds.Plant them in the fall 1 ½ inches (4 cm.) deep.
To start growing ginseng in containers, it is faster to buyseedlings. The prices will vary by age of the seedling. Remember that it willtake years for the plant to reach maturity.
It’s important to place the containers out of direct sun.The plants require significant shade and only dappled sunlight. Don’t fertilizeginseng, but water potted ginseng to keep the soil moist.
This article was last updated on
Ficus ginseng, a cute little bonsai
Ficus ginseng is a superb indoor plant that is much liked for its superb root trunk and its very ornamental foliage.
Key Ficus Ginseng facts
Name – Ficus ‘ginseng’
Scientific – Ficus microcarpa
Family – Moraceae (mulberry family)
Type – indoor plant
Height – 16 to 40 inches (40 to 100 cm), up to you
Soil – indoor plant soil mix, well drained
Exposure – abundant indirect light
Foliage – evergreen
Watering – moderate
Difficulty – easy
Leaves grow directly from the large root, producing an amazing effect.
It is easy to care for, and here is how to water it, prune it or when the best time to repot it is.
Order Seeds or Roots
Ginseng can be grown from seed or roots. Roots, of course, will reach maturity much faster than seeds. If ordering roots, do not cut them into sections. Ginseng roots must remain whole and can be planted in spring before they begin to bud, usually March or April, or in the fall after the berries have fallen.
If you live near the Appalachians within the natural range of the species, look for locally sourced seed from a trusted source, Sanders suggests. “The ideal seed will be organically grown (whether it is certified organic or not).” It is also important if ordering seeds through the mail to always buy them from a reputable grower.
Seeds from ginseng plants do not sprout the next year. They will sprout the year after falling to the ground because it will take them a year to lose the flesh of the berries that encase them and gain enough energy to sprout. This is process is called stratification. Most ginseng seeds offered for sale are stratified. "Green" seeds that have not been stratified are available, often at half the price of stratified seeds. Many ginseng growers prefer to pay the higher price of stratified seeds rather than wait a year on green seeds to become viable.
How to Plant Ginseng
The main requirement for growing ginseng at home is patience. Seeds can take up to 18 months just to germinate and seeds must be stratified first as well. So unless you locate seeds that have been stratified already, which is a task in and of itself, you will need to store your seeds in sand or peat in a refrigerator for six months before you can begin germination.
Once you have an actual plant in the ground, it’s another five to ten year wait before you will be able to harvest your first ginseng root. Purchasing seedlings cuts out a lot of the preparatory time, but it will cost extra money as well.
Plant ginseng seeds in the fall or early winter when the ground is slightly moist, preferably just after a light rain or snow. Space seeds 14 to 18 inches apart . Sow seeds a quarter inch deep, and cover by pressing down on the soil. Then, cover the planting area with a three inch layer of leaf debris mulch.
The process of planting ginseng seeds can actually be rather complicated as well. Some suggest planting ginseng by scattering seed, some by scattering seed individually. Some experts posit that because ginseng grows happily in the wild, it’s best to mimic its native habitat to grow it properly. General planting suggestions include spacing seeds three inches apart and covering loosely with just three fourths of an inch of soil medium.
Care for Ginseng
Ginsing prefers a consistently moist soil and needs a lot of shade. It is important when picking a location, to choose an area that mimics the plant’s native habitat. Amending your soil base with some peat moss and mulching with leaf litter will help to improve drainage and boost moisture retention. Extra watering is only necessary in drought conditions.
If you amend your soil well, no fertilization is necessary for ginseng, and additional food may actually negatively affect your plant growth. Amend with lots of organic compost.
How to Propagate Ginseng
Ginseng can only be propagated by seed. You can’t create a new plant from cuttings or root division. Propagating from seed can be difficult and seeds should be stratified before sowing. The easiest way to add ginseng plants is to buy established plants. The age of the plant you buy will determine how long you may have to wait for the plant to mature and develop roots large enough to harvest. The older and more established ginseng plant that you buy, the closer it will be to maturity and the smaller the amount of time you will have to wait to harvest it.
Garden Pests and Diseases of Ginseng
Ginseng plants are known to have problems with a few fungal diseases, especially when exposed to poor soil, and overcrowded growing conditions with inadequate air circulation. The common garden diseases known to trouble ginseng crops are leaf blight, damping-off, and root rot.
Prevent disease growth by giving your plants the best care and providing ginseng’s preferred growing conditions. Providing each of your ginseng plants with plenty of space and ample air circulation, as well as conditions similar to the plant’s natural growing environment, will help reduce the chance of disease. Most of the diseases that attack ginseng are fungal, so you may want to keep some fungicide on hand to spray your plants with at the first sign of infection.
Two garden pests known to attack ginseng are slugs and cutworms. Lay out beer baits to drown slugs. Just a small amount of beer poured into a shallow dish will distract the slimy, leaf-eating ne’er-do-wells. Other organic control methods for slugs include picking them off by hand and drying them out by mulching with sawdust.
Cutworms can destroy leaf tissue and leave unsightly messes in your garden beds. Manage cutworms with pesticides. Other insects might attack the ginseng plant, but none cause significant damage. Larger pests, such as mice, have been known to beat you to harvest, eating the roots of ginseng plants before they can mature. Deer have been known to annihilate entire ginseng crops.
Harvesting Laws for Ginseng in the USA
Because of popular demand and limited supply, state and federal laws involving ginseng production and harvesting are constantly shifting to highlight growing trends and to prevent over-harvesting. You don’t have to worry about harvesting laws when it comes to reaping crops that you grow in your own garden, however, it is always good to know the rules and limitations involving harvesting ginseng that is growing in the wild, in case you happen upon some and are considering adding the wild roots to your cupboard stock.
How to Harvest Ginseng
When ginseng finally reaches maturity, the root can be harvested during autumn. To harvest, gently dig around the plant until the root is exposed. Carefully work the root out of the soil, using your hands to dig around the root to free it from the soil without damaging its delicate runners. To preserve the root for extended periods, it can be dried and either sliced or grated.
How to Dry and Store Ginseng Root
There are several ways to dry ginseng root for storage. Different methods involve various drying methods using fans, stoves, heaters, and dehumidifiers. For small harvests, commercial herb drying systems are available, but they will not work for large root harvests. Large drying systems are available on the market, but prices are exorbitant.
Whichever drying method you decide on, the most important element to proper ginseng drying is timing. Rushing the drying process will result in inferior ginseng. Allowing ginseng too much drying time will result in mold issues.
There are two elements that need to be perfect to dry ginseng roots properly. Those elements are temperature and ventilation (or air circulation). Before drying, wash off your freshly harvested ginseng roots using a low pressure water stream. Never use water pressure or scrubbing to clean the roots, as bursts of strong water pressure and hand-scrubbing can easily bruise or damage the roots. Typically, ginseng roots are placed on drying racks or screens which provide good airflow.
Spread the roots out so that they do not touch each other. Occasionally rotate the roots to insure that they are drying equally on all surfaces. Keep temperatures between 70 and 100 degrees. Temperature, humidity, weather, and drying method all play a part in the time needed to dry ginseng roots.
With drying temperatures set at room temperature, or 70 degrees F, it should take around one to two weeks for the roots to dry out completely. Obviously smaller roots dry out more quickly than larger ones, which can take as much as six weeks to fully dry. Keep a close eye on the roots as they are drying to make sure that they are drying equally on each side. Roots that were dried correctly snap in two with ease and should be all-white inside, with no visible mold residue.
Once ginseng roots are completely dry and ready for storage, place them into paper bags or boxes. Never store roots in plastic bags or containers because plastic is known to raise humidity levels and can cause roots in storage to develop mold.
Ginseng root can be used to provide an all-natural energy boost, improve cognitive function, slow the affects of aging, increase sexual performance, reduce stress, and more. Growing the root in your garden can be very rewarding and even profitable, as long as you have plenty of patience and a good growing environment. Growing ginseng is a challenge, but one that any gardener can enjoy.
How to Grow Ginseng Indoors to Reap Its Amazing benefits
With all of the health enhancement and life extension that ginseng provides, participating in a home-grown enterprise is an attractive option for gardeners. Doing so indoors means less dependency on times and seasons. At the same time, the task is more labor-intensive when natural conditions are simulated. Nevertheless, the work of ginseng growing is hardly overwhelming whereas the benefits of ginseng are astounding.
Whether you prefer the ginseng that grows on North American soil or that indigenous to Asia, you gain expertise and confidence when you grow it yourself.