How to Grow Wild American Ginseng

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American ginseng, known botanically as Panax quinquefolius, is a herbaceous perennial herb whose roots are thought to have medicinal benefits. According to the University of Illinois Extension, the first recorded mention of medicinal ginseng dates to 1 B.C. The term "wild American ginseng" is reserved for naturally growing ginseng that has not been cultivated; this type of ginseng commands a high market price. Follow these instructions to grow "wild" American ginseng in your own home garden.

Things You'll Need

  • Peat moss
  • Aged manure
  • Well-rotted compost
  • Shovel or tiller
  • Bowl
  • Household bleach
  • Distilled, filtered or spring water
  • Hand rake
  • Choose a planting location for your American ginseng that mimics the conditions of the plant's natural environment. Look for a shaded planting area with rich, moist and well-draining soil.

  • Cover the surface of the soil at your planting area with 4 inches of equal parts peat moss, aged manure and well-rotted compost. Use a shovel or tiller to work the organic amendments into the top 4 to 6 inches of soil.

  • Soak American ginseng seeds in a solution of 10 percent bleach and 90 percent distilled, filtered or spring water for at least 1/2 hour to kill any damaging fungus spores. Rinse the seeds in cool, clean water before sowing them.

  • Distribute the seeds evenly over the prepared planting area. Rake the surface of the planting area with a hand rake to cover the seeds with no more than a 1/2 inch of soil.

  • Tend your American ginseng as little as possible to cultivate "wild" American ginseng. Pull any weeds in your planting area, as needed, to ensure that the ginseng is the sole recipient of the natural irrigation and soil nutrients.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you don't care about growing strictly "wild" American ginseng, water the plants as often as necessary to maintain moist soil. Fertilize the ginseng at the beginning of each growing season with a half-strength solution of a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer to give it a nutrient boost.
  • It will be three to four years before your American ginseng is mature and ready to harvest.

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