As more people seek out ancient wisdom to maintain health and heal diseases, the interest in herbs, roots and other botanical medicines grows in tandem. With the rise of health care costs and reduction in access, the idea of simple, affordable therapies becomes all the more appealing. Enter ginseng, a root receiving accolades among many ill and infirm patients. Actually, this plant benefits from several studies that credit its power to fight off cancer and heart disease; reduce high blood pressure and menopausal complications; and even cure erectile dysfunction. Best of all, you can learn how to grow ginseng in your own house.
Types of Ginseng
When it comes to growing a ginseng plant, it helps to know which of the ginseng plants you are growing. Ginseng plants are short with fleshy roots that can be identified into two main types: Korean and American.
Korean Ginseng is also known as red ginseng, Panax ginseng, or Asian ginseng. This originated from Eastern Asia. Red ginseng production has increased in Korea after it was found out that it can treat impotence in men. Red ginseng plants are harvested after at least 6 years. Man people consider this the original ginseng.
American Ginseng or Panax quinquefoilus is known for helping to fight fatigue and boost energy levels. The wild American ginseng roots can be found growing in American national parks. Wild American ginseng plants cost a lot of money. Moreover, the American ginseng plant was discovered by native Americans.
Fresh ginseng plants are typically cultivated before four years. However, the wild ginseng plant is now endangered making it illegal for wild ginseng plants to be harvested.
Benefits of Ginseng
But before anything else, these are the different benefits of ginseng as it is considered one of the best medicinal plants.
- Ginseng seed extracts have anti-inflammation properties especially red ginseng seed extracts
- Improve brain function
- Treat erectile dysfunction
- Improve immune system
- Increase energy (especially the American ginseng)
- Lower blood sugar levels
Choose between Seeds and Seedlings
As we will see, growing ginseng is a marathon, not a sprint. One determinative factor regarding the duration of its growth is whether the gardener plants stratified seeds or seedlings. Understandably, seedlings require less time since they are post-germination and partially grown. Of course, a plant already growing will have some extra cost built into the purchase price so prepare to pay extra. Time versus money is the choice.
On the other hand, ginseng seeds must be stratified, i.e. stored in a moist medium at varying temperatures for several months before being usable. Should you choose to grow the root from its very origin, research the dealers to make sure you obtain quality seed. This will ensure the success of each step in how to grow ginseng.
Select Growing Medium
It is important to note in growing ginseng is that ginseng root grows well in media dominated by either soil or peat. Good drainage is key to a successful yield, a counter-intuitive reality since ginseng thrives in moisture. A positive variable is that weed competition is non-existent since the ginseng is growing indoors.
If the soil is preferred, it is best to choose a granular, sandy variety. Still, horticulturalists advise adding a small amount of coal dust (lignite fines) to the medium—whether soil or peat—as it helps to pulverize the particles better. Gardeners can find peat in its purest form or mixed with lignite fines (and a little soil) at many commercial nurseries. Some growers mix in hardwood chips and other agents that further aid drainage.
Locate Plants Optimally
A discussion of how to grow ginseng is not complete without mentioning sunlight. Of course, some light is essential to its maturity but prolonged, and direct sunlight can be fatal. In fact, some research indicates that home-grown ginseng is more robust in a light less than the ambient sunlight afforded wild ginseng. Always remember when growing ginseng indoors, a shaded area of the house or even a basement with a narrow window high on the wall will serve the plant thoroughly.
To be sure, replicating the light and temperature of wild ginseng environments is a safe strategy for locating the growing space. A cool room, modestly lit and mildly humid will accommodate these roots and be a primary resource when learning how to grow ginseng.
Give the Plants Space
When the time comes to actually plant the seed or seedlings, find containers with adequate drainage reservoirs of one foot in depth. If planting stratified seeds, place them at a depth of one and one-half inches beneath the medium surface; planting roots should go deeper—three inches is best. Most growth, remember, is downward.
Each plant should have its own room, that is, its own pot or container. Once planted, the medium receives a thin cover of moistened mulch. If you were planting them outside, you would need to give the plants three inches on each side. Thus, allowing them to fill out their pots individually is a good rule of thumb when discovering how to grow ginseng indoors.
When growing outdoors, ginseng needs little tending unless the climate is excessively dry. However, when cultivating this herb in the house, gardeners should be meticulous about irrigation. Keeping the soil or peat lightly moist requires little more than a spray bottle. After a couple of years, though, the roots are larger and thirstier so a drip irrigation system may address the matter better.
An alternative to soil or peat, by the way, is to find how to grow ginseng hydroponically. Whatever technique you prefer, it is important not to neglect to supply the roots with adequate amounts of water.
Harvest with Patience
As noted above, ginseng is more slow cooker than a microwave. Five years is often the minimum wait until harvesting is ideal, though some gardeners will extend to twice that time. A hand trowel or soil knife can easily extract the root from the pot. Harvesters, nevertheless, should take caution lest they damage the root in the process.
Once removed and washed, the ginseng root is ready to eat immediately (or get brewed in tea). Otherwise, the root is often dried, cut up and stored for future use. In this state, ginseng enjoys extended longevity. At this stage, gardeners are fully educated in how to grow ginseng indoors.
Save the Seeds
Above the ground, the ginseng plant produces flowers which, in turn, produce berries containing seed. These berries ripen from green to red in hue. At this point, seeds are removed and then stratified for future planting.
Having learned how to grow ginseng indoors, you might try doing so in a backyard garden. Ascertaining differences in taste and potency is both interesting and fun. Alternatively, you can begin another indoor crop from the stratified seeds. Either way, you have an endless supply of ginseng if you collect the berries.
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.