This article will help you figure out when and where to plant ginseng by helping you understand the habitat where ginseng naturally grows.
When to Plant Ginseng
The best time to plant seeds is after it cools off in fall. In the Ozarks we begin planting in late October. We plant all during winter as long as there’s no ice or snow and the ground isn’t frozen. When you first get your seeds you should put them in the refrigerator. Only take out as many as you intend to plant and carry that portion with you out to the woods. That way, if you accidentally dump or lose the bag, you’ve only lost a small portion of your seeds.
Later in the winter the seeds will begin to sprout even inside the bag in the refrigerator. You can still plant them, but be extra careful not to break off the sprout. When the seeds are like this they’re called “smiling”.
In spring after the seedlings have emerged you can transplant them to different locations if you have some that are too close together.
When to Scout Planting Locations
Summer is the best time to scout out places to plant. That’s when you can see if the undergrowth is too thick or the sun too bright. This is also when you’ll be able to find the plants that grow where ginseng grows. These are called “companion plants”.
- black cohosh
- maidenhair fern (my best indicator)
- christmas fern
- doll’s eyes
- rattlesnake or grape fern (also called sang pointers)
Where to Plant Ginseng
Look for the deep shade and the cool, moist woods.
♥ It likes a certain mix of trees:
- oak (but not too many)
- hickory (but not too many)
- other deciduous trees with leaves that break down easily
♥ What does ginseng need?
- tall shade (which is given by tall trees of a mature forest)
- loamy soil (preferably with high Calcium levels and low pH)
- good air flow (on the lower end of a hill is best, but I’ve planted higher)
- morning sun is what it likes (dappled by the trees), north-facing slope best of all but mine do well on west-facing slopes
The very best location will have all the right conditions, but it’s not a lost cause if you can’t meet them all. I’ve planted in various places to test the suitability and found some surprises. The ones I planted under a cedar tree are doing pretty good and I’d always heard they don’t like cedars.
Here’s another page of mine that talks about when to plant ginseng seed, rootlet, or plants.