Can I Grow Ginseng at Home?
Yes, you can grow ginseng at home. A lot of people do it in the regions where ginseng grows naturally, especially as a way of stewarding ginseng in regions where the plant once thrived.
Ginseng used to be plentiful in the United States and southern Canada, but the ‘gold rush’ of ginseng in the colonial era left the population on the decline. Ginseng is typically planted on slightly acidic but rich soil slopes with hardwoods to provide a deep 80% shade on the ground.
Can You Grow Ginseng Indoors?
After reading the first edition of the ginseng book, a couple of people reached out and asked whether ginseng can be grown indoors, or even hydroponically.
While it’s certainly not the most popular method, if you want a ginseng companion to keep you company on your window sill, you absolutely can. A lot of people have differing opinions about what the best indoor care for ginseng is because it’s such an uncommon houseplant.
Because the plant goes dormant naturally, you should still expect it to die back every winter, and don’t be afraid to let it get some cold weather after it’s gone dormant. Plant in slightly acidic but rich and well-draining soil. Care for it much like you would if it were outdoors, allowing it to get north, northeastern, or eastern sunlight, but never direct sun.
How Long Does It Take for Ginseng to Grow?
Once planted in the fall and allowed to cold stratify over the winter, ginseng seeds can take up to 18 months to properly germinate.
After ginseng begins to grow, you may find that the plant doesn’t have berries until 2-3 years after it germinates. A lot of people may take this as a sign of maturity, as it can now reproduce; but if your goal is to harvest, then you shouldn’t touch it just yet. Ginseng is considered “young but mature” between 5 and 8 years, or “mature” at 10 years or older.
Is it Legal to Grow Your Own Ginseng?
Yes, it is legal to grow your own ginseng on property that you own, or have permission to grow on. Where you source the seeds or rootlets is regulated, however, which means you’ll need to get in touch with your local fish and wildlife or agricultural department for up-to-date information. The harvest of wild ginseng plants is regulated or downright illegal in some states, though this doesn’t account for cultivated ginseng on private property.
How Much is an Acre of Ginseng Worth?
Some sources online state that it’s possible to net as high as $38,000 per acre with woodland planting. That’s pretty good, considering it’s a low expensive to start the seeds and care for them year after year. As long as you aren’t growing them in a monoculture, you can pretty much let the ginseng grow on its own without looking after it too hard. Mixing ginseng with other plants means you’ll get a crash-course in identifying ginseng over some of its lookalikes, though.
Is Growing Ginseng Worth It?
Is growing ginseng worth it? Well, that depends on your goal.
If your goal is to steward a plot of land with ginseng on it, then yes. There’s nothing more rewarding than seeing ginseng pop out of the ground year after year in a thriving ecosystem.
As a monetary crop, it doesn’t do well, but people still try to grow ginseng as a cash-grab crop. A lot of people will talk about the money when they’re discussing ginseng plots, but it doesn’t often take into account the 5 to 10 years of stewardship it takes to get the root to a saleable point.
Keep in mind that not all the ginseng in a square acre will thrive. Modern flatland agriculture has spoiled a lot of urban farmers, thinking an acre of land is equal to an acre of crop. Light, soil, and slope conditions must all be right for ginseng to thrive. Furthermore, you’ll have to set up security measures to prevent poachers and deal with browsing animals.
Learn More About Ginseng
Ginseng used to be one of the most sought-after plants, and now it’s faced with a declining population bordering on extinction. Still, it fascinates many people, and continues to grow in demand, which means this plant’s number one threat continues to be poachers looking for fast money.
As unfortunate as the situation may be, knowledge is the first step to stewardship. If you’d like to learn more about ginseng and how you can protect or ethically grow this plant, search for Ginseng on the HerbSpeak website. You’ll learn more about ginseng than you ever thought possible for such as small woodland plant.