Korean Ginseng: Growing and Care

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korean ginseng

Korean Ginseng plant is popular and notable for its healing properties and has long been associated with some of the most healing traditions in the world.

There are two main varieties of ginseng that are most commonly used: Asian Ginseng or Panax Ginseng which is native to Manchuria and Korea.

And the other one is American Ginseng or Panax Quinquefolius which grows throughout the United States and parts of Canada.

You can use both in traditional medication.

However, the bulk of the crops is dried and exported to Hong Kong where it is processed into spices used throughout Southeast Asia.

Moreover, it is an herbaceous perennial root of a plant belonging to the Panax family which is the part of ivy family.

Keep on reading to learn more about Korean Ginseng.

Fast Facts about Korean Ginseng

Some fast facts about Korean ginseng are:

Common Name American ginseng, Asain ginseng
Botanical Name Panax quinquefolius
Plant Type Deciduous perennial
Size 8–24 in. tall, 8–12 in. wide
Sun Exposure Partial shade, shade
Soil Type Moist but well-drained
Soil pH Acidic
Bloom Time Summer
Flower Color Greenish white
Hardiness Zones 3–7 (USDA)
Native Area North America, Asia

Planting Korean Ginseng

Due to its value in the world marketplace, there are strict laws in the countries like the United States about harvesting ginseng where it grows in the wild.

Due to this, native ginseng is now fairly rare to encounter in the wild.

However, you can successfully cultivate it in woodland with the right care and adherence to guidelines.

When to Plant

Growing Korean Ginseng at home, whether in the ground or in containers will take a great deal of patience.

This is due to the fact that you should not harvest the plant before they are at least three years old.

Moreover, Korean ginseng seeds in fall to early winters, and you will need to have stratified seeds that have already shed their outer layers.

It will help speed up their germination process drastically.

korean ginseng 1

Selecting a Planting Site

As Korean Ginseng is happy to grow naturally, in comparison to cultivation, it is important to learn how it mimics its native habitat and conditions if you want to grow it successfully.

Moreover, you will want to select a shady, low-traffic, preferably one at the edge of the forest, area.

Also, the soil should be rich, well-draining, and full of organic matter, with an acidic pH level.

Spacing, Depth, and Support

It is important to note that you will need to sow ginseng plant at the depth of about 1 inch into rich soil and spacing should be at least 15 to 20 inches apart.

While planting, make sure to remove anything in the surrounding area that may impede the root growth of the ginseng.

This includes large tree stumps or rocks.

Light and Soil Requirments

Korean ginseng will grow best in partial to full shade under a woodland canopy.

Too much sunlight, however, can increase competition from other plants.

For this reason, make sure to have longer-lived tree species like sugar maple, black walnut, and tulip popular that have fuller leaf canopies to be a part of the ginseng habitat than short-lived species.

Moreover, a forest or woodland site with 75% shade is recommended by experts.

It is important to note that ginseng will grow best in soils that are moist and well-draining, with plenty of organic matter and calcium.

The trees mentioned above tend to release calcium into the soil.

Also, the site should not be too wet, so flat sites that have a history of flooding are not suitable for growing Korean ginseng.

Furthermore, leaf litter is a good natural mulch and nutrient for ginseng to plant where leaf litter is plentiful.

Ginseng will not grow in heavy compacted or clay soil.

Water, Temperature, and Other Requirments

Korean ginseng tends to like moist soil and its preference for shady sites means it will receive an adequate amount of moisture from its surrounding.

Moreover, it is important when planting to choose a spot that will mimic the preferred native locations of ginseng.

Adding a little bit of peat moss and leaf litter compost will help to create good drainage and moisture retention.

It will not require extra watering except in drought conditions.

korean ginseng 2

It is important to note that ginseng does not like hot temperatures, and you cannot grow in zones higher than 7.

Furthermore, humidity in woodland settings tends to remain fairly consistent and it should not be planted in sites that are too damp.

Or places that are subject to standing water or flooding in the rainy season are not suitable for ginseng.

If you choose a site with good rich soil ginseng plants will not need fertilizers for their growth.

In fact, it may overburn them and affect their healthy growth.

Harvesting Korean Ginseng

Harvesting Korean ginseng is a delicate process and you should do it with great care to avoid damaging its roots.

Follow the steps below to harvest it:

Loosen the Soil: Lossen the soil around the Korean ginseng plant and gently pull it up from the ground, carefully removing the excess dirt from the roots.

You can either collect the ripe berries from the plant or plant them where you remove the root to grow more ginseng.

Wash the Ginseng: Run the plant root under cool water and gently rub away the soil taking care, not to tear or break the roots.

Dry the Plant: Air dry the plant on a rack in a warm environment and out of direct sunlight for at least 2 weeks.

Do this until the inside of the ginseng roots turns white.

Drying and Storing Ginseng Root

There are different ways to dry ginseng roots for storage.

Different ways involve different drying methods using fans, stoves, heaters, and dehumidifiers.

For small harvests, you can use a commercial herb drying system, however, they will not work for large root harvests.

However, for large drying systems available on the market, the prices can be exorbitant.

Whichever drying method you choose, the most important thing is to dry the plant in time.

It is important to note that when you allow ginseng too much dry time, it can cause mold issues.

Moreover, there are two elements you need to understand to dry ginseng perfectly.

storing them

These are:

  • temperature
  • ventilation or air circulation

Before drying wash off the freshly harvested ginseng roots at a low-pressure water volume.

Make sure to never use water pressure or scrubbing to clean the roots as it can bruise or damage the root.

Often you can place ginseng roots in drying racks or screens to provide good airflow.

Spread the roots out so that they do not touch each other.

Occasionally rotate the roots to make sure they are drying equally on all surfaces.

Furthermore, keep the temperature between 70 and 100 degrees.

It is important to note that temperature, humidity, weather, and drying method all play a crucial role in the time ginseng root needs to dry.

Once they dry, they are ready for storage, place them into paper bags or boxes.

Never store them in plastic bags or containers as plastic can raise humidity levels and cause root rot in storage to develop mold.

Other Varieties of Ginseng

Other than Korean Ginseng, there are two main varieties you can consume.

The most popular types of ginseng are:

Panax quinquefolius: American Ginseng is native to North America especially southeastern Canada and the Central United States.

The roots and leaves of these plants are used in native American medicine.

Panax japonicus: Japanese ginseng is another type of ginseng, you can find it in China and Japan.

Moreover, it has been used as a healing vitamin for over 2,000 years.

Propagating Korean Ginseng

You can only propagate ginseng by seed.

You cannot create a new plant from cuttings or root divisions.

Moreover, propagation from the seed can be difficult and you will need to stratify the seed before sowing them.

The easiest way to add a ginseng plant is to buy an already established plant.

The age of the plant you buy will help find how long you will have to wait for the plant to mature and develop roots large enough to harvest.

Furthermore, the older and more established the plant is, the closer it will be to maturity and the smaller amount of time you will have to wait to harvest it.

Garden Pests and Diseases

One of the important things to note about ginseng plants is that they tend to have problems with a few fungal diseases, especially when they have been exposed to poor soil and overcrowded conditions with inadequate air circulation.

While the common garden diseases to trouble ginseng are:

You can prevent these diseases by giving your plants the best care and providing them with preferred growing conditions.

Moreover, providing each of your ginseng plants with plenty of space and ample air circulation, as well as conditions similar to the natural habitat of the plant will help reduce the chance of disease.

Most of the diseases that attach to ginseng are fungal diseases, so you may want to keep some fungicide on hand to spray at home at first sign of infection.

However, two garden pests that attack ginseng are slugs and cutworms.

diseases and pests

For these, 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.

However, other organic methods to control slugs are picking them off by hand and drying them out by mulching with sawdust.

On the other hand, cutworms can destroy leaf tissue and leave an unsightly mess in your garden beds.

You can manage them with the help of pesticides.

While other insects may also attack ginseng, they, however, do not cause significant damage.

Larger pests like mice are known to beat you to harvest, eating the roots of the plant before they mature.

Deer can annihilate the entire ginseng crop.

Final Thoughts

Korean ginseng is one of the common varieties of ginseng plants you can grow. The use of ginseng plants dates back thousands of years back to ancient China and Japan.

In traditional Chinese medicine, TCM is used to provide energy and mental focus, increase sexual drive, and performance, and treat anxiety by lowering stress. Moreover, it also helps to lengthen lifespan, increase vitality, regulate body systems, improve cognitive function, restore qi, i.e. vital energy, prevent diseases, and slow the effects of aging.

Though growing ginseng can be challenging, if you provide plenty of shade to thrive and consistently moist soil, they will grow. However, more sun exposure will make the plant need more water and it can take up to 5 to 10 years for the plant to fully mature and become ready to harvest. Keep an eye out for weeds sprouting in your beds and container and pull up any appear. Lay out a 2-inch layer of mulch to deter weeds and pests, and to improve air circulation.

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