Ginseng Seeds and Roots

Soil Requirements

Ginseng requires well-drained soil as standing water may lead to root rot and diseases Consider planting on a slight slope for best drainage (terrace to prevent erosion). Amend with compost.

Planting - seeds

Plant the seeds as soon as possible after receiving them. If planting must be delayed, never allow the seeds to dry out. They should be kept cool and damp, but not wet. For longer storage use a plastic bucket in a cool basement with a damp cloth on top of the seeds, covered with a lid.

The fall is the best time to plant, preferably just before the leaves fall. Density of planting is very important. There needs to be enough space to ensure airflow, to reduce competition for moisture, nutrients and sunlight, and to help control the spread of disease. Plant seed approximately one-half inch deep. Space seeds one to six inches apart, in rows six to nine inches apart. In a mixed bed with other companion plants and ferns, a minimum of 1–1/2 feet between plants is needed, and three to five feet is recommended.

Planting - roots

Plant the roots as soon as possible after receiving them. If they need to be held for only a day or two, put them in plastic bags in the refrigerator. Open the bags daily to aerate, check for mold and add a few drops of water if they start to feel dry. For longer temporary storage, cover the roots with four to six inches of damp peat or loose soil in a container and store in a cool place.

Plant roots at an angle (30 to 45 degrees from the vertical) in well prepared soil with the bud just below the soil surface. Plant three to twelve inches apart in rows six to twelve inches apart.


We recommend a leaf mulch to help retain moisture, keep the soil cool, and for slow-release fertility. Mulch should be applied to the beds immediately after planting.

Pest Control

Fungal diseases may be soil, air, or water-borne. The best defense is spacing the plants for air-flow and preparing well drained beds. Studies indicate a horsetail spray in the spring or goldenseal spray in the fall may reduce fungal problems. Deer, wild turkey, livestock, ground squirrels, squirrels, voles, mice, and slugs all may impact ginseng production.

Adapted from:
The News-Record, Marshall, N.C. Thursday, November 25, 1999.
Care and Planting of Ginseng Seed and Roots, Revised 3/02, Jeanine M. Davis, Extension Horticultural Specialist, Department of Horticultural Science, College of Agriculture & Life Sciences, North Carolina State University