American Ginseng Container Growing
Answered by: Inge Poot
Question from: Matt Edgren
Posted on: November 2, 1999

I recently bought some American ginseng seeds from you, and am still not quite sure on how best to grow them. I am currently living in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA, and the winters are often very cold. Would it be alright for me to plant them outside this fall, and if so could I plant them into pots or do they need to be planted into the ground.

American ginseng is rated as hardy in zones 4 to 8. Utah has areas with zones anywhere from 4 to 7. Therefore this ginseng can be planted outside anywhere in Utah as long as the seed or the container it is in, is buried in the ground. Any container left unburied will experience temperatures at the root zone as if the pot were 2 zones further north. In other words if you live in zone 4 any pot left sitting out of the ground will experience zone 2 temperatures. The reason for that is that the heat of the earth’s interior slowly rises to the surface and as a result the roots will be much warmer than the air temperature. A pot sitting out in the open gets none of that soil heat and gets much colder.

For American ginseng you have to be at least in zone 6 to be able to leave the pots exposed during the winter. In the summer the pots should be immersed in mulch to simulate the cool mulched conditions the plants experience in their native woodland habitat. They need sun in spring but only dappled sun during the summer. For this reason they do not do well in evergreen forests. They may even be susceptible to fungal attack from fungi growing on foliage they would not be in contact with in their natural habitat. Using maple or oak leaves for the mulch would be safest.

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