Wintering Ololiuqui, Growing Goldenseal
Answered by: Inge Poot
Question from : Buddy K.

I live in Northern Virginia, USA. I bought one Mexican morning glory (Ololiuqui). I planted it in the sun and the vine is huge. However, it is not flowering. Does this vine flower the first year? I suspect it is not cold hardy, so do you think it would be worthwhile to cut it way back before the 1st frost and replant in a pot inside for the winter?

This plant is a tender perennial and therefore is not likely to bloom the first year. Overwintering it the way you suggested will be a good idea. The plant will get less of a shock each year if you plant it in a big pot and plant it pot and all in the spring. It will then not get shocked roots in the fall.

I also purchased 2 goldenseal roots. The information I found online said they did best in 80% shade, so I planted them on the north side of the house in an area where this is about what they receive (not flush against the house where they will get almost no sunlight). The plant never turned green, but instead was greenish-yellow. It grew about a foot, put out a few leaves, then quit growing. Now it is turning brown and dying. Is this too much shade, did the hot, humid climate do it in, or is this what the plant does naturally? Or does it need a different soil?

Interestingly, I bought a Siberian ginseng also and broke the plant, or it arrived broken, a few inches up the stem. I planted it in partial shade under a tree canopy, it recovered from the damage, and it is doing quite well.

The soil beside the house is bound to be very alkaline from the lime leaching into it from the house wall. As a result the plant suffered from severe iron deficiency -and probably deficiencies of other nutrients it could not take up as well. If it is not dead, the soil must be changed to have it come back at all. If it must stay close to the house, line the wall with plastic to prevent it from leaching lime into the soil and also change the soil to something taken from a decidous forest floor. A large replacement area will be necessary. I would suggest a 50cm by 50cm surface and down about 30 cm. Working some peat moss into the soil surface each year and mulching the soil with leaves will help greatly to maintain the desired soil pH and microflora.

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