For those of you who picked up an Ashwagandha plant (or those wanting to grow their own) here are a few growing tips and some of the plants health benefits…
These plants need well drained soil. They do not like having soggy roots, so try putting some gravel in the bottom of the pot or the hole you will be planting in. They will like slightly alkaline soil that is poor in organic matter. If they are going into a pot, it might be a good idea to add some sand or extra perlite to the mix, so the soil drains well and isn’t too rich. I have seen suggestions for planting it in a cactus mix, but I am not completely sure about that…maybe half cactus mix and half typical potting soil would be a good idea. (Make sure your potting soil does not have too much additional fertilizers) Let the plant dry out in between watering, as it likes a drier soil.
Ashwagandha loves the heat and will need full sun. They can be susceptible to diseases that other plants in the nightshade family are prone to, so use good rotation methods and don’t plant where you have recently planted tomatoes, potatoes, etc. They will need about a 12 inch space between it and other plants, and can grow up to 3 feet tall. In commercial production, they do not use fertilizers, as it encourages leaf growth and takes away from the root development.
In most areas, Ashwagandha is grown as an annual, but here in the desert it can be grown as a perennial, depending on the severity of seasonal frosts. Root harvest typically happens when the plant dies back due to the first frost of the fall, but in a warmer climate, it can be anywhere from when the plant is 100 days to 200 days old. I have read that it is a good time to harvest when the plant has given fruit (the fruit is not used in herbal medicine and I am not sure about its toxicity) and the leaves begin to die back a little. This will be the first year I have grown this plant, so we will all be learning together. Please share your experiences (whether successful or not) so we can learn from each other’s mistakes!
Ashwagandha is a very popular herb that is beginning to be overharvested in its native environment (according to Mountain Rose Herbs.) Luckily, we have the perfect climate to grow it here in the desert and it would be so wonderful if we could supply it to ourselves, our families, and maybe someday more!
This herb is extremely important for our modern society, and helps with many stressed induced illnesses. It is a true adaptogenic herb, meaning it helps the whole body system better adapt to physical, emotional, and environmental stress. It is a rejuvenating tonic, used to replenish reproductive functions, soothe the nervous system, and calm inflammation.