What is Ashwagandha?
Withania somnifera, also known as Ashwagandha, Winter Cherry or Indian Ginseng, is a plant from the Nightshade family. It is cultivated heavily in India and is native to parts of the Middle East, the Indian Peninsula, and the Himalayan regions.
Ashwagandha is a short perennial that features elliptical green leaves and small white bell shaped flowers. The flowers grow into lantern like cases, which contain bright red cherries bearing dozens of tiny seeds. The plant is drought tolerant, loves full sun, and is an essential herb in our medicinal garden and food forest. It grows up to 3 feet tall, and can be grown in deep pots. The root is ready to harvest 150 to 180 days after planting, just as the berries have formed and the leaves have begun to yellow. We carefully harvest our Ashwaghandha roots in the fall by digging up the entire plant and separating the roots from the base of the plant. We remove the red berries from their lantern casings then sun dry the roots and the berries separately.
Ashwagandha is simple to grow and thrives with minimal care. Be sure to follow our Sow Exotic care formula for best results.
DID YOU KNOW? Ashwagandha is widely known for its medicinal properties in Ayurvedic medicine; with the root being the most commonly used part. Taken as a tea or in tincture form, it is believed to reduce anxiety and depression, and to help achieve mental clarity.
Recent scientific studies have shown that Ashwaganda's potential medicinal effects are due to the presence of alkaloids and steroidal lactones within the plant. These chemicals may promote anti-inflammatory, anti-tumor, anti-stress, and antioxidant effects. Ashwangandha may also have an overall immune system boosting effect according to several studies. This is a great medicinal plant for any herbalists garden!
Ashwagandha Plant Care: The Do's and Don'ts
Do: Grow in USDA plant hardiness Zones 4+ and Patio Planting Zones 4+. Tip: If you’re growing in Zone 8+, Ashwagandha will grow as an herbaceous perennial. Its leaves and woody stems are killed off by frost but, as long as the soil is not overly wet, its roots remain vital and will sprout new shoots in the spring.
Do: Grow in a dry area that receives as much sun as possible
Do: Grow in sandy, loamy, or clay soil that’s well-drained. pH level should be around 7.5 – 8, neutral to slightly alkaline.
Don’t: Grow in soil that retains moisture and stays waterlogged. The plant will not thrive.
Do: Plant Ashwagandha on a mound of loose soil, this plant grow best this way and the roots are easier to harvest from a big loose mound versus a hard packed low spot.
Don’t: Overwater this herb. Ashwagandha is a water resistant plant so it requires little amounts of water. Only water if the plant seems thirsty.
Don’t: Fertilize. Since the plant roots are usually used for medicinal purposes, it’s best to keep fertilizing to a minimum. If need be, apply organic fertilizer or compost to the base of the plant.
Do: Harvest roots during the Fall and Winter. Usually within 150 – 180 days when berries turn red and leaves begins to dry out.
Dont: Eat the berries or leaves! Ashwagandha is cultivated for its roots only. Always do your own research or consult your healthcare practitioner before ingesting new plants!
Dont: Worry about the smell of the roots….they kinda stink, but that’s ok. Tip: Harvest by digging carefully using small tool. Be sure soil is moist, you’ll need to be careful not to damage the surrounding plants when digging up.