Growing Goldenseal: Propagation, Plant Care, and Growing Conditions!

Goldenseal is a very popular herb today. More than 50 million goldenseal plants are being collected annually from the wild.

This herb has many benefits. According to some recent studies, it may even have the ability to clean out infections.

Goldenseal is native to North America and rarely found elsewhere. Native Americans have been using this plant for centuries, which is why it has gained so much fame.

The demand for this herb has been on a steady rise. As a result, agricultural businesses have developed an interest in growing it. While these businesses have tried to cultivate it, many of their attempts have been less than successful.

Growing Goldenseal
A Top View of a Goldenseal Leaf and Its Berry

Let’s jump right into it!

Growing Goldenseal is a Bit Challenging

For several reasons, cultivation of goldenseal requires stamina and patience.

Goldenseal Wants to Feel Special:

The growing conditions for this herb are somewhat unique. It needs periods of dormancy and a lot of shade.

Some of the tasks required to grow goldenseal include:

  • Regulating and watching external factors
  • Finding a shady location
  • Mulching and top-dressing with organic matter
  • Caring for the sensitive sprouts.

Goldenseal can be grown from seeds, rhizomes, or roots. Propagation from seeds is unreliable and unpredictable. But this method is the most sustainable way of growing the plant.

This process needs extra attention. Sometimes it may even take as long as two years for the seeds to germinate.

Propagating goldenseal from rhizomes is easier. It requires less effort and attention, but it is still a delicate process.

 “Take it Slow” Goldenseal:

Besides these factors, you must wait four to six years before gathering the root of your goldenseal. Although that’s a long time, it’s still better than harvesting from the wild.

The method of cultivation can affect the duration a great deal. If you’re growing your goldenseal from seeds, it may take about five to six years before you can harvest the roots. Using rhizomes, though, can shorten that time to three years.

Goldenseal, a Vulnerable Plant:

Today, the natural population of this plant has dropped by more than half. At this point, environmentalists consider it to be an endangered herb.

I cannot overemphasize the importance of cultivating your own goldenseal. Do not pick it from the wild.

Goldenseal

It’s also important to know from where you’re getting the rhizomes and roots. Farms that cultivate organic plants are the best source.

But, please, avoid digging up wild goldenseal root or buying it from someone who does so.

The Process of Growing Goldenseal:

Now, let’s move to the details of growing goldenseal and how to achieve a healthy yield.

Growing Goldenseal from Seed:

  • Finding a reliable source of seeds is essential. Seeds allowed to dry too much will have a lower germination rate.

Don’t be shy when you find a company that you suspect has the best seeds. Message or call them and ask questions like: How do you get your seeds? How do you store your seeds? When were the seeds harvested?

The younger the seeds are, the better. After buying, it’s necessary to store them in a cool environment.

  • Now you have found a trusted source. Take your purchased seeds, and you should stratify and store them in the fridge as soon as possible.

The best way to do this is by mixing the seeds with moist sand and sealing the container with plastic wrap. After that, you can refrigerate them for several weeks.

Goldenseal seeds in sand
Moist Sand Keeps Seeds Viable for Germination
  • When it comes to goldenseal, there’s not a lot to it. It would be best if you depended on natural conditions and change in seasons without regulation. It’s easy: immerse the seeds 0.5 inches (1.3 cm) deep into a light soil mix in early spring.

Try not to control the temperature. Regulating the temperature when growing goldenseal in a confined space can be tricky. In case they don’t sprout their first season, the seeds need to go dormant in winter. Attempting to grow them in a regulated tent or grow room could prevent this from happening.

That doesn’t mean you can’t grow goldenseal indoors. Find any indoor space where the temperature fluctuates, and the air circulates, and you’re good to go.

  • Keep the soil moist and cover it with a layer of mulch (shredded bark or compost) during fall and winter. Thin that layer in early spring, when the seeds are about to germinate.

It’s also important to keep your seeds in a shaded area away from direct sunlight.

  • If you want to transfer the seedlings into different containers, do that when they’re one year old.

Growing Goldenseal from Rhizomes:

Rhizomes look something like swollen roots. They have different fibrous root systems extending from them. To better understand what a rhizome is, think of fresh ginger as an example.

The ginger we consume is the plant’s rhizome. Of course, our goldenseal rhizome isn’t as big or swollen as ginger, but the general form is pretty much the same. 

Ginger Rhizome
Ginger is a Rhizome

Most gardeners agree on at least one thing: growing goldenseal from rhizomes is the most effective way of cultivating the plant.

Here are the steps to be successful:

  • Finding a reliable source for goldenseal rhizomes is very important. This is every bit as essential as when procuring the seeds.

First, make sure the party supplying you with the rhizomes didn’t dig them up in the wild.

Second, try to get a whole rhizome and not a pre-cut one. It’s better for you to cut the rhizome yourself to make sure each piece is viable for germination.

Finally, the rhizome should have all its root systems attached to it.

  • Cut the rhizome into several pieces that are at least 0.5 inches (1.3 cm) long.

VERY IMPORTANT! Each piece of rhizome should have most of its fibrous roots intact and at least one growth bud attached to it.

Plant the rhizome pieces in your container or growing bed, with their buds facing up. Then cover them with a little bit of soil, so you don’t leave them exposed.

It’s okay to grow many of your rhizomes together in a big container. But make sure they’re at least seven inches (approximately 18 cm) apart from each other.

  • Top-dress your soil with at least one or two inches of organic matter in fall and winter. Be diligent. You’ll want to have a much thinner layer in spring. Also, try to keep the soil a little moist at all times.
Shredded Wood Can Be Used As Mulch

The plants will sprout in the spring, for the most part.

Growing Goldenseal from Fibrous Roots is a Very Bad Idea!

There’s also a third way to propagate goldenseal, which is from the fibrous roots of the herb.

The buds that grow on the rhizome also grow on some of the solid fibrous roots of the plant. You can immerse these bud-growing roots in the soil, to try to propagate new goldenseal plants.

Many gardeners agree that this manner of propagation is quite unreliable. The majority of goldenseal gardeners have had nothing positive to report on this method. They’ve had terrible luck growing the plant from fibrous roots, on the whole.

If you were unable to grow goldenseal from fibrous roots, it would be a significant loss of resources. So, I will skip this method, especially since goldenseal is very rare these days.

Caring for Goldenseal

After your seedlings have sprouted, here’s what you should look after:

 Soil

Goldenseal prefers soil that is rich with humus (soil decomposed organic matter).

You also want your soil to be well drained because goldenseal can’t tolerate a very wet medium.

It’s also important to make sure the soil pH is in the range of 6 to 6.5. If not, your herbs may grow too slow or fast, making them susceptible to diseases.

Shading:

Goldenseal needs a shady area to grow big and healthy. Indirect sunlight indoors is good. It’s better to use a 75%–80% shade cloth. You can place it against direct sunlight and put your goldenseal plants under it.

Fertilization and Top-dressing:

You must focus on fertilizing your goldenseal with the proper material. This will help keep the soil rich with food for your plant.

Goldenseal prefers substances with high nitrogen counts. So, using vermicompost (worm castings) would be ideal.

Vermiculture

Top-dress the soil in dormant seasons with one to two inches of vermicompost. Be sure to thin that layer in growing seasons.

Disease Management:

In its natural habitat, goldenseal isn’t susceptible to many diseases. But this plant becomes more prone to fatal diseases when cultivated.

As with humans, prevention is the best way to deal with such an issue.

Choosing the right site to grow your goldenseal is a very decisive factor. There shouldn’t be too much humidity, heat, or cold. There should be enough shade for this sensitive plant. These conditions are crucial for protecting goldenseal from illness.

It’s important not to push your goldenseal into growing slower of faster than it should. By not waiting the appropriate amount of time, you’re making things easier for pathogenic microorganisms.

Harvesting Your Goldenseal Root:

Wait for four to five years of growth from seedlings or rhizomes. At this point, your goldenseal will be ready for harvest.

Dig up the whole plant’s root system and rinse it with water. Then leave it to dry before storing. If you try to put your goldenseal in a container while it’s still wet, it will grow mold.

Shovel to dig up the root

That’s basically what you need to know about growing goldenseal!
Don’t forget to share your thoughts, questions, and experiences with growing goldenseal in the comments below!

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