The roots medicinal plants native to the hardwood forest biome of the eastern US reside at the foundation of western herbalism. These include black cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa), blue cohosh (Caulophyllum thalictroides), bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis), ginseng (Panax quinquefolius), mayapple (Podophyllum thalictroides), solomon’s seal (Polygonatum biflorum), stoneroot (Collinsonia canadensis) and wild yam (Dioscorea sp.) Please note that roots sold through this website are certified organic, nursery propagated stock, not taken from the wild. We have been engaged in growing these fine species for over 30 years and love to collect their seeds, make divisions and grow them in our woodlands and shade gardens.
The main requirement for growing forest roots is an understanding of habitat (woodland soils or shade garden in the shade to part sun) coupled with an understanding of plant cycles (these are primarily spring ephemerals that do best when planted as bare roots in the fall, allowed to overwinter, flowering in the spring). Forest roots are best suited to Zones 3 to 8, and will thrive best in soils of high humic content under a thick mulch of hardwood leaves.
We sell dormant forest roots starting in September until our ground freezes, usually in December. Ordering roots from us during this time period is your most economical approach to establishing these valuable plants in your woodland or shade garden, and also the best way to assure success. Far from remaining dormant during the colder months, the roots actually send out feeder rootlets at this time, digging into their new home, swelling and becoming fixed in place. Then in the spring, they go about their business of flowering, making stems and leaves, and happily producing fruits that can continue to spread and naturalize, which is what we all desire!
Upon receipt, you may store the roots in their packaging in the refrigerator for a short time until it is convenient to plant them. To plant, go to your desired spot, rake away the mulch until the bare mineral soil is exposed, dig a small hole, nestle the root down in there with the rootlets going down and the buds pointing up, cover with soil, pat down, then cover over again with the mulch. If there is no indigenous mulch, then provide mulch in the form of well-rotted hardwood leaves or typical organic compost, covering the plants to a depth of about 2 inches. Then, water in the root one time and after that, leave the spot alone—the fall rains and the winter snows will continue to nourish the plant. You can drive in a stake next to the plant if you want—this may help keep people or other animals from treading on it, and will help you identify your new plant when it arises in the spring. Plants set into the shade garden in this manner rarely require upkeep during the growing cycle, which is one of the nicest aspects of naturalizing medicinal herbs in this manner. If you live in the western states or at elevation, you will have to water the plants during the summer, otherwise they won’t be happy. If you live in Kentucky and you get a rainstorm coming through every week, you will not have to water!
We offer ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) in seed form only, from September to December, or until the seed runs out. The seed is planted in the fall for germination and growth in the spring. This is by far the best approach to growing ginseng, as rootlets transplanted to a new location tend to rot.
We offer saffron (Crocus sativus) bulbs from our own production, starting in September through to Thanksgiving. Upon receipt, plant the bulb 3 inches deep and 6 inches apart. Choose a sunny, somewhat dry exposure for the saffron. These bulbs will make aerial parts soon after planting, and usually flower in the fall of the second year. They remain dormant through the summer.