Herb Profile – Ashwagandha
Ashwagandha is native to India, northern Africa, and the Middle East. It can be grown in temperate climates around the world. This perennial shrub grows up to 3 feet tall and 2 feet wide. This plant has 2 inch wide by 6 inch long oval leaves and produces half-inch yellow-green, star-shaped flowers. Pollinated flowers become berries enclosed inside a papery calyx similar to a tomatillo.
The leaves and berries are edible, but the fleshy root is used to produce ashwagandha powder. Ashwagandha is revered in Ayurvedic traditions as a rejuvenating tonic. It is a member of the Solanaceae or nightshade family. This family of plants also includes eggplant, pepper, tomato, and potato. This plant is sometimes referred to as Indian ginseng or winter cherry.
Botanical name: Withania somnifera
USDA Hardiness Zones: 9-11, annual in zones 4-8
Sun exposure: Full sun
Ashwagandha is drought tolerant and can thrive in average to poor quality soils. If you grow this herb as an annual, sow the seeds indoors in April. Push the seeds about three-eighths of an inch below the soil surface and add water. Ashwagandha seeds are slow to germinate. They typically take two or three weeks to sprout at about 70 degrees F.
Keep the soil moist but not wet. You may need to transplant the ashwagandha seedlings to a larger container before they are ready to move outdoors. Harden them off for up to a week before transplanting time to lessen the likelihood of transplant shock. The plant will be healthier and happier as a result.
Transplant the seedlings outdoors once the danger of frost has passed. Place plants in containers or in the ground 2 feet apart. Add compost to the soil before planting. Water the plants during dry periods.
The roots will be ready to harvest in October. Use a spade or garden fork to dig up the entire plant. The roots are traditionally dried, powdered, and added to recipes.
When used as directed, Airmid’s Harvest salad dressing blends do not contain enough ashwagandha or any other herb to produce any medicinal benefits. My products and this herb profile are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or medical condition.
Please consult with a qualified healthcare practitioner before using herbal products, particularly if you are pregnant, nursing, or on any medications.