What Is Goldenseal: How To Grow Your Goldenseal Plants

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By Mary H. Dyer, Master Naturalist and Master Gardener

What is goldenseal and what are the health benefits of goldenseal? This native plant, which grows wild across much of the shady deciduous forestlands of the eastern half of the United States, has been used for a variety of medicinal purposes. Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis) is an endangered species, largely due to overharvesting. Removing the plant from the wild is illegal in many states, but growing goldenseal plants in your garden isn’t difficult. Read on to learn more.

What are the Health Benefits of Goldenseal?

Native Americans used goldenseal to treat a variety of conditions, including fevers, ulcers and skin disorders. Today, the herb is often used to treat colds, nasal congestion and respiratory ailments, frequently in combination with Echinacea.

Goldenseal is also taken to relieve tummy complaints such as ulcers, diarrhea and constipation, as well as a variety of skin conditions and rashes. An eyewash made of goldenseal is believed to help eye infections, and a mouthwash is used for painful gums.

Little research has been done to prove any health claims and there is little evidence that goldenseal actually works; however, herbalists continue to stand by the health benefits of goldenseal.

How to Grow Goldenseal

Goldenseal is easy to propagate from pieces of rhizome, which you can dig from an established plant. You may also be able to purchase starts from a garden center or greenhouse that specializes in herbs or native plants.

You can also plant seeds or root cuttings, but the process takes longer and isn’t always dependable. Again, please avoid harvesting wild plants.

Goldenseal thrives in rich, well-drained soil. Add compost or other organic material if your soil doesn’t drain well, as goldenseal won’t tolerate wet feet. Avoid open areas. An ideal location is one that replicates the plant’s natural environment, such as a shady place under hardwood trees.

Plant rhizomes just under the surface of prepared soil, with 6 to 12 inches between each rhizome.

Goldenseal Plant Care

Water goldenseal as needed until the plant is well established, but don’t allow the soil to become soggy. Once established, goldenseal is relatively drought tolerant but benefits from weekly irrigation during warm, dry weather. Withhold water curing the winter months, unless the weather is abnormally dry.

Goldenseal plant care requires careful weed control until the plant is well established. Cover the planting area with a thick layer of mulch in autumn, then remove all but 1 or 2 inches in early spring. Although goldenseal tends to be drought tolerant, slugscan be a problem. If this is the case, limit mulch to 3 inches or less.

Harvest green goldenseal leaves in fall. Harvest the roots in autumn after the plant goes dormant.

Disclaimer: The contents of this article is for educational and gardening purposes only. Before using ANY herb or plant for medicinal purposes, please consult a physician or a medical herbalist for advice.

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