Mandrake is a fascinating plant with a rich history that dates back to Biblical times. The long, human-like root is often implemented as a medicinal herb. It is highly valued in certain religious ceremonies and in modern-day witchcraft. If you live in a warm climate (USDA zones 6 to 8), you can plant mandrake outdoors. In cooler climates, mandrake should be grown indoors.
Mandrake plants generally take about two years to mature, bloom, and produce berries. Mandrake root can be harvested after three to four years. Sowing mandrake seeds isn’t difficult, but don’t expect 100 percent success, as germination can be hit and miss. Read on for information on mandrake seed propagation.
How to Grow Mandrake from Seed
Purchase mandrake seeds from an herbal supply store or reputable online nursery. Otherwise, harvest seeds from ripe fruit in autumn. Fresh seeds should be planted within six months.
Mandrake seeds must be stratified, using a process that mimics natural winter. Fill a baggie or plastic container with moist sand, then bury the seeds inside. Store the seeds in the refrigerator for a month.
After stratification is complete, plant the seeds in individual containers filled with loose, good-quality potting mix or compost.
Place the containers in a warm room. As soon as the seeds germinate, place the containers under a couple of fluorescent bulbs or grow lights. Don’t depend on direct sunlight from a window, which may be too cool at night and too hot during the day.
Plant mandrake outdoors when the roots are large enough to survive on their own. Full sunlight is ideal, but the plant will tolerate light shade. Mandrake needs loose, deep soil to accommodate the roots. The soil must be well-drained to avoid rot, especially during the winter.
Planting Mandrake Seeds Outdoors
If you live in a mild climate, you can also try sowing mandrake seeds in a permanent outdoor location while the weather is cool. Germination is triggered by natural temperature fluctuations. This often works well because there is no need to disturb the roots by transplanting.
Warning about Mandrake Seed Propagation
A member of the nightshade family, mandrake is highly toxic and ingestion may cause vomiting and delirium. Large amounts can be fatal. Always seek advice from a medical professional before using herbal mandrake.