Indian ginseng (Withania somnifera)

The Withania somnifera is a medicinal plant

Image - Wikimedia / Krzysztof Ziarnek, Kenraiz

There are many plants that are used medicinally. One of them is the Withania somnifera, a shrub native to the Asian continent, highly appreciated especially in India, from where its ancient Sanskrit name was popularized ashawagandha, which means "horse aroma" because it gives off a smell that is very reminiscent of that of these animals.

In addition, it is a plant that can be kept in a clay pot for example, placed on a piece of furniture that you have in the garden or on the patio.

Where does it originate from? Withania somnifera?

La Withania somnifera is an evergreen shrub native to India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. We can also find it in southern Europe, specifically on the Mediterranean coast.

To be more exact, it lives in regions where it rains little, and where temperatures are very high in summer and where in winter there are no frosts or, if there are, they are very weak.

What are their characteristics?

Bufera is a perennial shrub

Image - Wikimedia / Vinayaraj

It is a shrubby plant that grows erect until it reaches a height of one and a half meters.. The leaves are simple and entire, green, and measure about 5 centimeters long by 3 centimeters wide. These sprout from thin branches, whose thickness measures about half a centimeter.

The flower is small and green, so it can go unnoticed; Instead, the fruit is a one-centimeter orange berry that is wrapped in the calyx.

His scientific name is Withania somnifera. The term 'sleeping' refers to its sedative properties. But in popular language it is called bufera or Indian ginseng.

What uses does it have?

We can say that this plant has two uses:

  • One is the ornamental: it is one that we can grow without any problem in pots or planters, as well as in the ground.
  • And the other is the medicinal: and is also the best known. It is known that the root extract can be used to reduce anxiety and stress. In addition, it is used as an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory.

How is Indian ginseng cared for?

The Withania somnifera is a shrubby plant

Image - Wikimedia / Salicyna

It is a plant that does not require much maintenance. But it will be necessary to provide some care, which are basic:

You can't miss light

This is very important. So that it grows as we expect it to, we must put it in a place where there is natural light. Now, that it must be in an area where there is a lot of clarity, does not mean that it has to be in direct sunlight all day; in fact, it is preferable that it be in semi-shade rather than in a sunny place.

The soil must have good drainage

It is a bush that adapts well to living in different conditions, but it is demanding with one thing: earth drainage. In the event that their roots were flooded and remained that way for many days, they would soon die.. But we can avoid this by planting it in well-drained soil, or in a pot that has holes which we will fill with universal substrate (for sale here!).

Watering will be done sparingly.

This means that we will have to avoid both leaving the land dry for many days, and watering it every day. If you have to choose, it is preferable not to water, rather than water too much, since the Withania somnifera it recovers much better from drought than from waterlogging. But before that, it is better to do something as simple as inserting a wooden stick to the bottom.

What good will it do us to do this? Well to check soil moisture. This is a homemade and very simple method (as well as reliable) with which you will be able to know if the soil is wet -in which case the stick will come out wet and with soil attached-, or dry -which will then come out clean-.

Start fertilizing it when spring settles

Spring begins on March 21 in the northern hemisphere, but in many places there can still be frost around that time. Therefore, we must wait for these to pass, and temperatures begin to rise. And it is that if it were paid for that day, for example, and on April 1 the mercury in the thermometer drops below 0 degrees, the plant would suffer damage to the newest leaves and stems, which are the ones it has developed since it began to be paid. .

Then, if you live in an area where you know there are usually late frosts, don't be in a rush to fertilize. It is preferable to wait a bit, rather than risk losing it. Of course, once they pass, you can continue paying it until the weather starts to cool down.

Use fertilizers of organic origin

It is no longer just because it is a medicinal plant, but because organic fertilizers are respectful of the environment. So that, we will use, for example, manure, earthworm humus or compost if we usually do

Protect her from the cold

It is a plant that does not support temperatures below 0 degrees. It can withstand some weak and occasional frosts of up to -1ºC, but it is preferable that it be protected at home until spring returns.

Have you heard of the Withania somnifera?


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