days to maturity: 130 days
plant spacing: 1 plant per 2 square feet
sunlight requirements: 8-14 hours
look out for: keeping it happy all season long
harvest notes: harvest roots when plant dies in the spring after seeding
Ashwagandha is a member of the nightshade family, which also includes tomatoes—but, unlike the tomato, the quarter- inch, orange-red fruits of this herb are not the focus of its beneficial properties. The mature plant’s thick, gray taproot, which reaches 1 to 2 feet into the soil, contains compounds that act as a sedative, reduce anxiety, and induce relaxation. Over the centuries, ashwagandha has been used for arthritis and colds, to improve sleep, as an aphrodisiac, and to treat many other conditions. One of the English common names for this species, Indian ginseng, refers to its power as an adaptogen, a name given to herbs that increase our immune function and help the body cope with stress. Botanically, ginseng and ashwagandha are in different plant families, but they are similar in having medicinally active taproots with the ability, when ingested, to fight stress. This plant is easy to grow in South Florida because of its plant family (solinacea plants love the heat and humidity we have to offer year round) just keep in mind that once planted it has to stick around in your garden until it dies in late spring, so make sure you make the room in your garden for this plant to be able to mature and spread, about 2 square feet in total.