How to Grow Asarum – Wild Ginger

Asarum is usually grown for its shiny green foliage; this is Asarum europaeum

Asarum is a low-creeping plant grown more for its glossy roundish or heart-shaped leaves than for its flowers. It is a good ground cover for shaded or woodland gardens.

Asarum–commonly called wild ginger–is not used for seasoning like true ginger. Asarum gets its common name from the scent of its crushed leaves and roots–which smell like ginger.

Asarum flowers are jug or bottle-shaped with leathery lobes and can be brownish-green, brownish-purple, or red-brown in color, but they are usually barely visible under the leaves and next to the soil.

The Asarum genus is comprised of about 70 species, only a few are available to gardeners.

Flower of Asarum europaeum, commonly called wild ginger
Flower of Asarum europaeum, commonly called wild ginger

Get to know Asarum

  • Plant type: Perennials with tuberous roots
  • Growing zones and range: Zones 4 to 8 depending on the variety
  • Hardiness: Hardy to Zone 4
  • Height and width: 2 to 4 inches (6-10cm) tall and 6 to 12 inches (15-30cm) wide
  • Foliage: Low creeping plant with roundish or heart-shaped leaves.
  • Flowers: Bell-shaped, brownish-purple flowers and ginger-scented roots.
  • Uses: Asarum is a great ground cover for shady gardens and woodland gardens.
  • Garden companions: Other shade-loving plants, such as ferns and hostas.
  • Common name: Wild ginger
  • Botanical name: Asarum
  • Family name: Aristolochiaceae
  • Origin: Woodlands of Europe, East Asia, North America

Where to plant Asarum

  • Asarum do well in light to full shade.
  • Asarum do well in humus-rich, well-drained, slightly acidic soil.
Asarum is commonly used as a low-growing groundcover in shade

When to plant Asarum

  • Sow fresh Asarum seed in summer.
  • Set container-grown plants in the garden in spring or autumn.

Planting and spacing Asarum

  • Space plants 6 to 12 inches (15-30cm) apart.
  • Sow seed 1/8 inch deep.
  • Set rhizomes 1 inch (2.5cm) deep.

How to water and feed Asarum

  • Keep the soil evenly moist for best growth.
  • Feed Asarum with an all-purpose organic fertilizer in spring.

Asarum care

  • Asarum clumps thrive for years without requiring division.

Asarum pests and diseases

  • Asarum can develop rust and leaf gall.
  • Asarum can develop snails and slugs.
Asarum europaeum or wild ginger flower
Asarum europaeum or wild ginger flower

Asarum propagation

  • Divide Asarum in early spring. Take rhizome cuttings in spring.
  • Sow seed as soon as they are ripe; grow on in a cold frame.
  • Plant self-sow.

Asarum varieties to grow

  • Asarum canadense, Canadian wild ginger, has light green, kidney-shaped, deciduous leaves over bell-shaped, purple-to-brown flowers. To 6 inches (15.24 cm) tall. Zones 2 to 8.
  • A. europaeum, European wild ginger, is a slower-spreading evergreen species, with shiny leaves over bell-shaped, purple-to-brown flowers. 3 inches (7.62 cm) tall. Zones 4 to 8.   
  • A. shuttleworthii, mottled wild ginger, grows to 9 inches tall and spreads to 12 inches; bears dark-green leaves that are mottled with silver; produces purple-brown flowers in early summer. 

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