Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) plants — also known as Indian ginseng or winter cherry — are part of the nightshade family, which also includes tomatoes, datura and tobacco. In Ayurveda, it is typically used as an adaptogen, helping the body handle stress, and as a general health tonic. Like neem, it contains high levels of antioxidants and immune-boosting compounds.
The ashwagandha plant itself is a fast-growing perennial with attractive leaves and berries. Some reports indicate that large amounts of ashwagandha plant leaves are toxic but Indian visitors in our greenhouse often disagree. In either case, ashwagandha root is most often used as a medicinal herb. It is a tropical plant but does come back from the ground unless temperatures drop below about 30 degrees.
Fertilize with a high-phosphate formulation (high middle number) to boost both the roots and the berries you can use to grow new plants.
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