Maidenhair Fern is considered to be one of the best indicator plants. But I have seen acres of MHF with not a single ginseng plant anywhere. Rattlesnake Fern is usually a sure sign, except that it can grow in places that are too dry for ginseng.
One of my best locations has ordinary wood ferns dominating the center. Huge 4-prong ginseng plants seem very happy there.
Butternut trees are one of the best indicator plants. Ginseng loves butternut.
And preferably a combination of 2-3 of those on the hillside.
Like others I have seen hollows just full of MHF, and the others by themselves.. but no seng.
But when you have a combination of those showing up, like MHF and Bainberry, it seems that Ginseng is more frequently found. Hog Peanut will grow in a much wider range than seng, but when it starts showing up thick and healthy looking, that is when seng is likely to be nearby.
Down here in the south, (southern middle TN), it has to be a north to north east facing hillside too... it is just to hot down here for it to grow on other slopes.
When it comes to trees... Maple, Poplar, Black Walnut, Ash.
Wildgrown will sell you some good seed.
I would highly recommend that you plant it scattered here and there instead in large beds. I have done both, and where I have large beds the deer browse it really bad, and it also suffered something awful in the early years from disease until it thinned out some.
The areas where I planted a couple seeds here, and a couple of seeds there, spacing them out generously, it is doing really good, no disease, and the deer don't seem to be able to just find it and mow it down like they do in the large beds.
Thanks TnHunter! Very helpful. I like the idea too of spreading the plants out a lot more, cut down on pests and disease. Hopefully end of this week I will get my small piece of land purchased and will begin planting this fall.
Thats a real good tip from Tennessee. I usually dont plant many more thatn between 15-20 seeds together in one spot. I also put a few companion plants with them as well. Try putting a few goldenseal plants around or I have even transferred cohosh plants around my sang beds. Anything that can simulate a growing environment will help.
I have a lot of questions as a newbie When buying seed, does it matter if the seed came from wild simulated ginseng or woods cultivated ginseng? I plan to plant it by the wild simulated method, but I think the place I'm buying from does woods cultivated as their growing method.