How to grow licorice root

Liquorice is a hearty, versatile plant and its root has many uses. In addition to making a delicious candy, liquorice root is useful in treating aches and pains, from sore throats and upset stomachs to arthritis and ulcers. Starting from a plant cutting or a seed cell transplant, liquorice plants grow to an average above-ground height of 3 feet with extensive root systems that reach several feet underground. A plant not for the impatient, liquorice takes several years to reach maturity. But the results are rewarding for those who can wait.

Choose a spot for your liquorice plant. The ideal place to plant liquorice receives lots of sun. Liquorice plants also fare best in sandy soil close to a body of water such as a creek or pond.

Prepare the growing site before planting. Make sure the soil where the liquorice root will be planted is free of weeds and has a pH level at or above 6.0. If the soil is too acidic, add sulphur; if the soil is too basic, add lime. Add fertiliser to make sure the soil has enough nutrients.

Dig a hole at least 4 inches deep for the liquorice plant. Then, plant the liquorice root cutting or seed cell transplant by placing it horizontally in the hole. If planting more than one liquorice root, make sure to allow 2 feet between each plant in every direction.

Control weeds around the liquorice plant during the its maturation period (about two to four years). Get rid of weeds by hand or herbicide. Mow and mulch dead top growth during the winters.

Add fertiliser to the soil around the plant every fall to maintain soil nutrients.

Harvest the liquorice root after it reaches maturity---about three to four years' growth. Liquorice roots can be harvested by deep ploughing or by hand. Save the entire root structure. The above-ground plant can be discarded.

Prepare the fresh roots. Cut the roots into a manageable pieces, wash, then dry in the sun or at a low heat in the oven.

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