How to Grow Devil’s Claw in Your Backyard

How to Grow Devil’s Claw in Your Backyard

How to Grow Devil’s Claw in Your Backyard

I’ve decided to start growing devil’s claw in my backyard for its medicinal benefits. Here is a comprehensive guide on how I plan to cultivate this unique plant.

Choosing the Right Location

Devil’s claw thrives in hot, arid climates. When choosing the planting site, I need to select an area that receives full sun and has sandy, well-drained soil. Here are some key location factors to consider:

  • Sunlight: Devil’s claw requires at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight per day. I’ll choose a sunny spot that avoids shade from trees, shrubs and buildings.

  • Soil: The soil should be sandy and alkaline, with a pH between 7.0-8.5. Devil’s claw won’t tolerate heavy, compacted soils. I may need to amend my soil with sand or gravel to improve drainage.

  • Temperature: Devil’s claw needs daytime temperatures above 70°F to grow well. My backyard environment should provide plenty of heat and sunlight during the summer growing season.

  • Drainage: Excellent drainage is crucial. Stagnant water will rot the taproots. I’ll select an elevated area or slope to ensure water drains away from the plants.

  • Wind Protection: Strong winds can damage devil’s claw. I may need to erect a windbreak using fencing or fast-growing shrubs.

Preparing the Soil

Prior to planting, I’ll work aged compost or manure into the top 12 inches of soil to enrich it with nutrients. Here are some other soil preparation tips:

  • Loosen the soil and remove any rocks, roots and weeds. Devil’s claw taproots need room to expand.

  • Consider adding sand or gravel to improve drainage in heavy, compacted soils.

  • The ideal pH range is 7.0-8.5. I can apply lime if a soil test shows the pH is too low.

  • Work in a complete organic fertilizer before planting. Compost and manure also supply nutrients.

  • Creating raised garden beds can further improve drainage and make tending the plants easier.

Selecting Plants and Seeds

I have two options for obtaining devil’s claw plants – seeds or live plant starts.

  • Seeds: Less expensive option but can be challenging to germinate. Soak in warm water for 24 hours before planting.

  • Plant starts: More expensive but higher germination success. Can be purchased from specialty nurseries.

I’ll plant both seeds and starts to hedge my bets. I’ll start seeds indoors 8-12 weeks before last frost. This gives time for germination and growth of seedlings before transplanting outdoors.

Planting and Spacing

Devil’s claw should be planted outdoors after the last frost when soil temperatures have warmed above 65°F. Here are some tips:

  • Plant seeds 1 inch deep in rows spaced 3 feet apart. Thin seedlings to 18-24 inches apart.

  • Dig holes for plant starts and transplant them at the same depth as their containers. Space 18-24 inches apart.

  • Water thoroughly after transplanting and provide shade for a few days until established.

  • Consider adding mulch around plants to retain moisture and reduce weeds. Avoid touching stems.

Caring and Maintenance

Caring for devil’s claw plants mainly involves providing sufficient water and nutrition. Here are some growing tips:

  • Water deeply at the base every 7-10 days if rainfall is insufficient. Drought tolerant but dry spells will reduce growth.

  • Fertilize monthly with a high nitrogen fertilizer or compost tea during the growing season.

  • Devil’s claw spreads aggressively. Contain it by planting in pots or constructed beds.

  • Weed control is important, especially when plants are young. Mulch and hand pull weeds.

  • Prune off damaged leaves or roots as needed to keep plants healthy.

Harvesting Devil’s Claw

  • The medicinal roots can be harvested after 1-2 years of growth.

  • Use a shovel or garden fork to dig around and under each plant to harvest the taproot intact.

  • Clean off soil and cut taproot into smaller pieces to aid drying.

  • Dry the roots in a warm, well-ventilated area out of direct sunlight.

  • Place dried roots in airtight containers and store in a cool, dark place. Roots remain effective for 1-2 years.

Conclusion

With proper care, I’m looking forward to growing bountiful devil’s claw in my own backyard. The steps outlined in this guide should help me establish and maintain a successful crop of this heat-loving medicinal plant. Let me know if you have any other devil’s claw cultivation tips!