Winning at Wintergreen: Your Complete Gardener’s Guide

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If you’re a fan of the refreshing and invigorating taste of wintergreen, you’ll be thrilled to know that you can grow your own supply right in your own backyard. Not only will you have access to fresh leaves to use in tea, candy, or other delicious treats, but you’ll also be cultivating a decorative and aromatic groundcover that’s perfect for adding interest to gardens and landscaping. In this complete guide, we’ll walk you through the steps to successfully growing wintergreen, from preparing the soil to harvesting and preserving your crop.

Benefits of Growing Your Own Wintergreen

  • Ability to control the growing conditions without the use of harmful chemicals
  • Fresh and flavorful leaves for culinary use
  • Potential medicinal benefits from the leaves and berries
  • Attractiveness as a ground cover with bright red berries in the winter
  • Sustainability and reduced carbon footprint by growing your own plants
  • Connection to nature and the satisfaction of growing your own food and medicine

General Information About Wintergreen

Plant Family: Ericaceae (heath family)
Plant Latin Name: Gaultheria procumbens

Plant Variations Available

Wintergreen, also known as Gaultheria procumbens, is a perennial plant species commonly found in North America. Its leaves are known for their minty, sweet aroma, and it is often used in the production of medicines, candies, and even toothpaste!

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There are several different varieties of the Wintergreen plant, including creeping Wintergreen, eastern teaberry, and American Wintergreen. Each of these varieties has its own unique characteristics, but all share the characteristic scent and flavor that make Wintergreen such a popular herb.

In terms of traditional medicinal use, Wintergreen has been used for centuries to treat a wide range of ailments, including headaches, sore muscles, and arthritis. It contains an active compound called methyl salicylate, which has been shown to have anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving effects.

Wintergreen essential oil is also a popular ingredient in aromatherapy, where it is believed to have a calming and soothing effect on the mind and body.

Overall, whether you’re looking to flavor your favorite gum or add a soothing touch to your next massage, Wintergreen is a versatile and valuable herb with a long history of use and a bright future ahead.

Germinating Wintergreen

Preferred Zones

If you’re planning to grow Wintergreen outdoors, it’s important to choose the right location. Wintergreen is an evergreen shrub that needs plenty of sunlight and well-drained soil to thrive, making it a great option for many gardeners across the United States. Here are some of the best zones for outdoor growing of Wintergreen:

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Zone 3-8: This is the ideal zone for growing Wintergreen, as these areas generally have cooler climates with temperatures that will allow the plant to thrive. If you live in this zone, you can expect your Wintergreen to grow bushier and produce more berries than in warmer climates.

Zone 2: If you live in Zone 2, you may still be able to grow Wintergreen, but you’ll need to take extra precautions to protect it from the cold. Wintergreen can tolerate temperatures as low as -40 degrees Fahrenheit, but it may require some winter protection like mulching or wrapping in burlap.

Zone 9-10: Wintergreen can also grow in warmer climates such as Zones 9 and 10, though it may not grow as vigorously as in cooler zones. However, if you live in a warm climate and want to grow Wintergreen, consider planting in a partially shaded area to protect it from too much direct sunlight.

Regardless of your zone, it’s important to ensure that the soil is well-drained and acidic (pH of 4.5 to 5.5) to simulate the plant’s natural habitat. Consider testing your soil before planting and amending with compost or peat moss as needed. With proper care and attention, you can enjoy the aromatic, flavorful leaves and bright red berries of your Wintergreen shrub.

Sowing Instructions

Wintergreen is a delightful plant that offers both visual and olfactory delights. With its evergreen, glossy leaves and fragrant aroma, it’s no wonder that so many gardening enthusiasts love to sow it. In this article, we’ll explore the best methods and procedures for sowing wintergreen.

Firstly, let’s take a closer look at wintergreen. This plant belongs to the genus Gaultheria, and it’s native to North America. Wintergreen grows in acidic, well-draining soil and prefers partial to full shade. It’s also sensitive to drought and needs to be watered regularly. Wintergreen is an excellent choice for garden borders, rock gardens, and containers.

The best time to sow wintergreen is in late winter or early spring. The seeds need to be stratified for a couple of months before they can germinate. Stratification involves exposing the seeds to a period of cold, damp conditions. The easiest way to do this is to sow the seeds in damp soil and leave them outside for two to three months. Alternatively, you can place the seeds in a sealed container with damp vermiculite and store them in the fridge for a couple of months.

Once the seeds have been stratified, it’s time to sow them. You’ll need a tray or pot filled with a well-draining potting mix. Sow the seeds on the surface of the soil, making sure to space them out evenly. Cover the seeds with a thin layer of soil, mist them with a spray bottle, and cover the pot or tray with plastic wrap.

Place the pot or tray in a warm, bright location, but keep it out of direct sunlight. The seeds should germinate in two to three weeks. Once the seedlings have grown to around 5-10cm in height, they can be transplanted into their final location.

To transplant the wintergreen, dig a hole slightly larger than the root ball and gently remove the plant from its pot. Place the root ball in the hole, backfill with soil, and water thoroughly. Make sure to space the plants out evenly, roughly 20-30cm apart to allow them to grow to their full potential.

In conclusion, sowing wintergreen requires patience and attention to detail, but the results are well worth it. By following these methods and procedures, you’ll be rewarded with a stunning plant that adds both beauty and fragrance to your garden.

Preparation Advice

If you’re looking to try your hand at growing wintergreen, there are a few things you’ll need to know in order to get started. This aromatic shrub is native to North America and is a popular choice for both culinary and medicinal use. Here are some tips to help you get started with growing your own wintergreen.

First off, you’ll need to make sure you have the right equipment. A good pair of gardening gloves and some pruning shears are essential to keep your wintergreen plants healthy and free from pests and disease. You’ll also need a good quality soil that is well-draining and nutrient-rich. If you’re growing wintergreen in a container, make sure it has sufficient drainage holes to prevent the soil from becoming waterlogged.

When it comes to planting your wintergreen, it’s important to choose the right location. These plants prefer a partially shady area, as they can be sensitive to direct sunlight. They also prefer well-drained soil that is slightly acidic. If you’re planting them in the ground, make sure you prepare the soil by adding in some organic matter, such as compost or peat moss.

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Watering is also an important part of growing wintergreen. These plants prefer to be kept moist, but not waterlogged. A good rule of thumb is to water your wintergreen whenever the top inch of soil feels dry to the touch. Be sure to avoid getting water on the leaves, as this can lead to fungal growth.

As your wintergreen plants grow, you’ll need to prune them periodically to promote new growth and maintain their shape. Use your pruning shears to trim any dead or damaged branches, as well as any growth that looks untidy. It’s also a good idea to fertilize your wintergreen with an all-purpose fertilizer every few months to keep them healthy and strong.

By following these tips and using the right equipment, you can grow healthy and vibrant wintergreen plants in no time. With a little bit of effort and care, you’ll be enjoying the delicious flavor and health benefits of your own home-grown wintergreen in no time!

Germination Tools and Equipment

If you’re looking to germinate wintergreen, you’ll need a few key tools and pieces of equipment to get started. Wintergreen seeds can be slow to germinate, so it’s important to give them the best possible start to ensure healthy growth. Here’s what you’ll need:

1. Seed starting trays: These trays will give your wintergreen seeds a good place to start. Seed starting trays usually have individual cells that hold one seed each, providing ample space for the seed to grow and develop.

2. Soilless seed starting mix: Wintergreen seeds need a light, airy soil that’s nutrient-rich and well-draining. A soilless seed starting mix is perfect for this, as it’s designed specifically for starting seeds.

3. Watering can or spray bottle: You’ll need a way to water your seeds without drowning them. A watering can or spray bottle with a fine mist nozzle is ideal for this, as it will distribute water evenly without disturbing the seeds.

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4. Heat mat: Wintergreen seeds need a warm environment to germinate well. A heat mat will provide consistent warmth to your seed starting trays, ensuring that your seeds get the best possible start.

5. Grow lights: Wintergreen seeds also need plenty of light to germinate well. If you don’t have a sunny south-facing window, grow lights are a great way to ensure that your seeds get the light they need.

Once you have all of these tools and equipment, it’s time to get started! Fill your seed starting trays with soilless seed starting mix, plant your wintergreen seeds according to the package instructions, and water them carefully. Place your seed trays on the heat mat and under the grow lights, and keep them moist but not waterlogged. With a little care and patience, your wintergreen seeds should start to germinate in a few weeks’ time. Good luck!

Growing Wintergreen


Light Requirements

When it comes to growing Wintergreen, lighting is a key factor in ensuring a healthy and thriving plant. While this plant does prefer partial shade, it still requires a significant amount of light to successfully grow.

During the growing season, which typically lasts from spring to fall, Wintergreen needs about 6 to 8 hours of direct or filtered sunlight per day. If you’re growing your plants indoors or in a greenhouse, ensure that they are placed near a window or under grow lights that provide the right spectrum of light.

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In terms of optimal lighting conditions for Wintergreen, aim for a balance between direct and filtered light. Too much direct sunlight can cause the leaves to scorch, while too little light can hinder plant growth and impede leaf production. So, it’s best to provide moderate light conditions and to monitor the plant regularly to make sure it’s getting the right amount of light.

Another factor to consider when it comes to Wintergreen’s lighting needs is the season. During the winter months, when there is less natural light available, you may need to supplement with artificial lighting to ensure that the plant receives enough light to stay healthy.

In summary, Wintergreen requires about 6 to 8 hours of direct or filtered sunlight per day, as well as a balance between direct and filtered light. During the winter months, supplemental lighting may be necessary to keep your plant thriving. With proper lighting and care, your Wintergreen plant can be a beautiful and healthy addition to your garden or indoor space.

Temperature Requirements

Wintergreen, also known as Gaultheria procumbens, is a hardy perennial plant native to North America. This plant is a popular choice for gardeners due to its attractive foliage and fragrant berries. Wintergreen is known for its medicinal properties and is often used to treat symptoms of arthritis, headaches, and muscle pain.

When it comes to temperature requirements, wintergreen is a hardy plant that can tolerate a range of conditions. However, it prefers cooler temperatures and thrives in well-draining, acidic soil. Ideally, the temperature should be kept between 50-70°F (10-21°C) for optimal growth. Wintergreen can withstand frost and snow, making it suitable for colder climates.

To ensure healthy growth, it is important to keep the soil moist but not waterlogged. It is also recommended to mulch the soil with a layer of organic material to help retain moisture and keep the soil cool. Wintergreen plants benefit from regular pruning to maintain a bushy shape and promote new growth.

In conclusion, wintergreen is a hardy and versatile plant that can tolerate a range of temperatures. However, it prefers cooler conditions and acidic soil. By providing the ideal growing conditions, gardeners can enjoy a healthy and attractive wintergreen plant, with the added benefits of medicinal properties.

My Favorite Tools For Growing Wintergreen

Wintergreen is a hardy and versatile plant that can thrive in a variety of conditions, from dry and rocky soil to moist and shaded areas. If you’re looking to cultivate a healthy wintergreen patch, you’ll need a few essential tools and equipment to get started.

First and foremost, you’ll need a good pair of gardening gloves. Wintergreen leaves contain a natural oil that can cause skin irritation, so it’s important to protect your hands while handling the plant.

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Next, you’ll need a sturdy hand trowel for planting and maintaining your wintergreen patch. Look for a trowel with a sharp, pointed blade that can easily cut through soil and roots.

A watering can or hose is also essential for keeping your wintergreen plants hydrated. Depending on your climate and soil conditions, you may need to water your wintergreen patch regularly to keep it healthy and thriving.

If you’re planning to harvest your wintergreen leaves for culinary or medicinal purposes, you’ll also need a pair of sharp scissors or pruning shears. Make sure to sterilize your cutting tools between uses to prevent the spread of disease.

Finally, a good quality fertilizer can help promote healthy growth and vibrant foliage in your wintergreen patch. Look for a fertilizer specifically designed for acid-loving plants like wintergreen, and apply it according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

With these essential tools and equipment in hand, you’ll be well on your way to cultivating a beautiful and healthy wintergreen patch!

Preferred Soil Type

Wintergreen is a lovely evergreen shrub that is known for its fragrant white flowers and shiny, deep green leaves. To grow healthy wintergreen, it is important to pay attention to its soil requirements.

Wintergreen prefers a well-draining soil that is rich in organic matter. The soil should have a pH range between 4.5 and 5.5, which is quite acidic. You can lower the pH of your soil using sulfur or aluminum sulfate if necessary, but it is important to test the soil before doing so.

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It is also important to ensure that the soil does not become too dry or too wet, as wintergreen prefers moderate moisture levels. Adding organic matter such as compost or aged manure to the soil can help it retain moisture and improve its overall quality.

Lastly, wintergreen prefer soils that are high in nutrients, especially nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. You can fertilize your soil with an all-purpose fertilizer or use a slow-release fertilizer to ensure your wintergreen has a steady supply of nutrients.

In summary, wintergreen requires well-draining, acidic soil that is rich in organic matter and high in nutrients. By paying attention to these soil requirements, you can grow healthy and vibrant wintergreen that will delight your senses all year round!

Watering Requirements

If you want to grow healthy Wintergreen plants, you need to be vigilant about their watering requirements. Wintergreen is a moisture-loving plant, and it can be quite fussy about how much hydration it gets. Here’s what you need to know:

First and foremost, Wintergreen plants need consistent moisture. You should water them regularly – ideally, once a week or more – to ensure the soil stays damp but not waterlogged. Keep in mind that Wintergreen grows best in acidic soil, so make sure to use a watering method that won’t affect the pH balance of the soil.

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During hot summer months, your Wintergreen plants may require more frequent watering. If you notice the leaves starting to wilt or dry out, this may be a sign that they need more water. Make sure to water them in the early morning or late afternoon, when the sun isn’t too intense.

On the other hand, overwatering can be just as damaging as underwatering. If the soil is constantly wet or waterlogged, the roots can rot and the plant can die. Be sure to give the soil time to dry out at least a little between waterings.

One trick to keeping Wintergreen healthy is to mulch around the base of the plant. This will help retain moisture in the soil and reduce the frequency of watering required. But be careful not to pile the mulch too high, as this can also lead to waterlogged soil.

Finally, pay attention to the weather and adapt your watering habits accordingly. If you experience a drought or a period of heavy rainfall, you may need to adjust the frequency and amount of water you give your Wintergreen plants.

With these tips in mind, you can ensure that your Wintergreen plants stay healthy and vibrant. Satisfy their moisture requirements, and watch them thrive!

What You Need To Know About Fertilizing Wintergreen

Wintergreen is a beautiful evergreen shrub that requires proper fertilizing to grow healthy and strong. As a low-growing plant with shiny, dark green leaves and bright red berries, it can add a pop of color and vibrancy to any garden or landscape. If you want your Wintergreen plants to thrive, then you need to provide them with the right kind of nutrients and care.

Firstly, you should know that Wintergreen plants are acid-loving, and you need to choose a fertilizer that meets this requirement. Therefore, using a fertilizer that has a high level of nitrogen and low levels of phosphorus and potassium is a good place to start. An ideal fertilizer for Wintergreen would have an N-P-K ratio of 2-1-1 or 3-1-2.

It is important to fertilize your Wintergreen plants twice a year – once in early spring and again in the fall. During these times, the plants are growing actively and need the extra nutrients to support their development. Apply the fertilizer around the base of the plant, and make sure to avoid getting any on the leaves.

Additionally, you should add organic matter to your soil, such as compost or peat moss, to help it hold onto moisture and nutrients. This will make it easier for the plants to absorb the necessary nutrients from the fertilizer. Wintergreen plants also prefer well-draining soil, so make sure that there is no standing water around their roots.

Finally, it is important to keep your Wintergreen plants well-maintained, including removing any dead or diseased branches or leaves promptly. This will help ensure their healthy growth and development throughout the growing season and beyond.

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In summary, fertilizing your Wintergreen plants with an acid-loving fertilizer twice per year, adding organic matter to the soil, and maintaining them properly will ensure they grow healthy and vibrant.

My Favorite Fertilizers For Wintergreen

If you’re looking to keep your wintergreen plants healthy and thriving, finding the right fertilizer is key. Here are some of the best fertilizers to consider:

1. Organic fertilizer: Wintergreen plants tend to do well with organic fertilizers made from natural ingredients like manure or compost. These fertilizers slowly release nutrients into the soil, helping your plants grow strong and healthy.

2. Slow-release fertilizer: A slow-release fertilizer can be a great option for wintergreen plants, as it delivers nutrients to the soil over a longer period of time. This can help ensure that your plants get the nutrients they need without overwhelming them.

3. Nitrogen-rich fertilizer: Wintergreen plants tend to do well with fertilizers that are high in nitrogen. Nitrogen is essential to plant growth and can help keep your wintergreen looking vibrant and healthy.

4. Balanced fertilizer: A balanced fertilizer that contains equal amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium can be a good choice for wintergreen plants. This can help ensure that your plants get all the nutrients they need to thrive.

Remember, when using fertilizer, be sure to follow the instructions carefully and don’t over-fertilize your plants. Too much fertilizer can harm your wintergreen and cause damage to the surrounding ecosystem. With the right fertilizer and careful attention, you can help your wintergreen plants grow strong and healthy.

Harvesting Wintergreen

Time To Maturity

Wintergreen, also known as Gaultheria procumbens, is a perennial evergreen shrub that is native to North America. This plant typically takes about three to four years to reach maturity from the time it sprouts.

Wintergreen starts as a small seedling that develops roots and leaves within a few weeks of planting. During its first year, it remains small and produces only a few leaves, usually less than six inches tall. In the second year, the plant continues to grow slowly, and it may start to produce flowers during the late summer or early fall.

By the third year, wintergreen finally starts to show significant growth, and it can reach a height of about six to eight inches. During this time, the plant may produce a significant number of flowers, which eventually develop into fruit. The fourth year is when the plant will typically reach full maturity, with a height of up to one foot and a width of up to two feet.

Once wintergreen is mature, it can continue to grow and spread slowly, forming a dense ground cover with its glossy green leaves and bright red berries. With proper care, including regular watering and pruning, mature wintergreen plants can live for many years and provide a beautiful addition to any garden or landscape.

Harvest Instructions

Wintergreen, also known as Eastern teaberry or checkerberry, is a small evergreen shrub that is native to North America. It is a popular plant for its fragrant leaves that emit a distinct minty aroma and its small, bright red berries that are used in various food and medicinal applications. Here’s a simple procedure on how to harvest wintergreen:

1. Timing: Wintergreen berries typically ripen in late summer or early fall, but it is best to wait until after the first frost to harvest them. This will increase the sweetness of the berries and help them stay fresh for longer.

2. Preparation: You’ll need a pair of gardening gloves, a clean harvest basket or container, and a pair of sharp scissors or pruning shears. Make sure to sanitize your tools before using them to avoid any contamination.

3. Selection: Look for plump and juicy berries that are deep red or pink in color. Avoid berries that are under-ripe, blemished, or insect-damaged.

4. Harvesting: Carefully pinch the stalk near the base of the berry and snip it off with your scissors or pruning shears. Be careful not to damage the fragile stems or leaves of the plant. Collect the berries in your basket or container.

5. Post-harvest: Once you’ve finished harvesting, remove any debris or stems from the berries and rinse them gently with cool water to remove any dirt or insects. Spread them out on a paper towel to dry and then store them in a cool, dark place until you’re ready to use them.

Wintergreen berries can be used fresh or dried in various culinary applications such as jams, jellies, sauces, and teas. They are also a popular ingredient in many medicinal remedies for their analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and antispasmodic properties. Harvesting wintergreen is a fun and rewarding activity that anyone can try, so why not give it a go?

My Favorite Tools For Harvest Time

When it comes to harvesting wintergreen, having the right tools and equipment is crucial for a successful and efficient process. Here are some of the best items to have on hand:

1. Pruning shears: These will come in handy for snipping off the stems of the wintergreen plants. Look for a pair with sharp, sturdy blades.

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2. Garden gloves: Wintergreen plants can be prickly and rough, so wearing gloves is a must. Look for gloves with good grip and durability.

3. Harvesting bag or basket: Once you’ve snipped off the stems of the wintergreen plants, you’ll need somewhere to place them. A sturdy bag or basket with a comfortable handle is ideal.

4. Knife: For tougher stems or harder-to-reach places, a sharp knife can be a useful tool.

5. Trowel: If you’re harvesting wintergreen from the ground, a trowel can be helpful for digging around the roots and loosening the soil.

6. Hat and sunscreen: Since wintergreen is often found in sunny, open areas, it’s important to protect yourself from the sun with a hat and sunscreen.

Before you head out to harvest wintergreen, make sure you have all of these items and that they’re in good working order. With the right tools and equipment, you’ll be able to harvest wintergreen safely, efficiently, and with ease.

End of Season & Overwintering


Wintergreen is a low-growing plant that is native to North America. It’s also commonly known as checkerberry, teaberry, and American wintergreen. As winter approaches, it’s important to ensure proper end of season care to prevent damage to your wintergreen plant.

The first step in overwintering your wintergreen plant is to make sure it’s healthy going into the winter season. Water it regularly and fertilize it as needed throughout the growing season. As the temperatures start to drop, gradually reduce the amount of water you give it.

Once the temperature drops below freezing, it’s time to prepare your wintergreen for the winter. Start by mulching around the base of the plant with a layer of organic matter, such as leaves or straw. This will help protect the roots and retain moisture.

You can also cover the plants with burlap or a fabric cover to protect them from frost and snow. Be sure to remove the covers during the warm days of the winter to allow for proper air circulation.

Finally, prune any dead or damaged branches to prevent the growth of fungi or bacteria, which could harm your wintergreen plant. With proper care and protection, your wintergreen should emerge healthy and vibrant in the spring.

Final Thoughts on Wintergreen


In conclusion, growing wintergreen is a rewarding endeavor that can bring a taste of the outdoors right into your kitchen. With a few simple steps, you can successfully germinate, grow, and harvest this aromatic herb all year long. Remember to provide the ideal growing conditions, including well-drained soil, partial shade, and regular watering. Whether you choose to start from seeds or cuttings, patience is key when growing wintergreen, as it may take several weeks or even months to see the first signs of growth. But with dedication and care, you’ll soon be enjoying your very own supply of wintergreen leaves for years to come. Happy gardening!

Frequently Asked Questions About Growing Wintergreen


Q: What kind of soil does Wintergreen require for optimal growth?
A: Wintergreen thrives in well-drained, acidic soil with a pH of 4.5-5.5. It is also important to incorporate organic matter such as peat moss into the soil to promote optimal growth.

Q: What is the best way to propagate Wintergreen?
A: Wintergreen can be propagated through either seeds or cuttings. To propagate through cuttings, take 4-6 inch stem cuttings and plant them in a moist rooting medium. Keep the cuttings in a warm, shaded area and water regularly until they have developed roots.

Q: How often should Wintergreen be fertilized and what type of fertilizer should be used?
A: Wintergreen should be fertilized once in the spring before new growth begins and once in the fall before it goes dormant. Use an acid-based fertilizer specifically formulated for acid-loving plants. Follow the instructions on the fertilizer package for proper application techniques.

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