Limestone or lime, when applied to soil, raises the pH.

How to Plant Yellow Root

by Reannan Raine

Yellow root or goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis) brightens shady gardens with pale yellow to white spring flowers and berries that ripen to red over the summer. It is a 9- to 12-inch tall perennial herb that is hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 3 to 8. Yellow root plants and seedlings can be planted in the spring or fall.

Select a planting site with fast-draining soil three months prior to planting the yellow root seedlings or plants. Find a site with bright shade, dappled shade or partial shade with no more than two to three hours of direct sunlight. Check the soil pH to determine if it is between 5.5 and 6.0, the preferred pH for yellow root. Mix lime into the soil to raise the pH or iron sulfate to lower the pH, if necessary.

Spread a 2- to 3-inch depth of leaf mold over the planting site. Add a 1- to 2-inch layer of compost, aged manure or sphagnum peat moss. Mix the soil amendments thoroughly into the soil with a dirt shovel or tiller.

Dig the planting holes 2 to 3 inches deep, or to the same depth the plant was growing in its container, and 4 to 6 inches wide with a hand trowel. Space multiple yellow root plants 6 inches apart. Push the soil over the roots and water the plant to settle the soil.

Spread a 2- to 3-inch depth of organic mulch over the soil around the plant. Maintain lightly moist soil for the first few months until the plant becomes well-established.

Items you will need

  • Soil pH test
  • Dirt shovel or tiller
  • Lime (optional)
  • Iron sulfate (optional)
  • Leaf mold
  • Sphagnum peat moss, compost or aged manure
  • Tape measure
  • Organic mulch


  • Soil pH test kits can be purchased at garden centers or the test can be done by a local extension office in some states or a soil laboratory.
  • Sow seeds directly in the garden in fall or early spring, as soon as soil can be worked. Cover them lightly and keep them moist until they germinate. Sections of rhizomes can be planted at the same times, 2 to 3 inches deep.


  • Yellow root is considered endangered or threatened in many states. Purchase seeds, seedlings or rhizomes from a nursery or commercial grower.
  • All parts of yellow root are toxic if ingested.

About the Author

Reannan Raine worked for 30 years in the non-profit sector in various positions. She recently became a licensed insurance agent but has decided to pursue a writing career instead. Ms. Raine is hoping to have her first novel published soon.

Photo Credits

  • limestone band in sandstone image by PinkSkyPhotos from