How To Grow Sassafras

Written by: Lars Nyman

Growing Sassafras

Growing Sassafras

Growing the plant Sassafras is a rewarding experience because of its unique and delicious taste as well as its many potential uses. It has a slightly spicy flavor, often compared to root beer, that makes it popular as a drink, addition to sauces, or as a flavoring for food. With its interesting aroma, useful medicinal properties, and its ability to perfume the air around it, Sassafras is a great addition to the garden and can bring the sweet smell of summer indoors.

Cheatsheet: Growing Sassafras

1. Soil Requirements:

Sassafras thrives in well-drained soil with a pH level between 6.0-7.5.

2. Sunlight:

Plant in an area that receives full or partial sunlight for optimal growth.

3. Planting:

Sow seeds in early spring or late fall, keeping a distance of 15-20 feet between each tree.

4. Watering:

Ensure consistent watering, providing 1 inch of water per week during dry periods.

5. Growth Rate:

Sassafras is a fast-growing tree, reaching a height of 40-60 feet within 20-30 years.

6. Harvesting:

Harvest the roots in winter after the leaves have fallen, while the sap is concentrated.

7. Culinary Uses:

Sassafras leaves can be dried and used to flavor soups, stews, and beverages.

8. Medicinal Qualities:

Sassafras has been used for its diuretic, anti-inflammatory, and fever-reducing properties.

9. Health Benefits:

Contains antioxidants, aids digestion, and may help relieve symptoms of arthritis.

10. Sustainability:

An abundant source for sustainable timber and a valuable addition to diverse ecosystems.

Growing Sassafras

Choosing the Right Location

Sassafras trees thrive in *well-drained,* acidic soil.

Make sure to select a location that receives *full to partial sunlight.*

Choose an area where the tree can grow up to 60 feet tall and 30 feet wide.

Planting Sassafras

Plant your sassafras sapling in the spring or fall for the best results.

Dig a hole twice as wide and just as deep as the root ball.

Loosen the roots gently before planting to encourage growth.
  1. Place the sapling in the hole.
  2. Backfill with a mix of soil and compost.
  3. Water thoroughly to settle the soil.

Watering and Care

Water the sapling deeply once a week during the first growing season.

After establishment, sassafras is relatively drought-tolerant.

Mulch around the base to retain moisture and suppress weeds.

I find that a 3-inch layer of organic mulch works wonders.

Pruning and Maintenance

Pruning is generally not necessary for sassafras trees.

However, you can remove any dead or diseased branches as needed.

In my experience, a light pruning every few years keeps the tree healthy.

Note: Sassafras can form root suckers, so be vigilant in removing them if you want to maintain a single-stem tree.

Pest and Disease Management

Sassafras is fairly resistant to most pests and diseases.

However, it can occasionally suffer from root rot in poorly-drained soil.

Ensure good drainage to prevent root rot and other soil-borne diseases.

If you notice any signs of disease, treat them promptly with appropriate organic methods or consult a local expert.

I've successfully used neem oil to manage minor pest issues.

Harvesting Sassafras

The roots, leaves, and bark of sassafras have been traditionally used for various purposes.

Harvest roots in the late fall when the tree is dormant.

Always leave some roots intact to ensure the tree's survival.

Sassafras roots are famous for their use in root beer and traditional teas.

Dry leaves and bark can also be used as a spice or for medicinal purposes.

Seasonal Tips

  • Fertilize each spring with a balanced, slow-release fertilizer.
  • Monitor for any signs of stress or nutrient deficiency.
  • Protect young saplings from extreme weather by using tree wraps.


1. Can I grow sassafras in my garden?

Yes, you can grow sassafras in your garden.

2. When is the best time to plant sassafras?

Plant sassafras in the spring or fall.

3. What type of soil does sassafras prefer?

Sassafras thrives in well-draining soil.

4. Does sassafras require full sun or shade?

Sassafras prefers partial shade.

5. How often should I water my sassafras?

Water sassafras regularly, keeping the soil evenly moist.

6. How tall and wide does sassafras typically grow?

Sassafras can reach heights of 30 to 60 feet and can spread up to 25 feet wide.

7. Does sassafras require any special care?

Sassafras is a low-maintenance tree, requiring minimal care.

8. How long does it take for sassafras to grow?

Sassafras trees can take several years to reach maturity.

9. Can I use sassafras leaves for cooking or medicinal purposes?

Sassafras leaves can be used for cooking and have traditional medicinal uses.

10. Are there any pests or diseases that affect sassafras?

Sassafras may be susceptible to pests such as aphids and scales, as well as fungal diseases.

Growinng Sassafras can add beauty, flavor and fragrance to your garden. Aromatic Sassafras leaves and bark are used to make teas, sauces and other dishes and the plant's attractive leaves make a lovely backdrop for any garden. Sassafras is also rich in vitamins A, C and B and other minerals beneficial to your health. Growing Sassafras can provide a health boost, with all of its healthful properties, and it can enhance the beauty of your garden like nothing else!

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