Growing Medicinal Herbs

By | April 23, 2014

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Here are some growing tips and information about growing specific medicinal herbs.

Angelica Angelica archangelica 

Medicinal gardens crave the presence of this, the official species. Bitter aromatic, antimicrobial and carminative. Cultivate in ordinary deep, moist loam, in a shady position, as the plant thrives best in a damp soil and loves to grow near running water.


Arnica Arnica montana 

Herbaceous perennial for cold and hardy zones. Sow within a mix of loam, peat moss, and sand in the spring. Likes acid pH, full sun, moisture, and a high altitude. Used for sprains, bruises, soaks, compresses, and an ingredient for salves and oils. The flowers are collected entire and dried, but the receptacles are sometimes removed as they are liable to be attacked by insects. The root is collected in autumn after the leaves have died down.


Ashwagandha Withania somnifera 

Herbaceous perennial in the tropics, annual in temperate zones. Start indoors and transplant as you would tomatoes. Does not tolerate cold conditions well. Ginseng-like Ayurvedic tonic mainly for physical and mental exhaustion.Easy to grow, unusual and useful, also increasingly popular herb for selling. Dried root is a Ginseng-like tonic of the Ayurvedics.


Astragalus Astragalus membranaceous 

Herbaceous perennial. Direct seed in early spring, good cold soil germinator. Prefers full sun, average soil and good drainage. Chinese tonic herb, with immune enhancing qualities. Herb improves function of liver, lungs, and spleen.


Basil, Holy Ocimum sanctum 

Sow directly or in greenhouse in Spring or Summer. Prefers full sun, rich soil, and plenty of water This variety is purple stemmed and highly aromatic.Adaptogenic, antifungal, antibacterial, immune enhancing, and of the Ayurvedic tradition.


blueberries1Blueberries Vaccinium formosum 

Three types of blueberries, all do well in their particular zones. Small bushes, they do well in gardens or containers. Requiring a low pH soil, yellow berries means the soil needs a treatment of an acidic mulch. Once mature, a blueberry bush will produce fruit for at least a decade, up to 8 or more pounds per bush.


Borage Borago officinalis 

Annual, direct seed in mid-spring. Very easy to grow, and will self sow. Delightful blue/purple flowers for salads, teas and desserts. Put them in ice cube trays for winter surprises. Gladdens the heart.


Burdock Arctium lappa 

Perennial or self seeding annuals. Direct seed in late spring, prefers slight shade with good drainage and sandy soil. Plant closely for best yield and proliferation. Harvest root during dormant period after the first year to make oil. Leaves make a lovely poultice for skin damage. It will grow in almost any soil, but the roots are formed best in a light well-drained soil. The seeds germinate readily and may be sown directly in the field, either in autumn or early spring, in drills 18 inches to 3 feet apart, sowing 1 inch deep in autumn, but less in spring. The young plants when well up are thinned out to 6 inches apart in the row.


Calendula Calendula officinalis 

Annual and self seeding. Direct seed in warm soil and full sun. Will proliferate fast and easily. Harvest bright orange flowers throughout year. Premier healing agent in salves, tinctures or masticated and applied to external injuries. Seeds sown in April, in any soil, in sunny, or half-sunny places germinate freely. They require no other cultivation but to keep them clean from weeds and to thin out where too close, leaving them 9 to 10 inches apart, so that their branches may have room to spread. The plants will begin to flower in June, and continue flowering until the frost kills them. They will increase from year to year, if allowed to seed themselves. The seeds ripen in August and September, and if permitted to scatter will furnish a supply of young plants in the spring.


Catnip Nepeta cataria 

Herbaceous perennial. Highly aromatic plant in the mint family. Direct seed or start in flats in mid-spring. Prefers warm soil and full/partial sun.Gentle sedative, aromatic and calming. Catmint is easily grown in any garden soil, and does not require moisture in the same way as the other Mints. It may be increased by dividing the plants in spring, or by sowing seeds at the same period. Sow in rows, about 20 inches apart, thinning out the seedlings to about the same distance apart as the plants attain a considerable size. Attracts bees….and of course cats!


Cayenne Capsicum 

Annual. Start inside six to eight weeks before last frost, or sow directly after all danger of frost is past. Prefers full sun, and most types of soil. To avoid damaging the blooms, it’s best to use a drip watering system or a soaker hose. Mildly analgesic, anti-inflammatory and a metabolism stimulant.


Chamomile, German Certified Organic 

Annual. Self seeding and extremely vigorous. Sow directly in Fall or mid-Winter. Prefers full sun, and most types of soil. This is the delightfully aromatic Chamomile of tea fame. Perfect for gentle bedtime sedation or for treating stomachache.


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See Also:

Growing Herbal Remedies

Growing Herb Gardens with Children 

Lifeline Medicinal Seeds Kit from Horizon Herbs (Certified Organic)

This beautifully packaged set of seeds is a great foundation primer for those wishing to start a medicinal herb garden. (Each packet of seeds is certified organic through OTCO.)

Each kit contains 1 packet of each: Astragulus (50 seeds) Holy Basil (100 seeds) Burdock (100 seeds) Calendula (100 seeds) German Chamomile (500 seeds) Echinacea purpurea (200 seeds) Elecampane (100 seeds) Evening primrose (200 seeds) Flax (200 seeds)Lemon Balm (200 seeds) Marshmallow (100 seeds) Motherwort (200 seeds) Nettles (400 seeds) Cayenne pepper (100 seeds) Sage (100 seeds) Valerian (100 seeds) Wood Betony (100 seeds) Yarrow (200 seeds)

Lifeline Medicinal Seeds Kit is available from Mountain Rose Herbs seed section under “L”.

My friend Liz has a website The Herb Guide which has information about growing and preserving herbs along with their culinary and medicinal uses. Good health starts from the inside and if you can use herbs to flavor your food instead of salts and preservatives, you’ll have a head start.

Are you interested in attracting bees to your herb garden? If so, check out herb planting for bees to learn more about this fun and interesting subject.