Adding medicinal herbs and flowers to the garden
I love gardening and enjoying my veggies and fruits. But this year I’d like to add some medicinal herbs and flowers. I’m interested in hearing what your “go to” medicinal herbs and flowers you would include in a home garden? I live in the mid-Atlantic northeastern part of the states. Thanks for the help!
@burekcrew86 Big topic!!! How big is the area you plan to allot to medicinal plants? That is going to determine how many species you can have. Some plants, comfrey for example can take up a huge space in a small garden. But comfrey would be one of the first plants I put in. It has several medicinal uses, it has beautiful flowers and they attract bees. Comfrey is also a great addition to the compost pile. There are others that are multi-purpose, like calendula. It is an awesome medicinal (antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, vulnerary, etc.), the flower is edible and it looks beautiful. Win, win, win. The list of multi-use goes on: Bee Balm (aka Bergamot), Catnip, Lemon Balm, Nasturtiums, Hyssop. If you have the space for a vine I would plant Hops. Horseradish, like comfrey takes up a large space in a small garden but makes a nice landscape plant in addition to making horseradish sauce and the medicinal properties (so good in Fire Cider). There are your standard kitchen herbs that also have medicinal properties. Sage, Thyme, Rosemary, Parsley, Tarragon, Mint varieties (there are many delicious flavours, but be cautious as most of these will spread and take over your garden). Some of these also have beautiful flowers like sage and rosemary. The fruit sages are also lovely. Lemon verbena is primarily thought of as a culinary herb but it has such a wonderful flavour that holds when dried and it does have some medicinal properties. If you have room for bushes/shrubs I would definitely purchase a couple of elderberries, if you don't have wild ones in your area. See if there are any endangered species in your area and plant some of those. Goldenseal, ginseng, echinaceae.
Hope that gets you started.
Leslie Carl Posts: 255 ✭✭✭✭
Comfrey is a 'must have' for the garden. It's strong deep roots loosen up compacted soil and dredge up NPK (nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium) and make it available to other plants. It's blossoms attract bees and it is a great companion plant for fruit trees. It can be cut several times during the season and spread around as green mulch. As a healing herb, it relieves pain and fights inflammation. One of it's nicknames is Boneset because using a poultice of it over a broken or fractured bone will speed it's healing.
Be aware, that there are 2 types of comfrey. One is invasive and will spread and take over an area, and the other is non-invasive. Bocking #4 and #14 Russian Comfrey are domesticated, non-invasive variants of Russian Comfrey. Bocking comfrey plants do not spread or seed, and can remain where they are planted for years. So be sure you get the right type for your needs.
Yarrow is always good to have around but will tend to spread, so you will want to contain it. It's well known for reducing fevers and stopping bleeding. A good companion for fruit trees as well and it's blossoms attracts pollinators.
For help in repelling insects, I have sage, oregano, thyme, rosemary, lemongrass and mint interspersed throughout the garden. I also plant basil in with my tomatoes and peppers.
Other medicinal flowers you might want to plant are calendula, chamomile, lavender and echinacea. All of them will attract pollinators. Butterflies especially like the echinacea. Calendula repels a wide range of insects and lavender will deter deer.
Happy planting! 🙂
@torey @Leslie Carl - Thank you both for your excellent suggestions. I do grow some of the herbs mentioned for culinary uses and herbal teas. I planted elderberry and echinacea last year. I don’t have a ton of space to devote to medicinal herbs and flowers but would like to tuck them in where I can and maybe grow a few in containers. Any helpful tips are appreciated.
@burekcrew86 i like your idea of tucking in little herbs here and there among the vegetables. Take a look at which herbs would be good companion plants for the vegetables you’re growing. You could kill 2 birds with one stone (so to speak).
@burekcrew86 I go with the let your food be your medicine and your medicine be your food theme ;-) I have a lot of the culinary herbs mentioned above and at least three different mint, lemon balm chives in the borders of soem garden beds. I use calendula and french maigold throughout the garden as pest repellend and plan on harvesting the flowers for salves and tea. lavender is used a a garden border and I collect the flowers and used the bee attracting power. The yarrow mentioned by @Leslie Carl i have in the flower border as they are quite ornamental too. Same goe for nasturtiums, bee balm and echinacea. you can have a medicinal garden with the flower types hidden as your front yard actually ;-)
I planted comfrey two years ago and as long as you chop it prior to the flowers setting seeds all is well.
As I cannot grow them outdoors all year long I plant ginger and tumeric in pots and have them sitting outside on the deck in the warmer month.
I forage for elderberry and rosehips in the surrounding neighbourhood for sirups, teas and jam.
Calendula, St. John's Wort, parsley, rosemary, tarragon, and basil.
I live on the west coast but I have grown Lemon Balm (it grew everywhere), Cinnamon Basil, Parsley, Cilantro (it gets to warm for it in the middle of June), There are a lot of herbs that cannot be grown because of allergies. Great topic!
I would also like to suggest Calendula. The flowers look so cheerful they can be tucked in anywhere - front or back garden. They self-seed every year and pretty much take care of themselves. I use the blossoms in my skin care recipes.
All of the above are great, another one I would definitely have is heartsease, it will self-seed and pop up in all sorts of places, its lovely face provides a nice colour and as a tea or tincture it is good for skin conditions. You can get the standard purple/yellow and also a purple/orange to provide a change :)
In the past few years I have been expanding this area of my garden more as well :) Medicinal plants that I have found to be the most useful so far include comfrey, dandelion, plantain, chamomile, Calendula and Aronia berry (even though this is a shrub). We have just decided on a permanent spot to designate as our herb bed (since we grow so many!), so I will be following this post closely to get more ideas of what to include medicinally as we expand :) Thanks for posting!
3 years ago, I decided i want an edible landscape. The medicinal plants I love looking at are chamomile, calendula, echinacea and parsley. If you have room (pots work great) yellow primrose and purple basil look good and taste great.4 · Share on Twitter
I live in west central Indiana. I grow echinacea, lavender, plantain, calendula, comfrey, chamomile, basil, thyme, oregano, date, astragalus, yarrow, elecampne. I forage for others. I plan to add others this year. Companion planting is helpful.
I've tucked a few things in among the veggies and the flowers. The things that did really well are mint, lemon balm, French thyme, lavender, rosemary, sage, and yarrow.
Now that it looks like I'm headed back to Missouri, I will not plant anything else in this garden. That makes me kind of sad.
@Mary Linda Bittle I was very sad to move away from my plants two years ago. Looks like the new owner of the house hasn't killed them yet.
Moving away from your garden is so hard. I’m glad the new people haven’t killed off everything.
I'm sorry if I missed it, but Borage is another lovely herb that works well as an ornamental.
I live in a suburban area and we don't have much land but I'm taking over the yard bit by bit.. one day I'll finally talk my husband into abandoning the grass area all together.. it seems like a waste of space to me except the dandelions love it. I have calendula by my tomatoes, chamomile, sage, fever few, holy basil (tulsi oh so good for you and great for a quick tea) peppermint, spearmint, lavender, and comfrey is what I've gotten so far with great success are 9-10 southern California.
I started my medicinal garden with Rosemary Gladstars top 10 must have herbs. This compares well with Dr. Patrick Jones must haves as well. Mostly these are food/medicine so they are versatile in use. Now I grow herbs that specifically help me keep medicine stocked in areas my family needs! For example LOTS of nettles!! I make a salve for several family members with rheumatoid arthritis. And lady’s mantle to help me control excessive prolonged menses. I planted two varieties of elderberries last year, I’m excited to have my own supply of elderberry. I also plant copious amounts of basil but that gets out in my veggie garden because it MOSTLY gets used for pesto!
We built a 4 level, 2 sided terrace to exclusively grow herbs. I’m out of room. Lol top pic is from early spring last year and 2nd pic is from September last year.6 · Share on Twitter
I find that rosemary grows well in containers - most of the culinary herbs do. I've left my rosemary and thyme pots out all winter and they came back the next year. That way you can leave the ground space for the larger plants.
@devi Wow. Where in Canada do you live that rosemary comes back? I have seen rosemary growing into a large bush on the west coast but that lives year round; it doesn't die back and then regrow. Unless I bring mine in, in pots, they will not survive.
Wonderful information. Thank you all for sharing. Hoping to get my garden in this year and wanted to add more medicinals, so this is great timing.
@torey my Rosemary in SC came back every year. Huge bush. Had to leave it behind when we moved to GA. Hoping to get a new one going here.
@herbantherapy that is an awesome garden! Thank you so much for sharing.
Have started and moved away from several really nice herb gardens as work brings us to new locations; shared cuttings and seeds with previous neighbors; hoping the plants still thrive. Will be growing medicinals and pollinator friendly plants among vegetables in balcony container-garden this year. A new challenge.
Edible and some medicinal flowers: calendula, gem marigolds, nasturtiums, johnny-jump-ups. Scarlet runner beans and hyacinth beans (Lablab purpureus) have edible flowers as well as beans!
I like to grow perennial herbs as much as possible, it makes care generally easier, so I prefer winter savory (perennial) over summer savory (annual).
I love elecampane, which has medicinal roots, but it can be a bit pushy when it is happy. I also love valerian, which has delicate flowers with a spice scent and is known as garden heliotrope. The flowers can be used medicinally as milder versions of the roots. BTW, for some reason cats LOVE valerian roots as much as catnip, so watch out if you have a cat. And speaking of catnip--it is a good-looking plant and a lovely tea plant, good also for calming, colds and flus. And anise hyssop is so beautiful and a wonderful pollinator attractor as well as edible and medicinal. Pretty much all of these will spread given a chance, so just watch out in future years. Also, anise hyssop doesn't come up till fairly late in the spring, so if you plant it and it has not appeared the following year, wait till summer before you despair.
For those wanting to grow rosemary--it is hardy only from USDA zone 7 on up. So if you live in places where it snows in winter or even has big freezes, you will find it will not make it through the winter. Sometimes if it is in a sheltered spot in a colder area it may survive.
It is known as a tender perennial because while it is perennial in warmer climes, it is "tender"--will get killed by frost--in colder climates.
Rosemary does well in CA because it is warm enough there year-round, so it can make big bushes or run along many yards if it's the creeping variety. Elsewhere the plant has to come in for the winter in order to survive.
I keep it in a pot year-round, and bring it out in summer and inside in the winter. Other people may choose to put their rosemary in the ground and dig it up and pot it in the fall before taking it inside.
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