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Creating a Medicinal Herb Garden: Growing Herbs for Health & Wellness

devon

This post contains affiliate links meaning that I may make a small commission based off of your purchase at no additional cost to you.

seeds and such

Creating a Medicinal Herb Garden: Growing Herbs for Health & Wellness

Devon

Take a step toward self sufficiency with your own medicinal herb garden! Growing herbs and medicinal plants is a sustainable practice to support the health and wellness of your family and garden.

I’ve got a fever.  Spring fever.  And the only cure is more gardening – growing herbs and medicinal plants.  As the seed catalogs arrive in my mailbox with increasing frequency and the daffodils have yet to push through the wet earth with their promise of sunny faces, my thoughts have turned to the garden.  I have a pretty good handle on the vegetable garden plans, and am looking forward to creating an all new culinary herb garden right outside my kitchen door.  But as an herbalist, my gardening dreams would not be complete without a medicinal herb garden from which to gather my remedies.

My little slice of the world offers me an abundance of wild medicinal plants, root, flowers and berries to harvest – mullein, cottonwood, rose, blackberry, comfrey, chickweed, mugwort, St. John’s wort, yellow dock, hawthorn, burdock, horehound, red clover, horehound and dandelion galore (among many others).   Additionally, my culinary herbs such as rosemary, thyme, parsley, sage, lavender, verbena, basil and spearmint offer their own medicinal values too.  But this season I will be dedicating greater space to a medicinal herb garden.

I have to confess something.  I ordered over 50 seed packets from Strictly Medicinal Seeds (formerly Horizon Herbs — this is not a sponsored post and I am not being compensated by Strictly Medicinal, I just like them, ).  Just medicinal plants – no veggies, no ornamentals.  This same woman that will agonize over purchasing a new pair of jeans (even though she just ripped/stained/ruined her very last pair), should not be left alone with a seed catalog/website and a credit card.  I go into a seed shopper’s euphoria and it is a high that I can’t describe.  Sigh…  Good times…  There I go, fantasizing about my next order, and losing my train of thought.

Back to the blog post at hand…

So out of those roughly 50 (okay, closer to 60) seeds packets, I painstakingly selected 15 herbs that I feel should have a place in your medicinal herb garden.  Included here are some healing herbs, some nerve nourishing herbs, some expectorant herbs, some pain relieving herbs, and some immune stimulating herbs.  Hardly comprehensive, my choices for a medicinal herb garden will offer variety and options for my remedies and preparations for my family and clients.  Growing herbs for health and wellness is deeply satisfying.

calendula - medicinal plants

Top Herbs for the Medicinal Herb Garden

Calendula (Calendula officinales)

An absolutely indispensable healing herb, the bright orange calendula of the marigold family is prolific, sunny member of the medicinal herb garden.  Anti-inflammatory, demulcent/emollient and vulnerary (wound healing), I infuse oils for salves and balms, and create teas and tinctures from this remarkable herb.  Bonus, the more flower heads you harvest, the more will grow AND calendula is a fantastic companion plan, deterring nasty bugs!  Learn more about calendula and get an amazing salve recipe in this post.
Reseeding, cold hardly annual
Part to full sun
Well drained soilsholy basil - medicinal herb garden

Holy Basil (Ocimum sanctum)

Also known as Tulsi, holy basil is the Ayurvedic sibling of the more traditional culinary basil we are probably all familiar with.  Holy basil is a reviving, nourishing adaptogen serving to center and calm a stressed out being.  I worship holy basil, no pun intended. The Kapoor variety is suggested for more temperate and northern gardens, although the Krishna variety is considered the most medicinally valuable.  Holy basil in a featured ingredient in this heart loving chai blend.
Annual; reseeding in mild years
Full sun, warm location
Rich, loamy, slightly moist soilslemon balm - growing herbs

Lemon Balm (Melissa officinales)

This quick spreading and vigorous herb offers a soft lemony, slightly mint flavor and aroma and mood elevating and sedative action.  Lemon balm is a go-to herb for the stressed out grump in all of us and the favorite foraging fare for my littlest herbalist-in-training.  It is one of the easiest medicinal plants to grow.
Prolific perennial
Full sun to light shade
Well drained soilspeppermint - herb garden

Peppermint (Mentha x piperita)

Refreshing and stimulating, peppermint is soothes stomach troubles, headaches and pain, while being a flavor powerhouse.  This aromatic medicinal plant can quickly take over a garden so it is a great candidate for growing in a container.
Prolific, hardy perennial
Full sun to light shade
Rich, loamy but well drained soilsfeverfew - herb garden

Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium)

As the name implies, this is a wonderful herb to reduce fever, but is also highly effective for headache and migraine relief.  An excellent addition to the medicinal herb garden, it is such a pretty little daisy like thing too…  Feverfew is often suggested as a companion plant for roses.  Growing herbs can be healthful for you and your landscape!
Herbaceous perennial
Full sun to part shade
Modestly rich, well drained soilpassionflower

Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata)

Stunningly beautiful and named with biblical connotation, the leaves and flowers of this extraordinary vine induce gentle and restful sleep.  Passionflowers are fragrant and a power attractor of pollinators. Should you be inclined to not harvest all the gorgeous flowers, the pulp covered seeds inside the yellow skin are a tasty treat.  Passionflower can be tricky to start from seed; may be advisable to purchase an established vine.
Perennial vine; needs support trellising
Full sun to part shade
Thrives in modest, well drained soils

astragalus
Astragalus picture courtesy of pfaf.org

Astragalus (Astragalus membranaceus/propinquus)

This is one of my absolute favorite roots for supporting and stimulating the immune system.  I tincture the roots as well as grind them to a powder for encapsulation.  I include astragalus in this elderberry syrup.
Hardy perennial
Full sun
Well drained soilechinacea -antiviral herbs

Echinacea (Echinacea angustifolia)

Of all the Echinacea available, angustifolia is  the most medicinally valuable.  Echinacea is considered an “at-risk” herb due to overharvest of wild plants and habitat depletion.  By growing this popular but endangered herb in your own medicinal herb garden, you not only provide your family with its immune supportive roots, but also contribute to the greater good.  Echinacea is include in my round up of the best herbs for the cold and flu season.
Hardy perennial
Full sun
Well drained, gravelly soil with regular wateringelecampane - growing herbs for medicine

Elecampane (Inula helenium)

With an affinity for the respiratory system, elecampane is lung friendly, while the inulin content of the root is indicated for maintaining blood sugar levels and promoting good gut flora.
Hardy perennial
Full sun to part shade
Prefers moist soil, but not picky otherwisemotherwort - growing herbs for medicine

Motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca)

While the common name for this herb is rather blah – the Latin name, oh my…  Translating to “lion heart”, Leonurus cardiaca, otherwise known as motherwort, is a powerful addition to your medicinal herb garden.  A specific for women’s health, motherwort helps to regulate/normalize cycles and hormonal/emotional imbalance, and is even suggested for weakness and passivity.  Additionally, this herb is indicated for the strengthening of the heart and reduction in palpitations/tachycardia.  In interest of full disclosure, this motherwort is one bitter mutha – not an herb for sipping as a simple tea! Instead consider in encapsulated form, in a syrup or infused honey, or in a tea with other flavorful and aromatic herbs.
Reseeding perennial
Part shade to full sun
Likes moist soils of poor fertilitychamomile - medicinal herb garden

German Chamomile (Matricaria recutita)

Such a well known and loved herb certainly has a place in your medicinal herb garden.  Floral and sedative, chamomile is also wonderful relaxing diaphoretic for reducing fever.  I include chamomile with linden leaf and rose in this “depressurizing tea“.
Annual
Full sun
Well drained soilyarrow - growing herbs for medicine

Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)

Yarrow is my go-to first aid herb.  As its Latin implies association with the Greek hero Achilles, yarrow is used as a styptic to staunch the flow of blood from wounds. I enjoy growing herbs like yarrow as they come in many different colors for lots of garden interest (white and pink being considered the most medicinally valuable varieties). It is also a wonderful stimulating diaphoretic, expectorant, and liver supportive herb.  Yarrow is really hands down one of my favorite medicinal plants.  Learn more about yarrow here.
Hardy Perennial
Full sun to part shade
Well drained soils with regular moistureskullcap - medicinal plants

Skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora)

Despite its somewhat macabre sounding name, skullcap is an exception herb for mental health.  Indicated for nervousness, over thinking, panic and racing thoughts, skullcap is wonderful prepared as a tea or tincture.  I find myself combing this herb with lemon balm and St. John’s wort for those struggling with mild depression, grief and agitation.
Hardy, but short live perennial
Full sun
Prefers moist soil; not choosy about texturearnica - growing medicinal herbs

Arnica (Arnica montana)

When growing conditions permit, no medicinal herb garden should be without some arnica.  Indicated for bruising, swelling and trauma, arnica salves, balms and compresses will speed the healing process and abate discoloration. You might consider learning more about arnica and making an excellent salve for sprains and strain with this post. FOR EXTERNAL USE ONLY (on unbroken skin)
Perennial
Full sun to part shade
Prefers well drained, but moist soilshyssop - growing a medicinal herb garden

Hyssop (Hyssopus officinales)

Highly aromatic, hyssop is indicated for wet, heavy coughs, asthma, upset stomachs and intestinal parasites.  Once considered a “cure-all” the useful hyssop has fallen out of favor.  Considered very powerful, I recommend hyssop as a tea or infusion rather that an alcohol based tincture unless under the guidance of a naturopath or experienced herbalist. Growing herbs like hyssop will also increase the number of pollinators such as hummingbirds visiting your garden.
Evergreen shrub
Full sun
Prefers light to loamy soilsmarshmallow - growing medicinal herbs

Marshmallow (Althaea officinales)

Beautiful, gentle marshmallow.  This soft and sweet sounding root is an extraordinary delmulcent herb, healing and soothing  inside and out.  Growing herbs like marshmallow and its siblings Rose of Sharon and hollyhocks adds old fashioned beauty to your garden space!
Perennial
Full sun
Tolerates moist to dry soil conditions

NOTE: Given the right conditions some of these herbs can become invasive (I am looking at you peppermint and lemon balm…).  Please consider your growing conditions and containers is necessary.

Well there you have it –15 medicinal——- wait, let’s count those…  Ugh, 16. Sixteen choices for your medicinal herb garden.  While this a great list for those in temperate climates please consider choices best suited for your particular climate zone and growing conditions,. You will have the greatest success growing herbs that are well suited to you climate and soil types and now forced unsuitable herbs to “meet you were you are”.  That said, I have selected medicinal plants that I feel are a valuable part of the herbalist’s apothecary.  Please refer to the seed packet or nursery tag for information on your particular selection such as germination, maturity, etc.  With consideration for various factors, growing herbs and other medicinal plants should be successful and rewarding.

Learn more about other medicinal plants like trees and shrubs in this post.

Interested in learning more about common wild medicinal plants?  Check out my new book The Backyard Herbal Apothecary!

Before taking these or any other herbs, ALWAYS review for contraindication, drug interaction and recommended dosage.  Please seek the advice of a qualified healthcare professional for your particular health concerns.


FDA Disclosure

I am a trained herbalist with a degree in Complementary and Alternative Medicine, I am not, however, a doctor. Posts in this blog are for informational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice. Before using any herbs, check for appropriate dosage, drug interactions, and contraindications. Information contained herein is not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prescribe. Please consult your primary care physician regarding your specific health concerns.


Medicinal Herb Garden

References:
Petersen, D. Herbal Materia Medica. ACHS, Portland, OR. 2016
Plants for a Future http://www.pfaf.org/user/Default.aspx
Strictly Medicinal Seeds  https://www.strictlymedicinalseeds.com/pilot.asp

Devon

Devon is a writer and author on subjects of holistic and sustainable living. She has a degree in Complementary and Alternative Medicine from the American College of Healthcare Sciences, and her first book, The Backyard Herbal Apothecary, will be published by Page Street Publishing in Spring 2019. Devon's work outside of NittyGrittyLife.com can be seen at LearningHerbs.com, GrowForageCookFerment.com, AttainableSustainable.net, and in the magazine The Backwoods Home. Devon's second book, as yet untitled will be published Fall 2019.

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About Me

About Me

Meet the Nitty Gritty Mama, Devon!

I am an herbalist, farmer, cook, and forager. I get my hands dirty and am not afraid to do things the "hard way". Sharing my Nitty Gritty Life with you! Read More

Devon

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