Imagine creating a medicinal herb garden and healing whatever ails you from your own backyard.
It’s easier than you think.
Many healing herbs are simple to grow, especially for newbies. Their vibrant flowers will brighten up any garden, even if you only have space for a few pots.
There are a zillion medicinal herbs you could start with, so figuring out where to begin can be daunting. But don’t fret, my friend. We’ve got you covered.
Let’s begin at the beginning…
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How Do I Plan Which Medicinal Herbs To Grow?
Step 1: Make A Wish List Of The Medicinal Herbs You’d Like To Grow
Are you already using medicinal herbs? If so, figure out which ones you and your family use the most and write them down.
If you’re just getting started growing healing herbs, then think about which ailments you have or get most often. A cold? Headaches? Stuffy nose?
Or if someone in your family has a medical condition, like high cholesterol or high blood pressure, do a little research into what plants can help.
Once you have a list of the medicinal herbs you’d like to plant, the next step is to determine if they’ll be happy and healthy in your garden.
Step 2: Decipher Which Plants On Your Wish List You Actually Can Grow
As with any garden, the plants you choose are specific to your conditions—soil, weather, sun, drainage etc. These are called cultural requirements and are the conditions each medicinal herb, or any plant, needs to thrive.
Delve into how many hours of sunlight your garden gets. Many herbs need 6-8 hours of sunshine a day, so if your garden has more shade than sun, you need to plant accordingly.
Research every herb on your list and find out what kind of water requirements it has.
What kind of soil makes it the happiest?
What are the high and low temps it can withstand?
You need to know it all before you buy a seed.
Once you’ve gone through your list, you’ll have probably narrowed it down quite a bit just on those cultural requirements alone.
Step 3: Plan Your Medicinal Herb Garden Out On Paper
Actually draw out your space. It may sound silly, but it’ll help in the long run.
Yes, this is a medicinal herb garden, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be beautiful. Many herbs have flowers, and you don’t want to plant all the pink flowering plants together. Planning it out on paper helps.
Also, if you have a small space, it’ll help you make sure you get it all in. And if you plan it well, you could have something gorgeous and healthy blooming for three seasons. How happy would that be?
Now that you’ve turned your wish-list into a can-list (is that a term? It is now), it’s time to start the planting process.
When planning your medicinal herb garden layout, something else to think about are all the deer that will inevitably use your herbs as a meal replacement plan. Deer eat almost everything, so you just need to accept it and plant accordingly. Of course, you could put up a fence or a cage, but as effective as they are, they aren’t very pretty.
The other option is companion planting some deer-repelling plants next to the deer snacks. Most deer don’t like strong smelling, needle-shaped, or bitter plants, so plant a few of those, and hopefully, they will send the deer to your least favorite neighbor’s garden.
Here is a list of deer-repellers:
- Bunny Tails
- Lemon Balm
- Straw Flower
How To Start Planting A Medicinal Herb Garden
Start With The Basics: Nutritious Soil
For a healthy plant, you’ll need to start with healthy soil.
How can you tell if your soil is healthy? For a start, it should be moist and have some earthworms and creepy crawlies squirming around in it. It should look dark and rich.
If you currently have something growing in your garden, how does it look? Is it leafy and green? Good. That’s a great sign.
Still not sure, try this test:
Pour a glass of water onto the soil. If it absorbs within five seconds, you probably have delicious dirt on your hands.
If you don’t have the best soil, don’t fret. It’s fixable. You can start by amending the soil with things like organic compost, or nitrogen or by busting up clay clumps. There are quite a few methods to fix your soil depending on what ails it.
Another Essential: Healthy Seeds, Cuttings Or Plants
Be sure to get your seeds from a good company.
And if you are getting seedlings or cuttings from friends, make sure they are healthy. Check out the garden they came from.
Get Planting Your Medicinal Herbs
Once the frost and threat of it have passed, it’s time to start planting your seeds.
First, prepare the healthy soil by giving it a light rake. Remove any rocks larger than a marble. Then make small holes in the soil keeping in mind they will need room for growth. Since each herb is different, some might only need 2 inches of space. But plants like mint will need a lot more.
Ask wherever you buy the seeds and they should know.
Then, toss soil over the top of the seeds—a light coating will do. Then give them a good water.
Now, Be Patient
Gardening is a test of patience and growing anything from a seed is the ultimate trial. However, in a couple of weeks, you should start seeing a little sprout here and there to boost your garden morale.
Best Plants For A Medicinal Garden
Now you know how to start growing your healing herbs, but here is a list of the top medicinal herbs and what they do.
Bees love a lemon balm plant, which is a good thing. Pollinators are the VIPs of the garden world.
Lemon balm has been around for over 2000 years and is a member of the mint family. It’s been used traditionally to reduce fevers, cramps, headaches and even insomnia. Additionally, it’s been proven to calm anxiety in more recent years.
Pro tip: Since it’s related to mint, you’ll need to give this baby space as it flourishes.
This beauty of a purple coneflower herb is one of the top-selling herbs in health food stores. It’s a super-duper immune booster and also a fan favorite of butterflies.
It’s a pretty easy and hardy plant to grow, so it’s excellent for newbies. Echinacea is also a perennial, so it’ll show up year after year once you plant it.
Pro tip: Echinacea thrives in well-drained soil and can survive on less water than most plants. So, if you forget to water it, it’ll be ok. Also, it’s ok with part shade, so keep that in mind when mapping out your garden.
Holy basil is closely related to common basil but is a little more pungent. Use Holy Basil as you would common basil for anything you cook, like pesto.
It is great for coughs, bronchitis, stress, and anxiety. In recent years, its adaptogenic benefits have been used for mental clarity and focus.
Pro tip: The seeds are teeny tiny, so don’t plant them too deep. And they may take some time to get sizable but be patient. They’ll sprout.
Want to learn more about foods that can help heal? Check out all our nutrition resources here.
Calendula’s happy golden flowers are a tasty treat when added to salads. It’s like eating a little bite of sunshine with every petal.
When the whole flower is used in a tea or tincture, it’s fantastic for GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) and heartburn.
Topically, calendula has been used for diaper rash, dry skin, burns and other wounds.
Pro tip: Calendula loves full sun, and if you pick the flowers every couple of days, it’ll prolong the flowering season.
Ashwagandha, also known as Indian Ginseng, has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries.
Nowadays, it’s a prevalent medicinal herb for women going through menopause and is packed with iron, fatty acids, tannins, potassium, and flavonoids. It targets the endocrine system, which is what secretes hormones and keeps them balanced.
Want to learn more? Read this Ashwagandha for Menopause article.
Pro tip: Ashwagandha is a drought-tolerant plant and thrives in well-drained dryer soil. But it needs lots of sun.
If you want more insight on what plants to grow, check out this video highlighting different medicinal herbs and their health benefits.
The Last Seed
Got littles? You probably need an overall immune booster like echinacea. And at the very least, something that fixes scrapes and cuts like calendula.
What about someone in the family with anxiety? Plant holy basil.
We’ve barely scraped the surface when it comes to starting a medicinal herb garden. However, the possibilities and benefits of having a pharmacy in your own backyard are limitless.
Disclaimer: We are not medical professionals. Don’t just take our word for it and plant some echinacea and then go off your prescription drugs. Do your own research and discuss taking any medicinal herbs with a trusted professional.