Growing a garden is a fun and rewarding pastime. Cultivating medicinal garden plants takes your backyard dirt patch to a whole new level. Luckily, it’s easy to plan a medicinal garden that’s both lovely and useful.
Many common garden plants have medicinal qualities. You can make some into healing teas, rub others onto bug bites, and use others to boost your immune system. We’ll take you through the full step-by-step process of planning and growing your medicinal garden.
Get to Know Your Growing Conditions
Before you rush out to the store to purchase your medicinal plants and herbs, make sure you’re ready.
When you’re planning a medicinal garden, you need to take into account your growing conditions. Even if you want a small windowsill garden of herbs, you’ll need to think about intensity and duration of sunlight.
If your medicinal garden will be outdoors, think about your growing season length, soil type, precipitation levels, and daily temperature fluctuations. Which plants will thrive in your garden depends on what your environment is like.
You can reach out to a local landscaper, horticulturist, or botanist for suggestions on local medicinal plants. Researching ethnobotany will also help you further understand native plants that were traditionally used for medicine. Many medicinal plants are considered sacred and knowledge of their use is carried on for generations.
Select Medicinal Plants Carefully
Some medicinal plants are hardier than others. If you’re a new gardener, pick plants that tolerate mistakes well. Regardless of your expertise, ensure that you’re selecting plants that will do reasonably well in your growing conditions.
If you’re having a hard time identifying the local plants that grow well in your area, check out the PlantSnap app for help.
Some common medicinal plants for your garden include:
Uses: Oil and salve for rashes, burns, and dry skin. Also an edible garnish.
Physical Looks: Bright orange or red flowers, up to 18 inches tall
Growing Notes: Full sun, average soil. Can be grown easily from seed. Annual.
Uses: Tincture and tea to ease stress, headache, cramps, and anxiety.
Physical Looks: Three to five feet tall, slender with purple flowers growing from the stem.
Growing Notes: Prefers full sun to partial shade. Easily transplanted or grown from seed.
Uses: Immune-stimulating tea or tincture.
Physical Looks: A striking purple flower atop a three to four foot tall plant.
Growing Notes: Very hardy, withstands disease, pest, and drought well. Perennial.
Uses: Skin care for rashes, sunburn, eczema.
Physical Looks: A greyish-green succulent with plump leaves. Aloe Vera flowers grow on a spiky stalk up to three feet long.
Growing Notes: Very tolerant of poor soil and drought, avoid freezing. Full sun.
Uses: Tea to calm an upset stomach, sniffed to reduce nausea and motion sickness. Mint poultice can soothe irritated skin.
Physical Looks: A bright green plant with serrated leaves.
Growing Notes: Peppermint is a small herb that will grow well in full sun with loamy soil and regular watering.
Uses: A tea to promote sleep and digestion.
Physical Looks: A small plant with daisy-like white and yellow flowers.
Growing Notes: Chamomile grows quickly and generally withers after about six weeks, so many growers will plant two rounds. Chamomile does well with sunny, well-drained growing conditions.
Uses: Calm anxiety, reduce fevers, and soothe digestion with a refreshing tea.
Physical Looks: A sprawling, two foot tall herb.
Growing Notes: Lemon Balm prefers moist, open soils and grows larger in the shade. Prune back flowerheads to avoid it becoming invasive around your home.
Uses: Spilanthes creates a numbing sensation when eaten. It also has antiviral and antibacterial properties.
Physical Looks: Spilanthes grows to about one foot tall and has unusual, red and yellow flowers that look like little buttons.
Growing Notes: Spilanthes is frost sensitive, but does well as an annual plant in rich soil. The seeds need direct sunlight to germinate, do not bury them.
Uses: Johnny Jump-Up can help soothe eczema and blemishes.
Physical Looks: A small, bright plant with violet-like flowers.
Growing Notes: Johnny Jump-Up prefers full to partial sun. It does best with Start indoors six to eight weeks before the last frost for spring blooms.
Lay Out Your Plans
Once you know which medicinal plants you’ll use in your medicinal garden, it’s time to plan it out. Try to think about the heights of mature plants and color schemes as you lay out your garden. Taller plants should be in the back, closer to a building. If you’ve got a large garden, you’ll want to intersperse colors and ensure that flower colors fit together.
Mixing textures, colors, heights, and hardscape features will help make your medicinal garden just as beautiful as a garden that’s designed for beauty alone.
If your garden provides full sun but some plants need shade, you can plant them under or near larger plants. Carefully planning your garden will help you work with your growing conditions, rather than against them.
Bring it All Together
Planning your medicinal garden doesn’t have to be a full time job, but take the time to ensure that you’re selecting plants that will do well in your growing conditions. Be sure to think about sun, soil type, temperature, and precipitation. Then, pick out the medicinal plants that will do well in your garden and serve the purpose you desire. Finally, plan out how your garden will come together.
Once you’re done with all of your planning, it’s time to buy plants and get to work! Check out your local garden store to get started.