Growing medicinal herbs is a fabulous way to bring pollinators and beauty to your garden while also being able to create wonderful herbal preparations with your harvests. One major benefit of growing your own medicinal herbs is that you know the conditions your plants were grown in. You’ll know exactly when they were harvested, the closer to harvest date, the more nourishing the plants will be. With small space gardening, growing real estate is at a premium, I always tell people to grow things that have more than one use in small spaces, medicinal herbs fit this. Below are six medicinal herbs that you can grow well from seed in small space gardens. I have included what parts of the plant are used for herbal preparations.
- Anise Hyssop/Licorice Mint (Agastache foeniculum) – Flowering tops, leaves, stems and flowers. Can be used to make tea, tinctures, infused honey and syrup, herbal steam for respiratory congestion, etc., as a flavoring agent for homemade sodas(syrup or infusion added)
- Bee Balm/Wild Bergamot (Monarda didyma, M. Fistulosa) – I recommend growing these in containers, they are part of the mint family and can spread like mint. Leaves and flowers are used medicinally for tea, tinctures, vinegars, poultices and even pestos or salad dressings. Their flowers make fantastic additions to herbal ice cubes.
- Calendula/Pot Marigold (Calendula officinalis) – Stunning flowers with consistent blooms when harvested every few days. Remove any flowers that look worse for wear. The key with any cut and come again flowers is to keep harvesting, and harvest often. (If any flowers go to seed it will slow or stop growth.) With calendula, you want to use the entire flower head including the green sticky part where a lot of its herbal constituents are. They are many uses for calendula including teas, tinctures, compresses and my favorite, salves.
- California Poppy (Eschscholzia californica) – The traditional orange variety is what is used for herbal preparations, while there are many multicolored varieties that make beautiful flowers to grow, stick to the orange variety for herbal purposes. I grow both mixed colorful varieties as well as the traditional orange. The parts used most often are the leaves, flowers and seed pods for tinctures.
- Echinacea (Echinacea purpurea) – Echinacea has many uses including teas, tinctures, salves, etc. The entire plant is used for herbal preparations, the flowers, the roots, the seeds, the whole thing!
- Tulsi/Holy Basil (Ocimum tenuiflorum) – The leaves and flowers are used with tulsi for tea, tinctures, pestos, vinegars, etc. This is one of my favorite medicinal herbs to grow. The scent is absolutely amazing. Basil tea is a fantastic treat when chilled on a hot summer day. (Add in herbal ice cubes for even more fun and deliciousness.
There are many more medicinal herbs that do well with small space gardening, these are just a few to get you started and do well with beginner gardeners. You can add herbs in containers wherever you have the correct amount of sunlight for the specific plants needs.(Do your research when purchasing seeds, good seed companies will have this information on the seed packets as well as their website.) There are medicinal herbs that do well in shade or partial shade, so you can tuck those into usually less than ideal spaces for other plants. There are many possibilities when it comes to medicinal herb gardening. Once you start growing and making your own herbal preparations, your confidence will grow both in the garden and kitchen. It’s a win-win! Once you have started seeds successfully, you can try growing medicinal herbs from cuttings, root divisions, layering, etc. There is a whole world of options for you to try. Just as with your kitchen garden, decide what you use the most with herbs and what herbal preparations you’d like to create and build your herb garden off of those things. Grow what you love.