Medicinal herbs at your front door! Learn how to plant a medicinal herb garden.
Growing medicinal herbs is perfect if you like making your own homemade salves, teas, body care products, tinctures and other medicine.
Many of the medicinal herbs are incredibly easy to grow whether you’re a beginner or advanced gardener or herbalist.
It was my love of Calendula salve that made me want to grow medicinal herbs many years ago.
I read it was an easy herb to start with and I didn’t want to keep buying dried calendula flowers. This got me hooked on growing medicinal herbs and over the years I’ve added more and more
–> Learn how to harvest and dry calendula flowers and make calendula oil here.
Back then we had a built a herb spiral (see the step-by-step instructions of the herb spiral project here) and many of the herbs that we planted were for medicinal purposes. Below is the diagram of the herbs we planted.
Our first medicinal herb garden we made the mistake of underestimating how large the plants would get later on.
The herb spiral started out as a beautiful garden feature but it quickly became a chaos of herbs spreading and self-sowing.
How to Plant a Medicinal Herb Garden
It’s important to think long term when figuring out what medicinal herbs to grow and where to plant them. Although the plants start out small many are either perennials or self sow easily and can take over an area or grow quite larger in a matter of years. Certain woody herbs can get pruned back if they become too large, others can be rooted up and divided. Certain herbs like those in the mint family are better grown in pots. Also keep in mind that for many medicinal herbs you might need a larger growing area, depending on what you’re using them for.
I was surprised at how much herbs like chamomile shrunk down when dried and how much I needed for one cup of tea!
You can grow your medicinal herbs from seed or buy seedlings from your local nursery.
Although I grow a lot of medicinal herbs from seed, especially the hard to find ones, there are many that are better purchased already grown. In some cases it’s better to buy 1-2 oregano plants for example, than a pack of 1000 seeds that you won’t need. Many herbs also take many months to grow from seed before they are large enough to transplant, so that adds another perk to buying them.
You can also propagate many herbs from cuttings, so ask friends or family for certain cuttings to reduce the cost of planting your medicinal herb garden.
It’s easy to make the newbie mistake of growing invasive mints in the open ready to take over everything.
Mint can quickly spread and become quite invasive so it’s great better to grow mint to a confined area. Grow Forage Cook Ferment has a post on growing mint without fear.
Lemon balm can also spread rapidly as it self-sows easily.
One of my favorite things about growing medicinal herbs is that many of them are a beautiful addition to the garden with blooming fragrant flowers that attract bees and other pollinators.
Sage flowers look like closed roses.
Medicinal herbs in your garden provide flowers for the bees and offer blooming times throughout whole season.
Agastache in Bloom
Oregano flowering late in the season
Calendula flowers keep blooming even after fall frosts helping the bees before winter.
Chives (more of a culinary herb) are perfect for early spring flowers & nectar
Some medicinal herbs you shouldn’t harvest until the 3rd year.
Echinacea, and other perennial medicinal herbs that you harvest the roots of, need to establish a strong root system so they keep providing for years to come.
Because the herb spiral turned out to be in too limited in growing space for our medicinal herbs, next time I’m planning on giving them a larger area. I have the following medicinal herbs that I’m planning on growing next spring. This winter I shall be figuring out exactly where to grow each one so that they can become useful for herbal body and healing products for years to come.
Certain herbs you might be able to forage for instead of planting in your garden.
I prefer to wildcraft plantain, dandelion, chicory, mullein, comfrey, red clover, chickweed, wild rose, elderberries and elderflowers as they grow here in abundance. Other herbs which I list below, are perfect for the home medicinal herb garden.
Medicinal Herbs to Plant in your Herb Garden
When growing medicinal herbs, make a list of what home, body or healing products you’d like to make with your herbs. Find out if that herb grows in your area and then create your own list of medicinal herbs to plant. Some will be readily available in seed catalogs, especially ones that are both culinary and medicinal like oregano, sage, thyme etc. Others are harder to find. Here in Canada I purchased many from Salt Spring Seeds.
Here are the medicinal herbs that I’m planting in our herb garden:
- Lemon Balm
- Spearmint (in pots)
- Other mints (in pots)
- Arnica (make this salve from Nitty Gritty Life)
- Evening Primrose
- Pleurisy Root
- St. Johns Wort
More medicinal herbs to plant
I love the following blogs and they have some great posts on growing and planting a medicinal herb garden, many also offering recipes for using medicinal herbs.
Joybilee farm has a couple of great posts on planting medicinal herbs too: 10 hardy medicinal herbs for your homestead and 70 medicinal herbs to sneak into your garden. Homespun seasonal living has 10 plants for the home medicinal garden. Attainable sustainable has herbs to grow for culinary and medicinal use. Homestead lady has a post on how to plan and plant a medicinal herb garden. The fewell homestead starting a medicinal herb garden.