As spring approaches after a long winter, the excitement for gardening begins to stir. The transition from winter into warmer days sparks our creativity about how we want our summer gardens to look.
Know Your Plant Hardiness Zone
As beautiful as the winters are here in Colorado (where we're headquartered), I always look forward to the flowers returning, planting seeds, and thoughts of harvesting. But growing season can be tricky in Colorado; given the late freezes, temperature swings, and little moisture, not every plant will thrive. Make sure to check your zone before planting seeds, as both the time and type of plantings differs in each region.
Luckily, there are several medicinal plants that will flourish in any zone. Let's explore three herbs that will provide a bountiful harvest in your summer tea garden.
Chamomile (Matricaria recutita)
Matricaria recutita, more commonly known as Chamomile, is a hardy member of the Daisy family. Characterized by its petite white petals, yellow center, and feathery leaves, Chamomile stands at heights of one to two feet tall. A lovely addition to any garden, Chamomile's fragrance alone makes it worth growing. Grown easily in pots, between rocks, or in garden beds, Chamomile is able to thrive in multiple environments, including poor-quality soil and very dry conditions. The roots are not deeply penetrating; rather, they skim along the surface of the soil, making water collection easier during times of drought. Not a fan of frost or cold weather during germination, Chamomile requires soil temperatures of at least 50 degrees to sprout.
Chamomile is known as the "Compassionate Lady of the Composites," providing many medicinal benefits that are gentle yet effective. Chamomile has the ability to calm and harmonize many different body systems, including the digestive tract, the nervous system, and the mind. During times of emotional distress, Chamomile's gentle ability to relieve restlessness has been traditionally sought after since the medieval times. A fresh infusion of Chamomile flowers can support healthy lung function and relieve congestion in the lower respiratory tract. Typically taken as a tea, or water infusion, it's no surprise more than one million cups of Chamomile tea are consumed every day! This herb's ability to target different systems is quite remarkable, making it a versatile homegrown medicinal to keep on hand.
Holy Basil (Ocimum tenuiflorum)
Ocimum tenuiflorum, or Holy Basil, is a member of the Mint, or Lamiaceae family. With an alluring aroma, beautiful purple flowers, and bright green leaves, Holy Basil adds an element of peace to any garden. The herbaceous shrub grows to heights of two feet tall and enjoys the sunniest part of your garden. With minimal fuss, Holy Basil sprouts easily from seed and likes well-draining soil. One should avoid planting Holy Basil anywhere water may pool after summer rainstorms. Like many herbs in the Mint family, Holy Basil grows quickly, is not picky, and will provide many medicinal leaves to choose from. In Colorado, Holy Basil will grow as an annual, but in warmer climates, Holy Basil acts as a perennial with the ability to grow back year after year. This plant's adaptability in the garden comes as no surprise, especially when compared to its versatility as a medicinal plant.
Native to India and widely used in Ayurvedic practices, Holy Basil is referred to as the "Queen of Herbs." Sought after for its adaptogenic properties, Holy Basil supports the body in navigating stress and maintaining homeostasis. Perhaps the most magical part of this plant is the spiritual presence it holds within the Hindu community, where a home is not complete unless a Holy Basil plant is present. The innate wisdom passed down through Ayurvedic beliefs is proven to be true by current trials and studies. Reducing cortisol levels, supporting blood glucose levels, and improving metabolic function are among many of Holy Basil's benefits that have been backed by modern science. The matching of innate wisdom and the scientific method are very powerful, proving the medicinal benefits of this plant to be true. The admiration of Holy Basil for both spiritual and medicinal reasons makes it a great addition to any garden.
Motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca)
Another member of the Mint family, Leonurus cardiaca is also known as Motherwort. Like most members of the Mint family, Motherwort isn't very picky about growing conditions. Drought tolerant and able to flourish in sun or shade, Motherwort can grow just about anywhere. Similar to Holy Basil, one of few things Motherwort asks for is well draining soil. This herbaceous perennial grows to heights of five feet tall and will spread rapidly if not contained in a pot or raised garden bed. Characterized by square stems, opposite leaves, and lilac-colored flowers, this herb is often referred to as "Lion Heart." This quickly maturing, slightly weedy plant will produce in your garden for years to come.
Given the Latin name, it comes as no surprise that Motherwort has an affinity for the heart system. Leonurus can be calming during periods of restlessness and is typically taken as a heart tonic. One of my favorite aspects of Motherwort is the emotional offering it provides to a broken heart, providing support and grounding in times of need. Historically used as a reproductive herb, there is an emotional connection between the uterus and the heart, and Motherwort bridges the gap between the two. Motherwort shows its affection towards our reproductive tract by supporting a healthy menstruation cycle and potentially relieving symptoms of PMS. Since reproductive health is such an important part of life, Motherwort is beneficial to any garden.
Questions to Ask for My Zone
What herbs grow well in your climate or zone? What medicinal plants speak to you? These are important questions to ask yourself when planning for your summer tea garden. Will you grow in raised beds or sow into the ground? Growing medicinal herbs can be intimidating at times, but it doesn't have to be!
Chamomile, Holy Basil, and Motherwort are three herbs that are simple to grow — even for the novice gardener. There's something very special about planting and tending to your own medicinal plants. Gardening is a wonderful way to bring us closer to nature, connect with plants, and learn more about their medicinal properties.
- Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla L.): An overview
- Tulsi - Ocimum sanctum: A herb for all reasons
- Leonurus cardiaca L. as a Source of Bioactive Compounds: An Update of the European Medicines Agency Assessment Report (2010)
Brittney Offenburg (she/her) believes in empowerment through education. She attended the Colorado School of Clinical Herbalism where she studied medical herbalism and is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Nutrition and Integrative Healthcare from Metropolitan State University of Denver. Brittney is a customer journey representative at WishGarden Herbs
For educational purposes only. This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease, or sell any product.