Have you thought about growing a garden this spring? Now is a great time to start preparing!
Whether you're a complete beginner, or a master in aromatic medicine making, there is something special about picking fresh herbs from your garden for plant preparations. When you have the opportunity to connect with a plant through its entire life cycle, from seed to maturity, a divine relationship naturally forms.
If you are making your own plant medicines, growing your herbal ingredients at home can add an entirely new level of potency and pride to your art form. When growing aromatic plants, the process can be as simple or as complex as you would like it to be. You could grow them in a tiny pot in your windowsill, or carve out an entire section of your yard, and you can plant your own seeds, or buy plant starts from a nursery, ready to put in the ground.
Having your own medicinal garden is a way to ensure the quality of the plants you use, and also takes pressure off of wild plant populations. Using plants that are growing a few steps away from your door is the most sustainable way to make medicines. One of the beautiful things about aromatic plants is that many of them will grow abundantly with little maintenance required. Below is a list of 13 aromatic plants that are easy to care for that you can try planting this spring.
The vibrant taste and scent of Rosemary can brighten your day! Rosemary is a perennial evergreen shrub with blue to purple flowers that bloom in spring. Perennial plants can continue to grow and thrive for several years with very little maintenance in the right conditions. Rosemary prefers well-drained soil and lots of sun. It can easily be grown in a pot or outside in the yard. This plant can grow into a fairly large shrub, reaching up to 5 feet tall and 4-5 feet wide when in the ground, so be sure to give it enough space if you plant it in your yard. When planting multiple plants, space them about 3 or 4 feet apart. If you don’t want it to grow that big, you can plant it in a small or medium-sized container pot.
Rosemary has an affinity for the brain and heart, and can be utilized in a variety of ways, such as in cooking, tea, or as an essential oil. The volatile oils of Rosemary are pungent, bitter, and stimulating, and can increase circulation .
Sage is a diverse herb that is wonderful to have around. You can grow this plant in a small pot in your windowsill or out in your yard. It prefers to grow in full sun, in well-drained soil, and is hardy in zones 4 to 8. (New to zones? Check out the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map). Sage grows well next to Rosemary, so you could plant them near one another, however, be sure to give a few feet of space between them.
There are many different species of Sage you can plant: Common Sage, also known as Garden Sage (Salvia officinalis), is popularly used for cooking and medicine, as well as Clary Sage, varieties of White Sage, Spanish Sage (Salvia lavandulaefolia) and Salvia plebeia. Sage is perennial and loves to grow in hot, sunny conditions. It is important to note that White Sage is over-harvested in the wild and currently on the endangered species list, so growing it ourself is the most sustainable and ethical way to use this plant.
Sage works on the respiratory, digestive, nervous and circulatory systems and is indicated for colds and flus, sore throat, hair loss, nervous dysfunction, swollen lymph glands, excess sweating and a nervous heart . Sage can be used in incense, added to cooking, drank as tea, or made into a powerful essential oil.
With actions on the nervous system and brain, the smell of Sage is fantastic for promoting mental and emotional clarity, as well as calming the heart.
The main types of Lavender that are commonly grown include English Lavender, French Lavender, Lavandin, Portuguese Lavender and Spanish Lavender. In general, the plants grow well in zones 5 to 9. Like many of the plants listed, Lavender is a perennial that likes full sun and well-drained soil. It is a drought-tolerant plant, so be careful not to overwater it – once every 1-2 weeks is enough.
The fragrant smell of Lavender makes it a wonderful addition to your garden. Lavender can be used in incense, added to baking, cosmetic products, used as essential oil and is wonderful in tea. Ayurveda considers Lavender to be helpful in regulating the heartbeat, lowering blood pressure, soothing muscular and joint tension and reducing inflammation on skin. Lavender can be helpful in relieving restlessness and anxiety, depression, insomnia, hormonal imbalances, stress, headaches and migraines.
Lemon Balm is a perennial herb and is part of the Mint family. The leaves of this plant can range in color from dark green to yellow and have a lemony, mint-like aroma. Lemon Balm isn’t particular about what soil it grows in, and will flourish in full sun or part-shade. It grows hardy in zones 4 through 9.
Ayurveda considers citrus aromas to be helpful in relieving a sense of dullness and sharpening our ability to focus, which is reflected in the Lemony aroma of this plant. The leaves can be used for tea to help aid digestion, regulate appetite, reduce PMS and menopause symptoms, regulate menstruation, as well as balance the mind and emotions. Lemon Balm essential oil is said to have a soothing effect and can help with depression, insomnia and anxiety. If diluted in a carrier oil, Lemon Balm can also be used topically to aid muscle and joint pain.
Thyme is a fragrant perennial herb that grows easily in most climates. It also prefers well-drained soil, watering once every 1-2 weeks, and lots of sunshine. Seeds can be put directly into soil in late spring, or can be started indoors earlier.
For cooking and medicinal use, the two most common species of Thyme used are Common Garden Thyme (Thymus vulgaris) and Lemon Thyme (T. Citriodorus). Aside from being a flavorful addition to food or tea, Thyme can be helpful in fighting infection and relieving cold and flu symptoms such as a cough or sore throat . It is also noted to be supportive of the glandular system, particularly the thymus gland .
Calendula is a great non-aromatic herb to have around for treating issues related to the skin, particularly soothing cuts, scrapes and wounds. It has anti-fungal and antibacterial qualities which can help to prevent infection. Calendula is tolerant to ordinary soil and can thrive in either part shade or full sun.
Calendula flowers will add a beautiful pop of color to your outdoor space. It attracts insects, making it a great pollinator plant to include in your garden. Calendula is generally annual, but its seeds are easy to collect so you do not have to keep buying them year after year. If you forget to collect them, you just might find some “volunteers” pop up in your garden next year on their own.
Another great thing about Calendula is that the bright orange flowers make a wonderful dye for food or clothing!
There are two main species of Chamomile that are generally grown for medicine or cosmetic products: Roman or English Chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile) and German Chamomile (Matricaria recutita). Both plants have similar medicinal qualities, however Roman Chamomile is perennial and grows well in zones 4-11, and German Camomile tends to be annual. Chamomile enjoys growing in part-shade, though it can grow in full sun.
Chamomile is popularly used as tea and can be helpful for aiding digestion, as well as calming the mind. It can also relieve headaches and promote menstruation . The sweet smelling flowers of Chamomile make for a wonderful essential oil. Chamomile has an affinity for the plasma, blood, muscles, bone marrow and nerves. The flowers can be made into a poultice and used externally for nerve pain . They can also be used to help with wound and cut healing when made into a salve, paste or ointment.
There is a huge range of different Mint species that you can grow in your garden this year, including Peppermint, Spearmint, Apple Mint, Chocolate Mint, Water Mint, Egyptian Mint and more.
One thing to note about Mint is that it has a tendency to spread, and could take over in the garden. To avoid this, it may be helpful to grow Mints in a container such as a pot or grow box. Mints like rich, well-drained soil and full or partial sun exposure.
The Mint family can be both pungent and cooling in nature, and is often used to help aid stomach upset, indigestion, and sore, inflamed throats. Mint family plants are often used to calm the mind and nervous system, and are helpful in relieving headaches, fevers, and flu symptoms. Ayurveda considers Mint to have ethereal qualities, which allows it to have clarifying and expanding effects, and helps to relieve mental tension .
Oregano is part of the Mint family and is native to the Mediterranean region. It is not only a wonderful plant to include in your cooking, but can also be a powerful ally for the immune system. Oregano is a perennial herb that can be grown in part-shade or full sun and also likes well-drained, fertile soil.
Oregano is a warming carminative herb, meaning it can help to alleviate abdominal pain, gas, indigestion, and bloating. Oregano can also increase absorption when added to food or drank as tea, as well as ease symptoms of colds and congestion.
tulsi (Holy Basil)
Tulsi, also known as Holy Basil (Ocimum sanctum), is a perennial herb native to the Indian subcontinent. It prefers warmth, so seeds can be started indoors in spring and then transferred outside after germination occurs and when the weather warms up. The plant can reach up to about a foot tall and can either be grown in a pot or planted in the earth. Tulsi enjoys fertile soil with good drainage and full sunlight. It thrives best in up to zone 10, but can be grown indoors year-round if there is enough sunlight.
Ayurveda considers Tulsi to be a rasayana, meaning it is rejuvenative to the body, and supports vitality by bringing longevity and renewal to the cells . Drinking Tulsi tea daily can be a great way to support digestion and balance the mind and emotions. Additionally, Tulsi essential oil can be used to clear and invigorate the mind!
Mugwort spreads easily, so grow this plant either in a pot or a space in your garden where it can expand. Similarly to the other plants listed, Mugwort likes full sun and well-drained soil. Mugwort is easy to grow from seed, and can be started in a little pot by your windowsill, or be planted directly outside.
Mugwort has an affinity for the female reproductive system, as well as the nervous, digestive and circulatory systems . This powerful herb can be helpful in relieving menstrual cramps, because it warms and relaxes the lower abdomen. It also can regulate menstrual cycles, relieve headaches, relieve overall bodily aches and pains through its action on the nervous system, and help to cleanse the blood . Mugwort can also be used as a wash for fungal infections. It should not be used during pregnancy.
There is an extensive variety of different species of Rose that you could grow this year. However, Rosa damascena and Rosa centifolia are commonly used for making essential oils and teas. Roses are a perennial plant and like at least 6 hours of sunshine per day, along with well-drained soil. They can be planted in spring or early fall, giving the roots time to be established before winter. Be sure to leave room for your Rose bush to flourish, as it can grow fairly large.
Rose flowers can be enjoyed in multiple ways. The sweet, floral flowers can be made into essential oil, oil infusions, syrup, tea, incense, or simply added to your bath. Rose has a way of connecting us to our heart space, and bringing a sense of love and relaxation. Rose petals have a cooling effect, and are said to have an affinity for the skin, so they can be helpful in relieving rashes or other irritations.
After Roses are pollinated in the summer, Rose hips will begin to form. These make for a delicious tea, and have a high content of vitamin C, which can support your immune system. Rose hips can be harvested in the fall.
Marjoram is a perennial herb and grows well in sunny places such as zones 9 and above. In more northern areas, the plant may be annual unless it is growing indoors and receives enough sunlight year-round. Marjoram makes a good companion plant with Oregano or Thyme.
Marjoram has an affinity for the nervous system, and when used as an incense, essential oil or tea, it can help to relax the body and calm the mind. Marjoram can also be used to soothe colds, cough and congestion. It is considered a pungent nervine, so it can also stimulate the circulatory system and help relieve bodily aches and pains .
Growing aromatic herbs at home can be a wonderful way to connect deeper with the spirit and medicinal capacity within plants. If you decide to grow your own luscious aromatherapy garden this year, you can get pre-potted plants at your local nursery, or you can plant seeds in small pots either outside or in your windowsill.
Trying your hand at gardening this spring is a wonderful way to move with the flow of nature, and help new life take form!
- Lad, V. (1998). The Complete Book of Ayurvedic Home Remedies.
- Gladstar, R. (2012). Rosemary Gladstar’s Medicinal Herbs: A Beginner’s Guide.
© 2022 The Northwest School of Aromatic Medicine. All rights reserved.
*The statements above have not been evaluated by the FDA, and are for educational purposes only. This article is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. This article should not be taken as medical advice. Please consult your physician before you use this information for health purposes.