Benific Herbs

Find here tips for sowing and growing the “benific herbs” that came with your seed box:

Agrimony (Agrimonia eupatoria): Cold germinator. Prime seeds in fresh tepid water and cold-stratify in the fridge. Or sow outdoors, directly into the flower bed or in containers. Sowing time: March / early spring or October / middle of autumn. Sow seeds 2-3 cm deep and cover with soil. Keep moist but not soppy. Germination time: ca. 3 weeks. Plant 40 cm apart, in full sun or half shade. Soil: normal or sandy, calcareous. Fertilize with compost soil. Requires little nutrients. Typical wildlife garden plant.

Fragrant Agrimony (Agrimonia procera): Cold germinator, self seeding. Sow directly or in containers, from October to December. Cover about 1-2 cm thick with soil. Germinates irregularly, and requires a cold period for germination. Hardy, perennial, up to 150 cm tall, with yellow flowers from June to August. Plan for 6 plants per m2 or plant one every 40 cm. Similar to agrimony, fragrant agrimony thrives in shady places, on well-drained, nutritious, humus rich soil. It is considered a synantrope, growing foremost on (former) farmland and along forest edges and roadsides. The ripe fruits posses curved hairs, which stick to animals’ fur, birds’ feathers and people’s clothes, helping it to spread. The leaves are aromatic when crushed. The herb is thought to act anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and diuretic. It is drunk as a tea to stimulate appetite, soothe the throat and ease bronchitis symptoms. A poultice from fragrant agrimony is applied externally against skin inflammations.

Angelica (Angelica archangelica): Cold germinator. Prime seeds in fresh tepid water and keep at 18-22°C for 2-4 weeks. Then cold-stratify in the fridge at -4°C to +4°C for 4-8 weeks. Take out of the fridge and keep seeds at 5-12°C until they germinate and continue to cultivate outdoors or inside of an unheated greenhouse. Or sow outdoors, directly in the flower bed or in containers. Sowing time: January – March. Cool temperatures, snow blanket and snow melt help break seed dormancy. Sow seeds 1-2 cm deep and cover with soil. Keep moist but not soppy. Germination time: ? Plant 50 cm apart, in half shade. Soil: moist, nutrient-rich. Grows between 1 to 2 m tall and requires space. Typical wildlife garden plant, often found alongside ponds and rivers. Biennial. Hardy.

Anise (Pimpinella anisum): Sowing time: end of April – beginning of June. Sow directly into the bed, but make sure the seeds are not exposed to frost. Or pre-culture indoors in containers during early spring, using a mineral-rich substrate (zeolite or pumice based), which has been mixed with compost soil. Sow seeds 1 cm deep and cover with soil. Keep moist but not soppy. Germination time: ca. 4 weeks. Plant 30 cm apart, in full sun. Soil: loose, nutrient-rich, mildly calciferous. Loamy garden soil should be blended with sand before planting. Poor sandy soil should in turn be mixed with some compost soil and bentonite. Doesn’t tolerate water-logging! Develops up to 50 cm long roots. If planted in containers make sure the pots are tall enough. Typical herb garden plant. Annual.

Mountain Arnica (Arnica montana):

Basil (Ocimum basilicum): The seeds need light to germinate. Sow flat and only press on gently, do not cover with soil! Put a glass over the seeds or wrap a transparent foil over the sowing pot. Sow indoors all year round or outdoors in a cold-frame starting in April. The seeds germinate within 2 weeks, at temperatures between 15-20°C. Basil prefers a moist, nutritious, humic and well drained substrate and likes a well lit spot, but also grows in half shade. Basil contains a number of different essential oils in different proportions for various cultivars: some have a typical basil flavor (‘Genoveser’), others come with a lemony (‘Lemonette’) or vanilla-flavor (‘Blue spice’). The ‘Minette’ variant has small leaves and thin branches and is suited as a pot plant, since all parts are edible, whereas the stems of other large-leafed basil variants may turn woody.
Usually annual, between 15-30 cm tall. Originally native to tropical regions in Africa and South-Asia, cultivated worldwide as a culinary herb. Another basil species is the holy basil aka tulsi.

Black Caraway (Nigella sativa): Sow in April, directly to the ground. Sow flat and do not cover. The seeds germinate quickly at mild temperatures. Prick out seedlings, leaving about 20 cm space between single plants. Annual, up to 25 cm tall, with pale blue-white flowers. Thrives in full sun and likes a normal to dry, well drained soil. Does not tolerate water logging and will not thrive in competition with other herbs. A popular spice and healing herb in the middle east. According to an Arab proverb black cumin is capable of healing anything but death. The seeds taste a bit bitter and are added to pastries. Also known as blackseed and black caraway (though not related to the real caraway). Not to be confused with love-in-a-mist (Nigella damascena).

Borage (Borago officinalis): Sow ca. 2 cm deep and cover with soil. Will germinate quickly within 2 weeks at about 20 °C. Borage likes a fresh, sandy, well drained, mildly calciferous soil and thrives in sun or half shade. Borage has an aroma similar to cucumber. It will get 60 cm tall and should be planted 30 cm apart. The dried leaves loose their aroma. Only the fresh young leaves are used. Sow new every couple of weeks until July if you need a continuous supply. The essential oil is used internally and externally to treat neurodermitis. Borage doesn’t like fertilizer. Add only some compost soil in spring. Plant in the company of strawberry, cumcumber, zucchini, dill, tomatos and sunflower. Do not plant together with parsley or rucola.

Caraway (Carum carvi): Light germinator. Pre-culture indoors in containers during early spring. Or sow outdoors, directly into the bed. Sowing time: spring or autumn. Sow seeds 1-2 cm deep and cover loosely with soil. Keep moist but not soppy. Seeds germinate at 5-15°C. Germination time: ca. 3 weeks. Plant 30 cm apart, in full sun. Soil: moist, nutrient-rich, loamy, pH neutral. Neutralize sour soils by adding lime. Blend poor sandy soils with loam or betonite and compost soil before planting. Water frequently but avoid water-logging. Fertilize with compost soil. Requires little nutrients. Grows between 40 to 70 cm or up to 1 m tall. Typical wildlife and herb garden plant. Biennial. Hardy. Known pests: mildew, dingy flat-body moth

Carnation, Clove Pink (Dianthus caryophyllus): Sowing time: spring. Sow outdoors, directly into the bed or pre-culture in containers, starting in late winter or early spring. Seeds germinate at 20°C. Germination time: 1-2 weeks. Plant 25 cm apart, in full sun. Soil: fresh, loose, nutrient-and humus-rich. Avoid water-logging! Grows about 60 cm tall. Flower colors vary from white, to pink, red and purple. There are also variants with yellow, orange and green flowers. Typical cottage garden plant. Biennial to perennial. Hardy. Easily sows out itself. >> Fragrant flower, cherished already by Egyptian perfumers. The flowers may be candied or added to tea. The flower petals were used to spice brews and punches consumed during coronation ceremonies (which gives a possible origin for the English name). Meanwhile the scientific species name dianthus means “flower of god”.

Catnip (Nepeta cataria): Light germinator. Sow seeds flat on soil and press on but do not cover. Sow outdoors, directly in the bed. Sowing time: April – June. Or pre-culture indoors from March to May. Seeds may or may not require a cold period. Germination time: ca. 3 weeks. Plant in full sun, ca. 50 cm apart. Soil: normal or dry, loose, sandy and loamy, moderately nutrient- and nitrogen-rich. May grow up to 1 m tall. Rejuvenate by taking cuttings every 3-4 years. Honey plant and healing herb, typically found in cottage, herb and physic gardens. Perennial. Hardy. Favors warm climates.

Centaury (Centaurium erythraea): very fine seeds – the seeds count, along with orchid seeds, among the smallest in the plant kingdom! Sow outdoors in April or May, or in late summer. Scatter the seeds carefully on the soil in the sowing pot or sow directly at the spot where you wish to grow centaury. Do not cover with soil. Keep evenly moist. They will germinate quickly, usually within 2-3 weeks upon sowing. Centaury is an endangered plant species in the gentian family. It is annual to biennial, gets 10-15 cm tall, with plenty of deep pink to lilac flowers. It likes a calciferous, loam-rich, warm, wet-dry ground and thrives in full sun. In the wild it grows typically on forest meadows, glades and semi-dry meadows. It spreads through self-seeding, so leave the fading flower heads if you wish to have centaury in your garden permanently. Centaury is an old healing herb with a plethora of benific attributes. It acts digestive and helps against heartburn. According to a legend a merchant suffering from heartburn once offered to pay 1000 guilders to whoever would procure him the tea made from this herb. According to Pliny the plant received its name from Chiron the centaur, who cured his wounds with the herb.

Chamomile (Matricaria recutita): Light germinator. Broadcast the fine seeds and do not cover. Sow outdoors from March to June, directly into the bed, which has been finely raked beforehand. Plant in full sun and 20 cm apart. Soil: normal, poor, sandy, loamy. No fertilizer required. Too many nutrients promote leaf growth and the plants develop less flowers. Grows about 60 cm tall. Important medicinal plant, belongs in any herb and physic garden. Annual. The strain ‘Bodegold’ contains a higher amount of essential oil.

Chervil (Anthriscus cerefolium): Sow outdoors or in containers from April to July. Sow flat, press on gently but not cover with soil. Seeds will germinate quickly at temperatures around 20 °C. The soil should be loose, fresh and normal to acidic. The leaves loose their aroma fast and should be harvested before flowering. Else the flowers and stems are used. Sow every two weeks to provide continuous supply all year. Chervil is an annual, but will tolerate frost even if grown in a pot. It can be kept on the kitchen’s window bench, in half shade.

Clary Sage (Salvia sclarea): Preculture indoors from March to May or sow outdoors from April to June. Sow flat, press on soil and do not cover. The seeds germinate within 1-2 weeks, at temperatures around 20°C. Plant 60 cm apart. Biennial, aromatic herb, up to 150 cm tall, with showy foliage and light purple to pink flowers. Thrives in full sun and favors a dry to normal, mildly calciferous and well drained soil. Hardy from zone 4 to 8. The flowers and leaves are used in cooking, e.g. to flavor omelets and stews. Vine has been adulterated with clary sage. The essential oil is used in aroma therapy. In magic it is thought to aid clairvoyance.

Comfrey (Symphytum officinale): Preculture from March to April or sow outdoors in autumn or early spring. The seeds may require a cold period to germinate. Sow 0,5 cm deep. Germination should occur within 3-4 weeks. If the seeds do not germinate, store them in the fridge for 2-4 weeks and try again. Perennial, up to 1 m tall, with light purple flowers. Hardy in zones 4-8. Thrives in sun or half shade and prefers a moist, nutritious and humus rich soil. The plant takes up space. Plant solitary, a spot beside the compost is perfect. Healing herb with positive effects on wound healing and any ailments pertaining to the bones. Contains Pyrrolizidin (an alkaloid) and should not be taken internally.

Costmary (Tanacetum balsamita): The seeds need light to germinate. Sow flat and only press on gently, do not cover with soil! Put a glass over the seeds or wrap a transparent foil over the sowing pot. Perennial, aromatic herb in the aster family, which forms between 40 – 150 cm tall tussocks. Panicles of small yellow aromatic flowers appear in late summer (consider this makes it an interesting choice for a bee friendly garden!). The plant is rich in ethereal oils including camphor and thujone. It has a minty lemony aroma and tastes slightly bitter (as such it may aid digestion). Add to food in small amounts (try first, the bitterness increases while cooking). The English name ‘costmary’ stems from ‘costus of Saint Mary’. Also, in other languages, it is associated with the Virgin Mary, most probably because it is sometimes used to treat women’s diseases. Culpeper puts it under the dominion of Jupiter. Also known as Frauenminze and Marienblatt in German.

Coriander (Coriandrum sativum): Light germinator. Sow flat on soil and press on but do not cover. Sow outdoors from April to August, after the last frosts and directly into the bed. Make sure the seeds are not exposed to frost. Or pre-culture all year round. Seeds germinate at ca. 20°C. Germination time: 2-3 weeks. Water frequently but avoid water-logging. Plant in full sun and 20 cm apart. Soil: normal to light, loose, moderately moist. Fertilize with compost soil in spring. Spicy healing herb, up to 70 cm tall, typically found in herb and physic gardens. The strain ‘Jantar’ is fruitful and contains around 2% essential oil.

Cornflower (Centaurea cyanus): This variant of the common cornflower has filled deep blue flowers. The seeds are sown in April and May or in late summer. You can sow them in a pot or scatter at the spot where you wish to grow them, e.g. together with corn poppy, chamomile, evening primrose and musk mallow. Sow the seeds flat, press on and do not cover with soil. Keep evenly moist. They germinate within 2-3 weeks. Cornflower is annual and gets between 30-50 cm tall. It grows in full sun on normal to dry, well-drained soil. The flowers are edible and can be added to salads, desserts and tea. Cornflower acts astringent and anti-inflammatory. It is applied externally to treat smaller lesions and conjunctivitis. A cold compress with cornflower solution is applied to tired eyes and reddened eyelids. It can also be added to baths for calming an easily irritated skin. Cornflower, along with corn poppy and many other wild flowers has been in decline due to the intense use of herbicides.

Corn poppy (Papaver rhoeas): Best sown directly at the spot, where you wish to grow the poppies, e.g. together with other annuals such as corn flower and chamomile. Sow from March to May or in early autumn. Sow flat and do not cover. The seeds germinate quickly, within 1-2 weeks. The corn poppy is an annual herb, which frequents waysides, fields and wastelands. It likes a place in full sun and a normal to dry and nutritious ground. Poppy seed and seed oil are used in cooking. The flower petals are said to have calming effects and are added to tea. Poppy flower tea or syrup are said to help against respiratory ailments, period pains, insomnia, nervousness and ease pain in general and applied externally against skin problems. Its iconic flowers feature in legends and folk tales all over the world and are charged with martial symbolism (the red flowers representing the blood of the war dead covering the fields).

Cowslip (Primula veris): Cold germinator. Sow seeds in August or September, directly into the bed. Or pre-culture in pots in late winter or early spring. The seeds require cold stratification. Cold temps, snow blanket and snow melt help break seed dormancy. For best results use freshly gathered seeds and sow flat. Germination time may vary greatly. Plant in half shade, 20 cm apart. Soil: nutrient-poor, dry to fresh, well-drained, humus-rich. Typical spring flower, healing herb and honey plant, up to 30 cm, found in wildlife gardens, on pastures and mowed meadows. Perennial. Hardy. Easily sows out by itself and “wanders” through the garden. Regionally endangered. >> The leaves can be added to spring salads and the flowers are edible too. Greeks called the herb Dodecatheon, meaning “twelvefold herb of the gods”, and believed it could drive out all sickness. The German name Himmelsschlüssel means “keys of heaven”. The flower is sacred to the goddess Freya.

Dill (Anethum graveolens): Pre-culture from March to April. Or sow directly in the bed, from April to June. Sow seeds flat and cover with soil. Seeds germinate quickly at about 10-20°C. Germination time: 1-2 weeks. Plant in full sun or half shade, ideally protected from wind and 25 cm apart. Soil: normal to fresh, moist, loose, well-drained, humus- and nutrient-rich. Water frequently as dill requires steady humidity, but avoid water-logging! Healing herb, up to 120 cm tall, typically found in herb and physic gardens. Annual. The strain ‘Tetradill’ produces more foliage and stronger stems than other breeds. >> Harvest only the fresh cusps. Follow up sowing until August provides steady supply with fresh dill herb. Known pests: prone to fungi and nematodes that damage the roots. Do not plant near potatoes, chives or onions, which attract nematodes.

Dragonhead (Dracocephalum moldavica): Light germinator. Sow seeds flat on soil, press on and do not cover! Pre-culture indoors from March to May. Or sow outdoors after the last frosts. Make sure seeds are not exposed to frost. Seeds germinate at 15-20°C. Germination time: 1-2 weeks. Plant in full sun and 20 cm apart. Soil: dry to normal. 40-70 cm tall. Aromatic herb and honey plant. The dried leaves keep their distinctive lemony taste and scent for a long time. The strain “Arat” contains up to 0,5 % essential oil and produces plenty of foliage. Annual. Short-lived, yields two crops per year.

Elecampagne (Inula helenium): Sow from April to June, flat on soil and do not cover. The seeds germinate within 2-3 weeks at around 20°C. Elecampagne thrives in full sun to half shade. The soil should be rich in nutrients and humus and well drained. Requires space in the garden, as it can get up to 2 m tall with bright yellow flowers. Plant at least 40 cm apart. Starts flowering in the 3rd year. An important healing herb, it was considered a “cure-all”. The root would be candied and eaten as a treat. The root smells almost like sweet violet and preserves the scent of other herbs.

Enchanter’s Nightshade (Circaea lutetiana): Sow outdoors from April to June. Sow flat on soil and do not cover. Plant 30 cm apart. Inconspicuous perennial herb, up to 60 cm tall, with tender white-pink flowers, which frequents woodlands. Hardy in zones 4-9. Thrives in half or full shade, on moist, clayey, nitrogenous soil. The fruit is a small burr containing 2 seeds and is spread by animals. Old healing herb, which is attributed astringent, haemostatic and diuretic properties.  Despite the name this herb does not belong to the ‘nightshade’ family and it is not poisonous.

Evening Primrose (Oenothera biennis): Sow flat, directly in the bed. Germination time: ca. 3 weeks. Plant in full sun and 30 cm apart. Soil: loose and well-drained, from dry to normal to moist. Reaches 40-70 cm, but can also get up to 120 cm tall. Hardy, biennial. Healing plant, found in wildlife and cottage gardens. Easily sows out itself and spreads readily. The lush, yellow, fragrant flowers open at dusk and attract moths.

Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare): Pre-culture from March to May. Or sow directly in the bed, from May to August. Sow 1-2 cm deep and cover loosely. Seeds germinate at ca. 20°C. Germination time: 1-2 weeks. Plant in full sun and 40 cm apart. Soil: moderately dry to fresh, well-drained, humus- and nutrient-rich. Aromatic healing herb, planted in herb and physic gardens. Hardy, biennial to perennial. May require winter protection. The ornamental plants may reach impressive 3 m in height and die off in autumn but come back the next year. >> Fennel seeds boiled and drunk as tea, e.g. to aid digestion and calm the stomach. In TCM fennel is known as hui xiang.

Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium): Preculture indoors from March to May or sow outdoors in May. Sow flat, press on gently and do not cover! The seeds germinate within 2-3 weeks. Plant 30 cm apart. Perennial, up to 90 cm tall, with white flowers. Hardy in zones 5-8. Thrives in full sun to half shade, on normal, nutritious, well drained soil. Cut back in autumn. An easy-care herb, plant in groups for a showy white sea of flowers all summer long. Cut flowers last for 10 days or longer. A healing herb especially for women, it acts anodyne, antipyretic, anticonvulsant and stimulant on the uterus. n German it is hence called “Mutterkraut”. It also counteracts migraine.

Hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis): Light germinator. Sow flat on soil, press on and do not cover. Pre-culture from middle of March until end of May. Or sow directly into the bed from May to June, after the last frosts. Make sure seeds are protected from frost. Germination time: 1-2 weeks. Plant in full sun and 40 cm apart. Soil: moderately dry to fresh, limey, well-drained, nutrient-poor. Hardy, perennial sub-shrub, with deep blue flowers, up to 60 cm tall. Aromatic honey plant and medicinal herb, also used in cooking. Planted in Mediterranean herb and perennial gardens. >> Bushy growth; prune into a low hedge or other shapes. Blue, white and pink flowering variants make nice companions for roses.

Lavender (Lavendula angustifolia): Cold germinator. Sow seeds flat on soil, press on and cover barely. Best sown in pre-culture from March to May, in containers. Generally it is not recommended to sow lavender outdoors. If, make sure seeds don’t catch frost. The seeds may require a cold period to break dormancy. Germination time: 3-4 weeks or longer. Plant in full sun and ca. 40 cm apart. Hardy, perennial, up to 50 cm tall, bushy growth with stems turning woody. Planted in healing, perennial and Mediterranean herb gardens. May need winter protection. >> Prune 1/3 in early spring, or short above stem. If flower-stalks are cut during or short after flowering, the shrub may flower a second time. Fragrant blue and white flowering lavender are nice rose companions and are beloved by bees and bumblebees as well as butterflies. The flower buds are used in cooking, potpourris and the essential oil has a wide range of medicinal applications. L. angustifolia contains about 160 known medicinally active ingredients.

Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis): Light germinator. Sow flat on soil and do not cover. Pre-culture from middle of March to May or sow directly in the bed from May to June. Seeds germinate within 2-3 weeks. Plant in full sun or half shade, about 50-60 cm apart. Soil: normal, well-drained, humus-rich. Fertilize in spring and autumn, with compost soil. Classic aromatic healing herb with a strong lemony taste and scent. Besides containing various essential oils and medicinal ingredients lemon balm is also rich in Vitamin C. Hardy, perennial, herbaceous plant, grows about 40-70 cm tall, but also get up to 120 cm high. Established plants easily sow out themselves. In Germany also known as “Bienenkraut”, literally meaning “bee herb” since it is beloved by bees. >> Harvest leaves short before flowering. A single plant may yield up to three harvests a year and quickly grows back. Known pests: mildew

Lovage (Levisticum officinale): Sow ca. 1 cm deep and cover loosely with soil. Keep moist but not soppy. Pre-culture from March to May. Or sow directly in the bed, from April to June. Germination time: 2-3 weeks. Plant in full sun or half shade, at least 50 cm apart. Soil: moist, nutrient-rich, loamy, calciferous, pH slightly alkaline. Water frequently. Fertilize in spring and autumn, with compost soil. Survives drought, but doesn’t tolerate water-logging. Remove any competing weeds and it will grow to prominent size, up to 2 m or taller. One or two plants are enough to supply a whole family for the entire year. Hardy, perennial, typical herb garden plant. May need some winter protection if temps go below -15°C. >> Harvest young leaves before the plant flowers. Add fresh leaves and rhizomes to soups and stews, as well as fish and meat dishes. The name ‘Maggikraut’ is a reference to the typical celery-like taste, however it is not part of actual Maggi® sauce. It’s other German name ‘Liebstöckel’ comes from its use as aphrodisiac, particularly by males. Known pests: non – use as a natural pest repellent for other plants!

Marigold (Calendula officinalis): Sow from April – August. Sow 0,5 cm deep and cover loosely with soil. The seeds germinate within 2-3 weeks at temperatures around 20°C. Calendula thrives in sun to half shade. The soil should be fresh, humus rich and well drained. Plant 25 cm apart. The annual herb gets 50 cm tall, with bright orange-yellow flowers. Some garden varieties have extra large flowers. The herb has a long duration of flowering. The petals can be added to salads. The seeds are rich in oils. Calendula has a positive effect on the soil and should be planted as a companion in any ornamental or kitchen garden. Also known as pot marigold. Not to be confused with the French or Mexican marigolds in the tagetes family!

Marshmallow (Althaea officinalis): Cold germinator. Pre-culture from March to June. Or sow directly, from April to May or from September to October. Sow 0,5 cm deep and cover loosely. Seeds require low temperatures of ca. +5 °C and may take several weeks to germinate. Keep moist but not soppy. Plant in full sun or half shade, about 60 cm apart. Grows between 70-150 cm or taller. Our marshmallow plants often reach 2 meter! Soil: normal to moist, well-drained. Salt tolerant, hardy, perennial. Belongs into any cottage garden. >> All parts are used medicinally, mostly in cough teas, due to its expectorant and soothing properties. The roots and leaves are also edible. The original marshmallows were in fact roasted marshmallow roots.

Masterwort (Peucedanum ostruthium): Cold germinator. Pre-culture from late winter to early spring. Or sow directly in the bed, from late summer to early autumn. Seeds require cold stratification. Cool temperatures, snow blanket and snow melt help break seed dormancy. May take several weeks or months to germinate. Plant in half shade, about 60 cm apart. Soil: fresh to moist, nutrient-rich, well-drained, calciferous. Hardy perennial, native to the alps, up to 80-150 cm tall and wide. Planted in wildlife and cottage gardens, along ponds and rivers. Spreads through underground rhizomes and seed. >> Aromatic healing herb, which has been attributed powers of “healing all” up to the middle of the 18th century. It was also thought to increase virility. It is still used in cordials and bitters, lending a special flavor and gastric properties.

Moly, Golden Garlic (Allium moly): Cold germinator. Seeds require cold stratification. Cool temperatures, snow blanket and snow melt help break seed dormancy. May take several weeks or months to germinate. Seeds are best sown directly when ripe. Once established easily sows out itself. Plant in full sun or half shade. Soil: fresh, loose, well-drained, normal to sandy. Water frequently, but avoid water-logging. Hardy perennial, native to the Pyrenees. Spring flower, up to 30 cm, planted in rockeries. The flowers occurring from May to June are visited by bees and butterflies. >> The name is a reference to the mythical herb ‘moly’, which was attributed soul-healing powers. The name golden garlic refers to the plant’s distinctive garlic-like scent. All parts, including the bright yellow flowers are edible.

Motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca): Sow outdoors from April to June. Sow flat, press on gently and do not cover! The seeds germinate quickly within 1-2 weeks. Perennial herb, up to 100 cm tall, with pink flowers from June to September. Thrives in full sun to half shade, on well-drained, rich loamy as well as poor, stony soil and tolerates drought, but does not like dampness. Plant 30 cm apart. With its slender, erect growth it does not require much space and is easy care. Another forgotten about healing herb from medieval times, which is currently experiencing a renaissance. It has strengthening and stimulant effects on the heart muscle and uterus.

Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris): Light dependent germinator. Seeds may require cold treatment prior to sowing. Sow directly during fall and wait for the next spring or sow between February and April. Otherwise mix seeds with peat moss and place them in the fridge at 5°C for 2-4 weeks before planting (sterilize the soil beforehand so it does not get moldy). -> germination temperature: ca. 20°C, germination time: 2-4 weeks. Plant in full sun, on rich, normal or sandy soil. In nature Mugwort grows along railways, waysides, on dry meadows and dumps. The bushy perennial spreads through root and seed and can be invasive, s0 cut flower-heads before they develop seed. Harvest short before flowering, when the plant contains the highest amount of aromatics. Note: Mugwort pollen is one of the main sources of hay fever and allergic asthma. Cooking is known to decrease the allergenicity of mugwort.

Mullein (Verbascum densiflorum): Preculture indoors from March to May or sow outdoors from May to June, directly in the bed. Sow flat and do not cover! The seeds germinate quickly within 1-2 weeks. Biennial, with bright yellow flowers in the 2nd year. Single plants get up to 2 m tall. Plant at least 50 cm apart. Thrives in full sun on normal or poor, well drained soil. Tolerates drought. A healing herb and a classic in any cottage garden.

Moth Mullein (Verbascum blattaria):

Purple Mullein (Verbascum phoeniceum):

Musk Mallow (Malva moschata): normal or cold germinator. Sow outdoors from April to June. Sow the seeds ca. 1 cm deep. The seeds may require a cold period prior to germination. Germination may take 2-3 weeks or longer. The plant is a hardy perennial and quickly grows into a small bush. It favors a spot in full sun to half shade, on nutritious, well-drained soil. It can be grown in large containers or in the flower bed, e.g. as part of a traditional cottage garden. Prune to enhance and prolong its flowering period. The flowers come in bright pink hues or plain white and smell vaguely of musk. They are used to decorate meals and together with the young leafs and the green unripe seed capsules can be added to salads. The unripe seed capsules are also pickled like capers. Romans would favor the stewed tender shoots as a delicate vegetable and today they are still part of Arabian chicken soup. Like other members in the mallow family, musk mallow contains mucilages and is attributed with healing properties.

Oregano (Origanum vulgare): Preculture indoors from March to May or sow outdoors from April to June. Sow seeds flat, press on gently and do not cover! The seeds germinate fast within 1-2 weeks at warm temperatures. Plant 30 cm apart. Hardy perennial, up to 40 cm tall, bushy growth, with small pink flowers. Hardy in zones 4-8. Thrives in full sun and favors a nutritious, well drained mildly calciferous soil. Tolerates drought. Old kitchen and healing herb, which attracts different pollinators and should not be missed in any wildlife, cottage or kitchen garden. Different garden varieties may provide a stronger aroma. Also used as a tea herb and in cut flower arrangements. Btw. the name Oregano applies to a certain aroma and could also mean other herbs, which are prominently used for flavoring in Italian cuisine.

Pennyroyal (Mentha pulegium): Preculture indoors from March to May or sow outdoors from April to June. Sow seeds flat, press on gently and do not cover! The seeds germinate within 2-3 weeks. Perennial, aromatic herb, native to the Mediterraneans. Hardy in zones 6-10, up to 40 cm tall. Prolific ground-cover plant, which may require winter protection. Thrives in sun or half shade and in moist areas, e.g. at the border of lakes and along rivers. The soil should be nutritious, humus rich and lime-deficient. Also known as mosquito plant. In the middle ages it was used as a pulicide. Pennyroyal contains only little amounts of menthol, which sets it apart from other mints. Instead it is rich in Pulegone, piperitone and limonene. Pulegone acts abortifacient. The oil is used in homeopathy. The herb should not be drunk as a tea.

Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea): Sow from April to July, flat on soil and do not cover. The seeds germinate within 2-3 weeks. Thrives in full sun to half shade. The soil should be fresh, nutritious, humus rich and well drained. Perennial, hardy in zones 3-8. Up to 1 m tall, with large crimson red flowers. Plant in groups of 3 – 6 and 40 cm apart. Native to Northern America. The fresh plant juice is used as an immunostimulant, e.g. during recurrent infections and colds. Both the flowering aerial parts as well as the root are used.

Pale Purple Coneflower (Echinacea pallida):

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis): Preculture indoors from March to May or sow outdoors from April to June. Sow flat, press on soil, but do not cover. The seeds germinate fast within 1-2 weeks at temperatures around 20°C. Plant 50 cm apart. The soil should be loose and well drained: add perlite or lava to the potting mix. Does not tolerate water logging. Perennial, bushy evergreen, up to 150 cm tall. Hardy from zone 5-9. Provide protection during the winter months or overwinter indoors in a cool and well-lit spot. Water during long drought periods. Culinary herb, used widely in Mediterranean cuisine. Inhaling the oil is said to help concentrate and the herb is thought to have overall positive effects on the nervous system.

Rue (Ruta graveolens): Preculture indoors from April to June or sow outdoors from May to June. Sow ca. 0,5 cm deep and cover loosely. The seeds germinate within 2-3 weeks. Plant single plants 40-60 cm apart as they can grow quite bushy. Perennial, strong aromatic herb, native to the Mediterraneans, with sulfur yellow flowers. Hardy in zones 5-9, up to 70 cm tall. Thrives in full sun, on low-nutrient, well drained soil. It is a traditional kitchen herb, most famously used for flavoring grappa. In magic it is used for protection and cleansing. The Italian cimaruta charm is derived from the shape of rue leaves.

Sage (Salvia officinalis): Preculture indoors from March to May or sow outdoors from April to June. Sow flat, press on soil, but do not cover. The seeds germinate within 2-3 weeks. Perennial, up to 70 cm tall. Hardy in zones 4-10. Thrives in full sun, on normal, well drained, humus rich, limy soil. Bushy growth, plant 40 cm apart. An ancient healing herb and condiment. It acts haemostatic, carminative, diuretica and ecbolic. (Be careful with using sage during pregnancy!)The variety “Extracta” is especially rich in essential oil.

St. John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum): Sow outdoors in May or June or pre-culture indoors from February to April. Sow flat, press on soil, but do not cover. The seeds germinate within 2-3 weeks. Perennial, up to 80 cm tall. Hardy in zones 2-9. Thrives in full sun, on dry, nutrient-low, lime-deficient soil. Plant 40 cm apart. A must in any wild flower garden, the golden yellow flowers attract different pollinators. Ancient healing herb, containing hypericine, which acts antibacterial. The oil or balm are used externally to treat wounds. A tea is drunk as a nerve tonic and to lift depression. Used is the upper third of the aerial parts. The variety “Taubertal” is especially rich in hypericine and resistant against diseases.

Savory (Satureja hortensis):

Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare): Sow outdoors from April to June. Sow flat on soil, press on gently and do not cover. Perennial, up to 1 m tall, with yellow flowers from July through September. Hardy in zones 3-8. Thrives in full sun on dry, normal, nutritious, humic soil. Plant 30 cm apart. Strongly aromatic herb with insecticidal properties, which protects other plants from pests. The young leaves and sprouts were baked into spring cakes. The flowers were used for dying clothes yellow-green. Also known as “bitter buttons”, inspired by the shape of the flowers and the bitter aroma. In magic it is attributed to the planet “Venus”.

Thyme (Thymus vulgaris): Preculture indoors from March to May or sow outdoors from April to June. Sow flat on soil, press on gently and do not cover. The seeds germinate within 2-3 weeks. Perennial, up to 30 cm tall, with bushy growth and small purple flowers. Hardy to zones 5-9. Thrives in warm climates, in full sun, on dry, low-nutrient, well drained soil. Plant 30 cm apart. Requires winter protection, add shade to prevent dehydration from the winter sun. Traditional condiment in Mediterranean cuisine and important healing herb, which is used widely against coughing. Today’s medicinally used thyme comes from the species Thymus pulegioides, which is not as sensitive to frost and provides a lovely ground-covering.

Tulsi (Ocimum tenuiflorum): Sow outdoors from May to June or pre-culture indoors starting in March. Sow flat on soil, press on gently and do not cover! The seeds germinate quickly within 1-2 weeks at temperatures around 20°C. Prick out and leave 30 cm space between single plants. Requires a warm and sunny spot, protected from wind. The soil should be nutritious, humus rich and well drained. Annual to perennial, up to 50 cm tall. Hardy in zones 9-11. (Try overwintering indoors.) In India the herb is thought to be inhabited by the goddess Tulasidevi, who grants protection for the house and home. The fresh leaves are added to salads and on top of warm meals (the leaves are not cooked). Also known as holy basil. In Ayurveda it is used to support the immune system.

Valerian (Valeriana officinalis): Sow the fresh seeds outdoors in late summer or in April the following year. Else pre-culture indoors from March to June. Sow flat on soil, press on gently and do not cover. The seeds germinate within 2-3 weeks, at warm temperatures. Perennial, up to 160 cm tall, with bright pink flower umbels. Hardy in zones 3-9. Thrives in sun and half shade, in moist or damp places, on well drained, humus rich, limy soil. Valerian is the classic herbal soothing agent when it comes to anxieties, stress related symptoms and when ones has trouble falling asleep. The part used is the root, which is tinctured or simply drunk as tea before sleep. Btw. felines are also fond of valerian and you may want to keep your plants out of their reach, unless you welcome the sight of a drunk cat rolling back and forth in your valerian plants.

Vervain (Verbena officinalis): Sow outdoors in autumn or early summer. Or pre-culture indoors from February to April. Sow flat on soil, press on gently and do not cover. The seeds may germinate weeks apart and require low temperatures around 5°C prior to germination. Be patient. Once you have a vervain plant you will quickly see it spread! A bushy perennial, up to 80 cm tall, with pale purple flowers. It readily sows out itself (to prevent it from spreading in your garden, cut the upper parts before they set seed.) It is a carefree wild addition in the garden, with little requirements and grows in any corner, even in small cracks in the stone or asphalt. The German name “Eisenkraut” translates as “iron wort”, a reference to its use in the smelting of iron ore. Germanic peoples attributed wound-healing effects to vervain. In ancient times it was strewn on altars to appease the gods. Vervain is a healing herb, which eases stomach pains, counteracts lack of appetite and is drunk as a tea against colds. The parts used are the upper foliage and stems, which are harvested at the beginning of the flowering period.

Viper’s Bugloss (Echium vulgare): Sow outdoors, in late autumn or early spring. Sow ca. 0,5 cm deep and cover loosely. Keep evenly moist and away from sunlight. Temperatures below 5°C are favorable. The seeds require a cold period prior to germination and may germinate weeks apart. Be patient. Pioneer plant. Thrives in full sun, on dry, poor, nutrient-low soils. Biennial to perennial, up to 120 cm tall, with deep or bright blue flowers that change color to purple as they mature. The flowers are a joy for wild bees and other pollinating insects. Single plants will grow bushy – plant 40 cm apart. The young leaves can be cooked and eaten in wild plant salads. The blue flowers can be added to sweet desserts. The plant contains alkannins and allantoine, which act antibacterial and promote wound healing.

Wood Betony (Stachys officinalis): cold germinator. Sow outdoors in autumn or from February to beginning of April. Plant the seeds ca. 0,5 cm into sowing soil and cover loosely. Keep evenly moist and away from sunlight. Temperatures below 5°C are favorable. The seeds require a cold period prior to germination and may germinate weeks apart. Be patient. Perennial herb, up to 60 cm tall, with red to deep pink flowers from June to September. Hardy in zones 4-7. Thrives in full sun or half shade, on nutritious, well-drained humic soil. Plant 25 cm apart. Forms small clusters and makes for a lovely addition to any garden, especially with its long flowering period. Plant in groups, as a ground cover or along borders. Forgotten about healing herb of antiquity, currently experiencing a renaissance.

Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium): cold germinator. The seeds need light to germinate. Sow flat on moist seeding compost that has been mixed with sand, press on and do not cover. Place in a warm and sunny spot. -> germination temperature: 18-20°C, germination time: 1-2 weeks. Separate young plants and plant outdoors when strong enough, in full sun or semi-shade. A good place is for example the south side of a dry stone wall. The soil can be loamy and sandy. Perennial, hardy herb, native to temperate regions of Eurasia and Northern Africa and widely naturalized in other parts of the world. The herb grows 30 cm to 1 m high. The small, bright yellow flowers appear from June to August. They are pollinated by wind and carry tiny seeds. With the years the herb develops semi-wooden stems, which should be cut back after the winter. The aromatic leaves are used in cooking and absinthe making, but contain strong bitterns as well as harmful Thujon. The bitterns are removed through distillation.

Yarrow (Achillea millefolium): The seeds require light to germinate. Sow them directly in the bed, after the last frosts have passed. Moisten regularly until the seeds germinate. -> germination temperature: 16-18°C, germination time: 3-5 weeks. Prefers a dry place in full sun and grows wild along waysides, on fields and wastelands. It thrives on lean, well drained soil and does not like heavy clays or rich and nutritious mediums. By removing faded flowers the plant is stimulated to produce more blooms. Divide and thin out every so often to avoid yarrow crowding out other herbs and flowers.

Helpful Links: Das Kräuterbuch + Templiner Kräutergarten + Saatgut-Vielfalt, Walter Wolf + Garten-Lexikon +
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