In March 2020, in the early days of the Covid pandemic, searches for ‘echinacea’ reached an all-time high on Google.
People were searching for other plants too including ‘elderberry’ and ‘turmeric’ in an effort to boost their immunity and protect them from the viral infection.
Imagine having your own echinacea growing in your backyard at this time. Having the natural remedies to take care of your health and well-being can be satisfying. This is a great reason to grow medicinal plants at home and I’m going to show you the 10 best ones you should grow now.
Your backyard pharmacy can be a source of remedies to some of the most common needs and problems like pain (migraine, toothache), immunity-boosters, skin rejuvenation, sleep, acid reflux and more.
Some of these plants have multiple benefits and include chamomile for enhancing sleep quality, lavender for repelling mosquitoes, and echinacea for giving you an immune boost. These plants have been known for their healing properties for centuries.
In this post, I’m going to talk about 10 medicinal plants and their benefits, active compounds, traditional uses, preparation methods, growing conditions, planting tips and more.
If you want to take advantage of nature’s pharmacy instead of relying on expensive drugs with all their unwanted side effects, it’s time to grow your own garden filled with these plants.
Here are the 10 best medicinal plants to grow at home in your garden.
Calendula, also known as pot marigold is a perennial flowering plant in warm climates but can thrive as an annual flower in much cooler climates.
Although it is called pot marigold, it is different from the common marigold. Calendula is part of the Asteraceae family along with chrysanthemums, daisies and ragweed. It is native to the Mediterranean region but is now grown in gardens around the world.
Due to it’s high flavonoid content, Calendula has many health benefits. It is anti-inflammatory, antiviral and antibacterial.
Traditionally, Calendula is used in a variety of ways to treat different problems but it’s mainly used as a topical application for various skin problems.
Calendula has been shown to help accelerate healing in wounds and cuts by increasing blood flow and oxygen to the affected area. Cuts treated with Calendula normally heal without much scarring. It is also used to hydrate the skin and maintain firmness.
Other uses include treatment of eczema and diaper rash in babies as well as prevent dermatitis and and skin inflammation in people with breast cancer who have been exposed to radiation therapy.
Calendula usually comes in the form of tinctures, ointments, creams, infusions and liquid extracts. It is not usually taken by mouth.
By growing your own Calendula, you can easily make your own infused oils, salves, lotions or even teas from the dried petals of the plant.
Calendula is easily grown from seed as they will easily germinate and sprout. Once planted, they will readily self-seed in your garden although you can collect the seed from the flower and replant.
You can start Calendula seeds indoors in a seed starter mix about six to eight weeks before the last frost date. Or you can sow them directly in the garden just before the last spring frost date. They usually bloom within two months of planting the seeds.
Calendula is grown in full sunlight and although they will tolerate poor conditions they will grow better in well-drained and rich soil.
The bright flowers attract bees and butterflies as well as other beneficial insects and is a great companion plant for any vegetable garden.
Growing Calendula as part of your medicinal garden allows you to have a solution ready for treating common skin problems, cuts, bruises and wounds where you want quick healing with very little scarring and also to prevent infection.
2. California Poppy
The California Poppy is the state flower of California. It is native to the Pacific Coast of North America from Western Oregon to Baja, California but grows in many states across the United States.
The flowers typically bloom in the summer and renew themselves annually from seed. Although they’re from the same family as the opium poppy, they do not contain opiates and hence there is no narcotic effect nor is it addictive.
Medicinally, the California Poppy has anxiolytic and sedative effects and is normally used to improve sleep quality and cope with stress and anxiety.
It can help to support deep, restorative sleep and can be used as a natural alternative to sleeping pills.
Other uses for California Poppy include:
- treatment for mood disorders like anxiety, depression and stress.
- solution for bed-wetting in children due to anxiety and is generally considered safe for their use.
- relief for some types of pain like menstrual cramps, toothache, arthritis and mild headaches.
California Poppy is available as a liquid extract or as a supplement. By growing California Poppy at home, you can use all parts of the plant to make your own tinctures, tea, salves and infusions.
The plant is considered safe for use in both adults and children. However, it may interfere with lactation so it should not be used while breastfeeding.
Growing California Poppy
California Poppy is easily grown from seed. You should sow the seeds in the spring after the threat of frost has passed.
The plant grows fast and take about 55-90 days to mature. They prefer to grow in full sunlight but may not thrive in excessive heat. They also do not need a lot of water or fertilizer to grow. As self-seeding annuals, they will renew themselves every year.
Flowers from the California Poppy produce a lot of pollen and is an important food source of beneficial insects.
They make a great companion plant for lavenders and salvias as well as root vegetables such as carrots, beetroot, and turnips.
By growing your own California Poppy at home, you’ll have a natural alternative to sleeping pills and nervous system tonics to treat mood conditions like anxiety, depression and stress.
Many are familiar with chamomile as a soothing herbal tea. The plant which it comes from is actually a very beneficial plant that has great medicinal value.
Chamomile belongs to the Asteraceae family and has small daisy-like flowers and feathery green leaves.
Dried chamomile flowers contain many flavonoids and terpenoids which contribute to it’s medicinal properties. It is an antioxidant and has anti-inflammatory and antibiotic properties.
Chamomile is typically used in teas and promoted as a sleep aid as it has mild sedative properties. However, it has a lot more benefits as a medicinal herb.
It is valued for it’s digestive benefits, helping to ease indigestion, bloating and stomach discomfort. The plant is also an effective treatment for eczema when applied topically.
More widely available as a tea, you can also get chamomile as an oil or supplement. By growing it at home, you can make your own teas, salves, oils, and tinctures or use it in a bath or compress for topical treatment.
Like all of the other plants on this list, chamomile is easily grown from seed. They do not need any extra fertilization to thrive and can grow both indoor and outdoors.
You can start seeds indoors about 6 weeks before last frost or outdoors in the fall and let the seeds stratify during the winter for an early spring crop.
Chamomile is often referred to as the “gardener’s doctor” as it has the power to heal and enhance the growth of plants around it. It is a great companion plant for vegetables especially cucumbers.
The herb can deter plant pests such as aphids and cabbage worms while the flowers when in bloom can attract beneficial insects like bees that can help pollinate nearby crops.
Growing chamomile in your home garden is a great way to ensure that you derive medicinal benefits. You’ll have an excellent sleep aid, digestion aid and a way to relax your entire body when you need to.
Chicory is a self-seeding perennial herb with violet blue flowers that is closely related to the dandelion. It is from the Asteraceae family of plants.
This plant, Cichorium Intybus, isn’t to be confused with the endive-like leafy vegetable which is actually a subspecies of C. Intybus.
Chicory has a long taproot that is edible along with the leaves. The nutritious root is often ground to make a coffee substitute while the leaves are eaten as a salad green despite their bitter taste.
The leaves of the Chicory plant are rich in vitamins K, C, B and manganese. The plant is also valued for it’s medicinal properties.
Traditional use range from using it as a tonic to increase urine production, to protect the liver and for balancing out the stimulant effect of coffee.
Chicory can also help manage pain and is a very potent painkiller capable of soothing a variety of physical discomforts.
It is also a natural laxative and prebiotic and is great for regulating the bowels particularly when you’re constipated.
It’s many traditional uses make it a very handy plant to have in any medicinal garden. By growing it at home, you can make your own salves for pain relief, coffee for better digestion and even infusions for your sinus.
Chicory is easily propagated by seed and is best done is containers in the cold frame of autumn or spring.
The plant grows best in full sun and well-drained soil and does not need a lot of water to thrive. It can be a bit drought-tolerant once fully established.
Chicory’s long tap-root keeps the soil aerated and is great for pulling nutrients from deep in the soil. It is a great companion plant for carrots, onions and fennel as they share all the same growing conditions.
As a medicinal plant, the advantage of growing chicory at home means you’ll have a natural pain remedy, as well as a coffee substitute that is great for your digestive system and your liver.
If this list was only three items long instead of ten, echinacea would still be one of the top plants on the list to grow from home for it’s medicinal value.
Also known as the purple coneflower, echinacea was the primary medicine of Native Americans of the plains. They steeped the roots as a remedy for colds, coughs and infections.
Echinacea (Echinacea purpurea) is a member of the daisy family Asteraceae as are many of the other plants on this list. It’s beautiful purple flower features a seeded cone-like center that attracts bees, butterflies and yellow finches.
There are many medicinal benefits to be derived from echinacea. It is valued mostly as one of the most powerful immune system boosters. This makes it great for treating colds, flu and infections.
It can relieve pain and inflammation, and also has strong antiviral, antibiotic and antioxidant properties.
You will often find echinacea as an over-the-counter supplement or as an herbal tea. Known and valued for it’s immune system benefits, it is one of the most counterfeited supplements so it may be better to get it right from the source.
By growing echinacea at home, you’ll always have a way to boost your immune system especially when threatened with flu and cold symptoms.
It is most common to grow echinacea by buying plants from a nursery but it is also very easily planted by seed. However, seed-sown plants aren’t likely to bloom for 2 to 3 years.
When planting by seed, start them indoors about 8 to 10 weeks before the last spring frost or outdoors when the soil has warmed to at least 65°F/18°C.
Echinacea prefers full sun and well-drained soil and rarely need watering since they can be drought-tolerant.
Echinacea makes great companion plants as they help keep plants wet and weeds from taking over your backyard. It also repels aphids. The best plants to benefit from echinacea as a companion plant are lavender, yarrow, catmint, cabbage and alliums.
Grow echinacea from home and always have a remedy for immune system threats like infections, colds and flu. You can harvest the flowers to make tea or the root to make a decoction for aches and pains.
6. Evening Primrose
The evening primrose gets its name from the fact that its flowers open at sunset. Each bloom lasts for one night.
The beautiful yellow flowering plant has a life cycle of two years where it’s basal leaves appear in the first year and then blooms in the second year. It easily reseeds and is deemed invasive in some areas.
The entire plant is edible including the roots, leaves and flower.
Our forefathers used the evening primrose to treat wounds, bruises and skin eruptions. The plant produces two substances that the skin needs but cannot produce on its own – gamma linolenic-acid and linolenic acid.
These substances are also important for membranes of the nerve cell and many people with unresolved nerve pain are turning to the evening primrose for treatment.
A valuable natural skin and nerve remedy, the evening primrose can also be used for hormonal imbalance, multiple schlerosis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Evening primrose is available as a herbal supplement and as evening primrose oil for skin and nerves. It is also available s a tea for digestive issues and mood swings.
By growing evening primrose at home, you can ensure that you always have a remedy for any of the problems mentioned here especially for treating skin and nerve issues.
Growing Evening Primrose
Evening primrose is typically grown from seed as it is very easy to do so. You can buy seeds online or collect them from wild plants growing along the roadside.
You can directly sow seeds into previously cultivated soil in the autumn as they need the cold for stratification in order to germinate.
Evening primrose need full sunlight, some moisture and well-drained soils. They can tolerate gravelly or sandy soils, drought conditions and light shade.
The plant easily self-seeds and can spread in a rather weedy style. To prevent spreading, snip off the expired blossoms to prevent self-seeding and discard rather than letting them fall to the ground. In some areas the evening primrose is deemed as invasive.
Evening primrose serves as food for beneficial insects and attracts hawk moths which help move pollen much further than bees and birds as well as butterflies and bumblebees.
Plant evening primroses so that you can use this entire plant for fast skin and nerve issues at home. Premenstrual syndrome (PMS), atopic dermatitis and rheumatoid arthritis are just a few problems that can be remedied with natural medicine made from evening primrose.
Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium) is a daisy-like flowering plant that looks a bit like chamomile. Both are from the same family, Asteraceae as are many of the other plants on this list.
The name ‘feverfew’ comes from the Latin ‘febrifugia‘ which means ‘fever reducer’. Hence there’s no surprise that this plant has valuable medicinal properties that can help treat fevers and other ailments.
It is known as “nature’s aspirin” and can treat migraines and arthritis. The active compound in feverfew is parthenolide which is found in it’s highest concentrations in the flower heads. Parthenolide has powerful anti-inflammatory properties making it good for painful and inflamed joints.
The leaves and the flower heads are the most used parts of the plant. They can be eaten raw or used to make tea, salves, tinctures and is also useful as an insect repellent.
Before you plant feverfew in your backyard garden, take note that the citrus-like scent of the plant repels bees so don’t plant it near other plants that will need bees to pollinate.
You can plant feverfew with vegetables that need protection from insects as it naturally repels a variety of insects. The perfect companion plants for feverfew are herbs such as mint and thyme both of which are also insect repellents.
Feverfew is easily grown from seed and need sunlight to germinate. They aren’t drought tolerant and need regularly watered soil. You can direct sow soil in the garden after all threat of frost has passed.
This plant can become a bit invasive as it self-seeds quite liberally. Regular pruning and deadheading can prevent excessive spread.
By growing feverfew in your backyard, you can be sure to always have natural remedies for fever and migraine, a natural alternative to aspirin and fever reducers.
The aromatic lavender has many uses from preventing moths from eating your clothing, repelling mosquitos, and as a sleep aid to help combat insomnia.
The word lavender comes from the Latin word “lavare” which means “to wash“. It was used in ancient times in baths to purify the body and spirit. Today, it is used in soaps for its fragrance and in shampoos for both the aroma and the fact that it improves blood flow and can strengthen hair follicles or even help with hair loss.
Lavender has a host of proven medical benefits, most notably as a natural remedy for anxiety and anxiety-related issues. A recent double-blind study concluded that lavender oil can be just as effective as 0.5mg daily dose of Lorazepam in treating anxiety.
Other proven medicinal benefits of lavender include:
- improving sleep quality. Lavender has mild sedative properties.
- healing wounds as it has strong antioxidant properties
- treating skin blemishes, eczema and acne
- reducing blood pressure, heart rate and stress
- reducing asthma symptoms as it has anti-inflammatory symptoms
- lessening hot flashes due to menopause
- combating fungus growth
- possibly promoting hair growth
Lavender is definitely one of the best medicinal plants you can grow in your backyard as it has not only a host of proven health benefits but its aromatic and pretty to look at as well.
Lavender is a herbaceous perennial that can be a bit challenging to plant from seed and is best to grow from nursery plants. The best time to plant is in the spring after the threat of frost has gone.
Lavender grow best in full sun so avoid shaded areas like under large trees. They also prefer well-drained soil but can be a drought-tolerant.
Deer do not like the aromatic, grey herbs so plant lavender as a decoy for plants you want to protect from them. Lavender is an excellent companion plant for many plants like cabbages, roses, echinacea and yarrow.
You can keep replanting lavender cuttings after harvesting so that you will always have a crop.
By growing lavender at home, you will always have a go-to plant with a host of medicinal benefits, from relieving anxiety to repairing hair and skin.
The marshmallow plant (Althaea officinalis) is native to Europe, Western Asia and North Africa. The Egyptians used to make a confection from the root that has evolved into the marshmallow treat we know of today. However, the treat that’s made in modern times rarely contains any marshmallow root.
Marshmallow is normally grown as an ornamental flower but it’s medicinal value is just as important to many. The scientific plant name comes from the Greek word “althainein” which means “to heal”.
The leaves and the root of the plant are antibacterial and contain a substance called mucilage. When mixed with water, it forms a gel that is very good for the entire digestive tract, helping to relieve irritation. Tea made from marshmallow can sooth stomach ulcers, heartburn, irritable bowel syndrome, indigestion, constipation and more.
The mucilage can also soothe irritated mucous membranes due to asthma, common cold, sore throat, bronchitis and coughs. It can also be applied topically to soothe chapped skin.
This is a great plant to have in your backyard medicinal garden for it’s ornamental and it’s medicinal and culinary benefits.
Marshmallow is best grown from seed. For the seeds to have a good chance of germinating, you should sow them in the fall so that they will be able to stratify during the winter. They will start to grow by the time spring comes around.
The marshmallow plant thrives best in full sun and moist soil. They do not grow well in shady areas or in soils that are too dry. They may tolerate brief periods of drought once they are fully established.
Bees and painted-lady butterflies are attracted to the marshmallow flowers as well as other pollinators. Companion plant marshmallow with taller herbs such as angelica and mullein.
You can harvest the roots after about 2 years to make infusions, tea, decoctions, salves and poultices to treat various conditions.
The yarrow plant (Achillea millefolium), is native to the temperate regions of North America, Europe, and Asia. The Latin word “Achillea” comes from the mythical warrior Achilles who used the plant to heal his soldiers during battle.
In North America, it is one of the sacred “life medicines” used by the Navajo people. Other Native American tribes also used the plant for healing.
Yarrow is a herbaceous perennial and a member of the Asteraceae family. Other common names for the plant include ‘soldiers woundwort’, ‘devil’s nettle’ and ‘old man’s pepper’.
The herb has a lot of traditional uses and as mentioned before, it is commonly used to heal wounds, allowing bleeding to stop quickly and preventing infections.
Yarrow leaves can be chewed to relieve toothache pain and can also be used to reduce inflammation of the gums.
Other common uses for yarrow include:
- soothing the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome
- lowering blood pressure and stimulating blood circulation
- alleviating digestive complaints
- easing menstrual discomforts and postpartum bleeding
- reducing the symptoms of depression and anxiety
Yarrow is readily available as a tea or liquid extract but you can also make your own infusions, poultices, tinctures, salves, tea and elixirs if you grow your own plants at home.
You can grow yarrow from either seed or nursery-grown plants. If growing by seed, start in early spring about 8 to 10 weeks before the last frost.
Yarrow can grow aggressively and if left unchecked can become a bit weedy. It is very tough plant that can tolerate poor conditions, is drought-resistant and pest resistant.
Yarrow prefers full sun and well-drained soil. Planting in full sun also encourages compact growth otherwise they will spread more if planted in shady areas.
The beautiful and aromatic flowers attract many pollinators including birds, bees, ladybugs and butterflies. Some of these insects eat aphids and other pests which keeps yarrow generally disease and pest free. Great companion plants for yarrow include salvia, daylily, lavender, echinacea and penstemon.
By planting yarrow in your home garden, you will always have a remedy at hand for a number of ailments and conditions especially for healing cuts, scrapes, burns and scratches.
Where To Get Seeds To Grow These Plants
Many of the plants mentioned above are easily grown by seed while some propagate best by nursery-grown cuttings.
Seeds can be sourced online at various sellers who deal exclusively with seeds or cater to gardeners and farmers. You can also buy them at Amazon.
If you would like to get seeds for all of the 10 plants mentioned here, you can purchase a medicinal garden kit like the one I reviewed here.
In this medicinal garden kit, you will find seeds for:
- evening primrose
- california poppy
- and marshmallow
But the real value in purchasing this kit instead of all the packets of seed separately is for the bonuses included in the kit. The kit includes brochures that give you planting instructions for all the different seeds and best of all a guide on how to use your plants to make remedies.
You’ll find recipes for making tinctures, tea, poultices, salves, infusions and more. This type of value isn’t available when you purchase seed packets individually.
Growing your own backyard medicinal garden puts you in control of your health and can become a valuable source of remedies when getting to a pharmacy isn’t an option.
You can check out the medicinal garden kit at this link to get all the seeds you need.