Growing beneficial medicinal herbs will positively thrive in containers placed right on your porch or patio. Many can even double as attractive houseplants, the likes of which may arouse the botanical curiosity of friends and neighbors.
These hand-picked herbs will round out any medicine chest and add beauty to your home. Adaptogens, first-aid herbs, digestives, and relaxing remedies are all represented.
*Please note that this article’s discussion of medicinal uses is introductory in scope. We’ve provided safety guidelines for each plant, but we recommend that you research any new herb and consult your health care providers for possible drug/herb contraindications and precautions before ingesting.
Lavender has a wonderful proclivity for soothing the nerves, and has been used medicinally for centuries as a remedy for digestive issues, headaches, stress, and grief. It is a gentle sedative, which also makes it beneficial for anxiety and insomnia.
Lavender is often used in formula for the herbal treatment of depression as it has more immediate effects as compared to many of the slower-acting tonic antidepressants and adaptogens. I combine lavender with lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) and lemon verbena (Aloysia citrodora) in tea to help lift the spirits.
The flavor of lavender tea is stronger than one might expect: it’s slightly bitter, mildly astringent, and very aromatic. A little goes a long way. Try combining it with rose petals (Rosa spp.), mint (Mentha spp.), chamomile (Matricaria recutita), or passionflower (Passiflora incarnata) for relaxation and decompression. It is generally safe for children and the elderly.
Topically, lavender (as a wash or essential oil) can be healing for burns, wounds, and minor infections. It is soothing, antimicrobial, and pain-relieving.
Don’t forget that lavender is also a culinary herb! Cultivation: Lavender’s beautiful purple spikes and uplifting aroma make it a classic garden darling. English lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) is the most common species grown and used medicinally. However, there are thirty-nine species of lavender, many of which are grown ornamentally! Ask your local herb nursery which varieties or cultivars grow best in your area.
A short-lived perennial, lavender prefers full sun, well-drained soil, and ample airflow. You may want to add perlite, gravel, or sand to lavender’s potting soil to provide ideal growing conditions. And if you live in a region with high rainfall, consider giving the plants cover in a sunny locale so they don’t receive too much water. Bring your lavender plants inside to overwinter—preferably in a place that receives bright, direct light—if your climate experiences hard freezes!
Lemongrass is a popular tea and everyday home remedy for some of the most common health complaints: headaches, stress, anxiety, indigestion, insomnia, coughs, colds, and flu.
It is a staple herb in Brazilian, Caribbean, Chinese, and Indian folk medicines. Much of the contemporary research conducted on lemongrass has centered on the essential oil, which has demonstrated marked antibacterial and antifungal properties.
I use lemongrass as a uniquely delicious medicinal tea. In the summertime, try pairing lemongrass with other citrusy herbs, like lemon balm and lemon verbena, along with hibiscus (Hibiscus sabdariffa), for a refreshing herbal iced tea.
You can add the flavorful “bulbs”—the tender inner base of the stems—to broths, Thai coconut soups, and curries. Teas and broths featuring lemongrass are wonderful for easing the symptoms of colds and flu.
Cultivation: This aromatic tropical grass is often grown as a container plant and brought indoors to be protected during the colder months. Growing it in a pot helps to keep its size manageable, and it’s quite commanding when planted with other ornamental herbs, such as artichoke (Cynara scolymus) and purple sage (Salvia officinalis ‘Purpurascens’).
For a tropical flair, pair with nasturtium (Tropaeolum spp.) and other cascading flowers. Plan to acquire a large pot for lemongrass and its companions!
Lemongrass prefers full sun and soils that drain rapidly—consider adding extra perlite or pine bark fines to your soil mix. Harvest the stems repeatedly throughout the growing season to increase yields and to keep growth in check.
If you have difficulty finding lemongrass plants in your area, you can often obtain pieces of lemongrass stem, with attached roots, from Asian grocers. These can be directly planted in pots or encouraged to root in a glass of water before planting. You can also grow it from seed if you get a head start on the season.
White sage’s medicinal uses are nearly interchangeable with its Mediterranean cousin, garden sage (Salvia officinalis), although the former is more antimicrobial and stimulating than its domestic brethren.
I use a steam inhalation of the leaves to help break up respiratory congestion in both the lungs and sinuses. Try combining it with thyme (Thymus vulgaris) and wild bergamot (Monarda fistulosa) in the steam pot with a few drops of eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus) essential oil.
The practice of burning white sage as an aromatic cleansing and purifying agent has been widely adopted by Westerners, to the demise of wild populations which have been overharvested, primarily for sale as “smudge sticks.”
Cultivation: Endemic to southern California and Baja California, white sage has become increasingly rare in its native habitat due to over-gathering. If you enjoy this herb, please consider growing your own supply. Do not gather or purchase wild-harvested white sage. We have a more detailed growing guide (plus recipes!) on the blog.
White sage favors warm, dry conditions. In humid climates, white sage will sometimes develop fungal diseases or rot. I cut off the afflicted area, and it will often make a comeback, but sometimes the whole plant up and dies. Subsequently, I plant more white sage than I ultimately need.
White sage is especially alluring in a terra-cotta or glazed blue ceramic pot. Add extra drainage material to the soil mix, such as coarse sand, perlite, or pine bark fines, and take care not to overwater. White sage is also prone to aphids; if it seems over wilty, look for the little green, red, or black insects on the undersides of the fresh growth. Use insecticidal soap as an organic pest control.
It is typically prepared as a whole dried herb or a dried powdered extract, while teas and liquid extracts are made from fresh or dried leaves.
Rosemary is a perennial plant (it lives more than 2 years).The leaves are often used in cooking.Possible health benefits include improved concentration, digestion, and brain aging.
Beyond the kitchen shelf and bathroom medicine cabinet your home herbal pharmacy can extend out onto the window sill or patio. Given the right light and watering many medicinal plants will thrive and can be a useful resource to have on hand. Label plants so that when you are harvesting them you know what you are taking for the right remedy. You can find copper garden markers at our Etsy shop to help label your beautiful helpful herbs. Follow the link to see https://www.etsy.com/listing/681882748/6-copper-garden-marker-set-herb-marker
So growing any of the herbs above can bring pleasure and a sense of achievement. If you know of any herb that can be used as a helpful remedy please comment below!