Growing Medicinal Herbs for Tea
Growing a medicinal herb garden can be fun, easy, and extremely rewarding. Medicinal herbs for tea can have a positive impact on your health and longevity, too. In this article, we’re going to take a look at how to grow an herbal tea garden that will be the centerpiece of your yard and garden.
I love herbal teas because they’re caffeine-free and can be blended from a wide variety of plant materials, many of which are easily grown in almost any backyard. If you love herbal teas and are interested in growing your own, planting a spring herb garden for homegrown herbal teas is a perfect project for you.
What I especially love about growing my own herbs for tea is knowing beyond doubt that they are grown organically and without any chemicals. You can’t say that when buying commercially grown teas, even ones that say organic. For this reason, I grow, dry, and blend my own herbal tea combinations every year. Thankfully, with the proper care, most herbal tea plants are a snap to grow and harvest. Read on to find out how easy growing medicinal herbs for tea is.
How to Plan for an Herbal Garden
For first-time gardeners, deciding on a garden layout can sometimes be its own challenge. There’s a world of options to choose from when it comes to building an herb garden, it all matters on your personal needs and preferences.
Let’s start from square one with location, location, location. Using your home as a base for how you plan your garden is a perfect first step. Do you live in a house in the suburbs? On a farm with wide-open space? In an apartment with a balcony? All of these factors play into how and where you grow the herbs.
The simplest method of growing medicinal herbs for tea is to grow them individually in their own little planters. This method is beneficial because individual pots give you greater mobility to move the herbs to different areas of the garden or home, and each herb has proper space to grow without another herb species stifling its growth. On the other hand, this can become very clustered, especially if you intend on growing a wide array of herbs.
If you’re really short on space, then might I suggest vertical gardening as a solution? One of the most popular solutions to vertical herb gardening is a gardening tower. A garden tower is a tall structure with small “pockets” from which each individual plant grows. This planter allows for multiple varieties of plants to grow, without cluttering your patio with an army of pots. A gardening tower might also be the ideal choice for balcony gardeners, who want to make the most out of the little space that they have.
I would recommend taking a look around your home and figuring out where the ideal place would be for growing an herbal tea garden. Which area gets the most sunlight? Which area gets the most shade? How many planters can I fit on my balcony? These are all questions you should ask yourself when planning a garden.
Varieties of Herbs
The next step in planning an herbal tea garden for growing medicinal herbs for tea is selecting the variety of herbs to grow. The number of varieties you can branch out to is endless, and each herb has a special effect on the human body.
Let’s take a look at some notable varieties of medicinal herbs that are especially beneficial when included in tea blends:
10 Best Herbs to Grow for Tea
Possessing one of the most recognizable aromas in existence; mint is an absolute powerhouse in the herb garden. Mint is a perfect starter herb because it is an easy herb to grow. Mint can take up to 90 days to be fully mature and requires minimal care. It is a non-intensive herb to grow, making it perfect for beginners.
Mint is considered a perennial plant, meaning it is a plant that lives for several years and returns every growing season. With the right care, your mint plant has the potential to live forever. When planting mint, make sure to use light soil that provides ample drainage. These plants enjoy the full sun (about 6 to 8 hours of light a day) but can handle partial shade as well. Mint is also capable of being grown indoors. To accommodate its light requirement, try and keep your mint next to a sunny window!
As a medicinal herb, mint is used to treat many ailments. Most notably, mint tea is used to relieve digestion issues, such as irritable bowel syndrome and indigestion. Mint has also been used as a natural nasal decongestant, making it a go-to cold remedy. Mint is used in aromatherapy to treat anxiety, stress, and even headaches.
At first glance, chamomile might just look like delicate little flowers, but they’re just as useful as they are pretty! Chamomile tea is applauded worldwide for its effect on improving sleep quality and moods. The best part- it is one of the simplest herbs to grow in the garden.
While chamomile is normally classified as an annual, it self-seeds at such a rapid pace that it does the re-planting for your next growing season. The result is a beautiful abundance of these flowers. Chamomile flowers best in the full sun to partial shade. However, if you are growing chamomile in a hot climate, you might want to lean towards partial shade, as too much sun could accidentally fry your flowers.
Chamomile grows rapidly, all varieties bloom within 10 weeks of sowing. They’re drought tolerant and do not require a vigorous watering schedule. In addition, chamomile doesn’t require much fertilization either.
People swear by using chamomile tea as a nighttime sleep aid. In addition to relieving sleep troubles, some drinkers of chamomile tea also report improved mood, including reduced symptoms of depression. And that’s not all; chamomile is packed with antioxidants, which is linked to lowering the risks of certain cancers!
While lemon balm isn’t quite as popular as other household herbs, they’re definitely worth taking a look at for their medical benefits. Lemon balm is a member of the mint family, and just like its cousin, it is very easy to grow this aromatic herb.
Lemon balm is very tolerant of most conditions. While gardeners report they do very well in partial sun, they are capable of withstanding full sun exposure (however sunlight may lessen the herb’s color and flavor). Lemon balm does not require special treatment or fertilization during its growing process. The only growing condition it really requires is that it is planted in moist, well-draining soil. Lemon balm has a growth time of about 70 days.
Medicinally, lemon balm shares similar traits to the other members of the mint family. Just like mint, lemon balm is helpful in aiding indigestion & nausea as well as stress & anxiety. Lemon balm can also act as a painkiller, with some using this herb to relieve toothaches, headaches, and menstrual cramps.
The people of ancient civilizations saw the benefits of hyssop thousands of years ago. To this day, hyssop is still used in many medicinal teas just like it was used in the old days.
Hyssop is a flowering perennial with a similar look to rosemary or lavender. It often requires full sun, though, in hotter zones, it is better to plant hyssop in an area that gets partial sun. They are tolerant of drought and prefer drier, well-draining soil to be planted in.
The best way to introduce hyssop into the garden is through propagation or transplanting. It is recommended to plant hyssop transplants and cuttings in the early spring, allowing the hyssop to have time to develop for a couple of months prior to harvesting. Hyssop is able to be grown from seed, albeit it can take up to a year before you have viable hyssop that can be harvested.
As a medicine, hyssop is commonly steeped into a tea and used as a natural “cure-all” for a wide range of medical conditions. The most popular use of hyssop tea is for respiratory troubles. People can use hyssop tea to alleviate cold symptoms, including loosening phlegm and calming sore throats. Other common uses are pain relief, digestive relief, and some even reported using hyssop tea for weight loss.
This rhizome is famous for its anti-inflammatory properties and bold, spicy flavor. Growing ginger in a home garden is completely viable, though it does have a significant growing time (8-10 months) before it can be properly harvested and consumed. Regardless, gardeners who are up for the challenge of growing ginger find that it is a satisfying crop to add to a medicinal herbs garden.
Ginger is a tropical plant, it thrives in warm weather conditions. Thankfully, for those living in cooler zones, ginger is fully capable of being grown in a container that can be moved from indoors to outdoors as the seasons change. While ginger might be tolerant of cooler temps
Start planting ginger segments early, they will take a long time to germinate and develop. Ginger loves moist soil, so attentively watering is key to successfully growing a ginger plant. During the long growing period of ginger, treat the plant with a granular fertilizer that has a 5:5:5 nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium ratio.
Ginger is most notably used for anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, due to its high content of gingerol (the main active compound in ginger). Ginger tea is also effective in fighting nausea. If you find yourself with an upset stomach, sipping on ginger tea can help alleviate your pain.
Catnip is a super easy herb to grow and requires minimal care. Just keep in mind that, like other plants in the mint family, it can be invasive. I find it is best to plant catmint and other mints in containers so that they can’t take over the whole garden. Catnip can be planted in your garden in spring or fall, from seed or plants. It sprouts quickly when started from seed. This perennial thrives in poor soil that is well-drained and is not very fussy about the ground in which they grow, as long as the soil isn’t too moist.
Catnip (Nepeta cataria) is a perennial herb native to Europe, North America, and Asia. This member of the mint family has been used for centuries as an herbal tea, but it’s also a valuable medicinal plant with many benefits.
Sage needs its space and does well when planted at least 18 and 24 inches apart in an area that gets plenty of sunlight and has rich, well-drained soil with a pH of 6.5 to 7.0.
Sage should be pruned of the heavier, woody stems every spring.
Sage tea is full of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds. It may promote skin, oral, and brain health, as well as decrease your risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease, among other benefits.
9. Holy Basil
You can grow holy basil much as you would other herbs, but it does require warm temperatures, much like rosemary. If you live in a warm, tropical, or sub-tropical climate, you can grow it outdoors with ease. If you live in a cool climate like me (zone 6a) you’ll have better luck if you grow your holy basil in containers and overwinter them indoors as you do with rosemary.
Holy basil prefers light, well-draining soil that is enriched with organic material, although holy basil will tolerate poor soil fairly well. I like to add compost to my soil for added nutrients that herbs seem to love. This plant will surprisingly tolerate some shade, so if you don’t have much full sun…no worries, you’ll likely have success with holy basil! Water regularly when dry and harvest leaves as needed, just as you would with an ordinary sweet basil plant.
Use fresh or dried leaves in tea to help you tackle stress, anxiety, and inflammation. Holy basil is an adaptogen with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, and can even help people with arthritis or fibromyalgia.
If you’re planning on making an herbal tea garden, then I say go for it! Developing and growing medicinal herbs for tea to me feels like we’re reconnecting with our ancient ancestors, who used herbs as medicine to treat ailments. Make sure you put in proper care and attention and your herbs will be thriving in no time at all!
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