Landscaping with Medicinal Plants

Fill your home and garden with herbs that will not only bring brightness and intrigue to your landscape, but that can also be crafted into natural, nurturing medicines.

| March/April 2019

Traditional landscaping can offer a lot of benefits. Plants bring beauty, shade, food, and wildlife habitats to your home, among many other ecological services. Plants can offer medicine and healing for our bodies, minds, and spirits as well. It’s just a matter of getting to know the plants we can grow and which ones can help us most.

Since the beginning of time, humans have evolved with plants — the original medicine — as sources of nutrition and wellness. Modern pharmaceuticals are often formulated to mimic herbs or are created using herbs in conjunction with synthesized constituents. And the further these herbs are from their natural state, the harder it can be for our bodies to use them for healing. These single adaptogens are powerful medicine, so why not start learning which plants can help us, and how to grow them in a backyard garden, a homestead, or even a single sunny apartment window?

Adapt and Grow

There are some basic things to consider when choosing plants to include in any space. I think of plants as if they’re people: They have ideal growing conditions and characteristics that are genetically predetermined. All plants are native to somewhere, and finding out exactly where can provide important information about what will make the plant thrive (which is especially important for plant medicine). You’ll want to learn the following things:

How big will a plant be when it’s mature? You’ll want to provide enough space for the plant to be happy long-term.

What soil and moisture conditions will the plant thrive in? Soil can be any variation of wet, dry, rocky, dense, or clay, and you’ll want to match the type of plant to the soil you have, as well as make sure it’s not under- or overwatered.

How does the plant spread (Seed? Roots or rhizomes?) and will it be hard to contain? Knowing this will determine the maintenance it will need.

2/28/2019 7:12:27 AM

I want to grow all of these. But what do you mean - shade makes some areas "undesirable"? I welcome the opportunity to grow natives and medicinal herbs in the shade that I have.

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