Follow our how to grow and how to use instructions to get all their health benefits.
When crushed into pastes, blended into creams or blended with water, our garden plants provide a host of health and holistic benefits. We’ve picked our favourite medicinal shrubs, so you can get growing and feel great.
Benefits: Known for its antibacterial properties, thyme makes for a great natural acne treatment. This super herb is also used to lower blood pressure, boost immunity and improve your mood. It can even be used as a disinfectant.
Thyme essential oil, which can be extracted from the leaves, is often employed to relieve coughs, arthritis, wounds, nausea and fatigue. It’s even said to prevent hair-loss.
Growing tips: Thyme is tricky to grow from seeds because of slow, uneven germination. Try taking some cuttings from a friend instead. Plant in well-drained soil and water regularly.
How to use: Throughout the summer, leaves and sprigs can be harvested at any time. For a quick thyme fix, try substituting for salt and sprinkling over food. If you have a little more thyme… and a little more time, you could even try making your own essential oil.
Benefits: Renowned for its calming qualities, chamomile tea is a sworn saviour to those whose nerves need regular soothing. It can also be used medicinally to ease indigestion, inflammation, toothache and burns.
Growing tips: Most chamomile is relatively easy to grow and can be directly sown in the garden, during late spring. The flower takes around four to six weeks to bloom.
How to use: Flower heads are ready to gather when petals fall back from the centre. Pick and allow to dry naturally (this usually takes one to two weeks), you can tell flowers are fully dry when blossoms crumble when crushed. Crush up flowers and keep in an airtight storage jar. To make tea, simply pour boiling water over two to three teaspoonfuls of the dried flowers then strain.
Benefits: Lavender oil is a great natural soother of scalp conditions such as dandruff, and helps to calm itchy skin. It is also said to help beat bloating and poor digestion. This vibrant purple plant is regularly used as a sleep aid owing to its relaxing qualities – tests have proven that simply smelling it lowers heart rate and blood pressure.
Growing tips: This easy to grow evergreen loves sandy soil and sunny borders. Simply sow seeds collected from heads, ideally between April and May. Lavender hates damp so make sure you select a well-draining location.
How to use: For a delicious dose of goodness, sprinkle dried lavender onto Greek yogurt, or, for a restful sleep, pop a handful into a vase on your bedside table. If you’re suffering from poor digestion, try pouring boiling water over dried lavender then strain and drink.
Benefits: Aloe gel is a time honoured treatment for sunburn and minor surface burns. The cool liquid also makes a lovely moisturiser. Try blending with melted coconut oil to make a nourishing massaging lotion.
Growing tips: Like cacti, aloe flourishes in hot climates and dry conditions (plants prefer eight to ten hours of sunlight per day). For best results, plant in a cactus potting soil mix (or regular soil with added building sand or perlite) and do not water for the first few days. Only water when soil is dry and make sure the pot has plenty of drainage holes (the plant may rot if in too much water).
How to use: Make sure your hands and tools are squeaky clean – you don’t want the pure aloe gel getting contaminated. Use a sharp knife to slice off an outer leaf. Place the leaf upright in a cup and let the dark yellow resin drain.
Next, use a veggie peeler to peel away the green portion of the leaves on one side, through to the gel underneath. Scoop the gel out with a spoon and into a clean jar. Gel is perishable so only make as much as you need (one to two leaves should make half a cup). You might want to consider blending the gel with a natural preservative such as Vitamin C powder.
Benefits: The ancient Greeks used rose petals to perfume their baths, and roses have been included in cosmetics and therapeutic treatments for centuries – helping to rejuvenate and replenish skin.
As a natural astringent, rose helps tighten pores and restore suppleness to skin for a glowing complexion. The beautiful blooms also have anti-fungal, anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties and are used to ease fever, sore throats and coughs.
Growing tips: With a little bit of love and attention, roses are easy to grow and aren’t too fussy when it comes to soil. Container-grown roses can be planted at any time, provided the ground is neither dry nor frozen.
Try to choose a sunny spot and dig a hole the depth of the spade’s blade and twice the width of the roots. Regularly remove dead, damaged or weak heads, feed with mulching and water well.
How to use: If you want to feel pampered, try making a rose face-mask. Blend eight fresh rose petals with two tablespoons of water, two teaspoons of honey and a dollop of natural yogurt, mix until smooth then apply. Alternatively, for a luxurious twist to your bath – try adding petals to the water. The essential oils will sooth your soul as well as sore muscles.
Benefits: Commonly used to treat anxiety, stress and sleeping disorders, valerian is known for its soothing effect. The plant can also be used to alleviate mild depression, headaches, stomach upsets and even symptoms of the menopause.
Growing tips: This hardy plant can thrive in any average, well-drained soil and can survive extreme cold weather. You can either start with a plant or germinate seeds indoors, ensuring they are kept in a sunny spot, until they sprout a second set of leaves. When planting outside, ensure your plant has plenty of room to grow and water well.
How to use: Valerian blooms need regular pruning to keep the plant from spreading. Roots and leaves can be harvested for use as sleep remedies after a year. Allow the plant to go without water for several days before digging up. Rinse the roots then chop into half-inch sections. Wash thoroughly then allow to dry out for a couple of months.
The leaves can be used to make a relaxing tea, while the root can be simmered and used as a powerful sleep aid. Just strain one teaspoon of your dried valerian root over hot water and relax.
Benefits: Feeling forgetful? Rosemary is known for its ability to boost memory and increase focus. The herb is famed for a wealth of health benefits including improvement of mood, reduction of inflammation and mild pain relief.
This evergreen is also said to boost the immune system, stimulate circulation and heal skin conditions. Rosemary is slightly diuretic, meaning it helps to flush out toxins. It is even linked to preventing bacterial infections and is a traditional soother for upset stomachs.
Growing tips: This Mediterranean herb loves sunlight and well draining soil but is surprisingly easy to grow and can thrive for years once it has taken root. It’s easiest to grow from a cutting, so find a plant you particularly admire and snip off a few four-inch pieces (Mid May is the best time to do this). Start off in a small pot filled with two-thirds coarse sand and one-third peat moss.
How to use: Students in ancient Greece wore rosemary crowns to improve mental performance but, for us, simply snipping off a sprig and sniffing regularly should have the same effect. Alternatively you could infuse with hot water and add honey for an aromatic alternative to tea.
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