These herbs are not only easy to grow but also have higher yields, meaning your harvests will be enough to fill your apothecary after one growing season.
Calendula Energetics: Warming, Drying, Stimulating, Constricting
Calendula (Calendula officinalis), also known as pot marigold, is a bright and cheerful addition to any garden. This herb has been used for centuries to treat a wide range of ailments, from skin irritations to digestive issues.
Calendula is generally considered to be a warming and stimulating herb. It is often used to promote blood flow to the skin, which can help to improve healing in minor wounds, bruises, and other skin irritations. Calendula also has a stimulating effect on the lymphatic system, which can help to improve circulation and immune function.
In terms of its energetic properties, calendula has a slightly bitter and pungent taste, which is associated with the fire element in traditional Chinese medicine. This makes it a useful herb for promoting digestion and stimulating the metabolism.
Calendula can be used both internally and externally, and is often included in healing salves and ointments due to its ability to stimulate tissue regeneration and promote healing.
There is some disagreement among herbalists about whether calendula is a warming or cooling herb. Some herbalists classify calendula as a warming herb, while others consider it to be cooling.
Those who classify it as a warming herb may do so because of its traditional use in stimulating digestion and supporting the liver, both of which are associated with a warming effect on the body. Calendula is also used to promote circulation and blood flow to the skin, which can create a warming sensation.
On the other hand, those who classify calendula as a cooling herb may do so because of its traditional use in soothing and cooling skin irritations and inflammations. Calendula has also been used to calm the nerves and reduce anxiety, which can have a cooling effect on the body.
Ultimately, the energetics of an herb can vary depending on the context of its use, as well as the individual constitution and condition of the person using it.
To grow calendula, sow seeds directly into the garden after the last frost has passed. They germinate within a week as long as the temperatures are warm enough. They will begin to flower after about six weeks, and will continue to bloom all summer long.
Calendula prefers full sun and well-drained soil, and once established, it requires very little maintenance.
Harvest the flowers in the early afternoon or late morning after all dew has evaporated. Choose flowers that are fully open and deadhead any that are wilting. Be sure to harvest the entire flower, including the green sticky bract. The bracts contain resin that is highly medicinal with wound-healing properties.
I harvest flowers every other day to keep the plants blooming. I take about a third of the flowers and leave the rest for the pollinators. Calendula attracts a lot of beneficial insects to the garden and are excellent companion plants to cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots, and leafy greens.
I stop dead heading in the late summer so I can collect the dried flowers for seed. Each flower head can produce up to 20 seeds. Let the seeds dry out then store them in cool, dry place.
Spilanthes Energetics: Mildly Warming, Mildly Drying, Stimulating, Dispersing
Spilanthes (Acmella oleracea), also known as the toothache plant, is a unique and unusual herb that has a distinct tingling sensation when chewed. This herb has been used for centuries to alleviate toothaches, but it also has many other medicinal properties.
The numbing effects of spilanthes can help alleviate sore throat, gum infections, and mouth ulcers. Its anti-inflammatory properties can be used topically to alleviate skin irritations, wounds, and insect bites. Some other uses include stimulating the digestive system and improving appetite.
To grow spilanthes, sow seeds directly into the garden after the last frost. These plants prefer full sun and well-drained soil and can tolerate drought conditions. Spilanthes are perennials in warm climates, but annuals in colder areas. They germinate within a week as long as the temperatures are warm enough. They will begin to flower after about six to eight weeks, and will continue to bloom all summer long.
Spilanthes can be used as a natural insecticide and repels pests such as aphids, moths, and whiteflies in the garden.
Once the plant is established, I harvest the flowers, leaves, and stems two to three times during the growing season. Two plants will provide more than enough to fill my apothecary.
Holy Basil Energetics: Slightly Warming, Slightly Drying
Holy basil contains compounds that can increase blood flow to the brain, enhance the production of neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin, and improve the function of the brain cells. The herb also helps reduce stress and anxiety, which are known to impair cognitive function.
Harvest the leaves and flowers in the early afternoon or late morning after all dew has evaporated.
I stop removing the flower stalks in late summer so I can collect the dried flowers for seed. Each plant can produce hundreds of seeds. Let the flowers dry out then store the seeds in a cool dry place. Some seeds will likely fall to the ground, giving you more holy basil plants next year. It could spread fast, so beware!
Matricaria chamomilla / Matricaria recutita
Chamomile Energetics: Slightly Cooling, Slightly Drying
German Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla) is a gentle and soothing herb that has been used for centuries to promote relaxation and sleep. The word “chamomile” comes from the Greek words “chamai” and “melon,” which mean “on the ground” and “apple,” respectively. This is because the plant has a sweet apple-like fragrance when crushed.
German Chamomile is commonly used for digestive support due to its anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic properties. The herb can help relieve digestive issues such as gas, bloating, and abdominal cramps. It can also help with conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and colitis.
To grow chamomile, sow seeds directly into the garden after the last frost. Chamomile prefers full sun and well-drained soil and requires regular watering. They germinate after about two weeks and reach full bloom after about ten weeks.
Harvest the flowers in the early afternoon or late morning after all dew has evaporated. Choose flowers that are fully open and deadhead any that are wilting.
To harvest seeds, let the flowers dry out on the plant then collect the tiny seeds. Store them in a cool dry place.
Lemon Balm Energetics: Cooling and Slightly Drying
Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) is a fragrant and flavor herb that has a refreshing lemony scent. It is considered a cooling and drying herb that is often used for its calming and relaxing effects. Lemon balm is commonly used to alleviate anxiety and stress and promote restful sleep. It is believed to work by increasing the availability of the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain, which has a calming effect.
In addition to its calming properties, lemon balm is also believed to have antiviral and immune-supportive properties. It contains several compounds, including rosmarinic acid and eugenol, which have been shown to have antiviral activity against herpes simplex virus and other viruses. Some studies suggest that lemon balm may also have immune-modulating effects, which could be beneficial for individuals with autoimmune conditions.
Lemon balm is also used to support digestion. It has been shown to have carminative effects, which means it can help relieve gas and bloating. It may also help stimulate the production of digestive juices, which can aid in the breakdown and absorption of nutrients.
To grow lemon balm, sow seeds directly into the garden after the last frost. Lemon balm prefers partial shade and well-drained soil and requires regular watering.
Lemon balm, like other plants in the mint family, will take over a garden and yard. I recommend planting lemon balm in containers and away from garden beds. A few years ago, we planted lemon balm in a small area along one of our fences and now it is everywhere, in every garden bed, and even in the lawn. It’s not a terrible problem to have if you love lemon balm, but it can become invasive and choke out other plants.
Harvest the leaves and flowers after the plant is about six inches tall. They are best used fresh because lemon balm’s essential oils are very sensitive to heat and light. Dried lemon balm can last a few months in an airtight container kept out of the sun.
Harvest the flowering tops before they go to seed to help prevent lemon balm from spreading.
If you want to harvest seeds from lemon balm, let the flower stalks dry out on the plant. Carefully collect the seeds and store in a cool dry place. Some seeds will likely drop to the ground, giving you more lemon balm plants next year!
Hello and welcome! My name is Kate and I am an herbalist and backyard farmer. If you are a beginner herbalist or just looking for information on plants, I write about gardening, natural remedies, and herbalism.