Labels on store-bought herbs rarely reveal how plants are raised, let alone how long the ingredients are exposed to light and high temperatures while stored in their plastic containers. Grow your own to ensure the best quality and potency of your herbal remedies.
“The primary benefit is being able to develop a relationship with that herb,” according to Jen Bredesen, an herbalist and teacher at the California School of Herbal Studies. Even novice gardeners can concoct simple home remedies such as teas and salves using Bredesen’s list of the top nine easy-to-grow medicinal herbs.
Calendula (Calendula officinalis)
Calendula is also known as pot marigold. It’s a centuries-old antifungal, antiseptic, wound-healing ally. The petals of these cheerful yellow-and-orange daisy-like flowers lend skin-soothing properties to many natural cosmetics and diaper creams.
Calendula is a freely reseeding annual that blooms all season long. It makes a lovely addition to gardens with full sun. Harvest the petals fresh. You can also dry entire blooms — which close in the evening — before they form seeds.
Cilantro (Coriandrum sativum)
Cilantro boasts a unique flavor that people either love or hate. The leaves often garnish Mexican and Thai dishes. The seeds, known as coriander, are a prime ingredient in Indian curries.
Few think of this plant as a medicinal herb, but research shows it’s a powerful digestive aid and may be capable of removing heavy metals and other toxic agents from the body.
Cilantro grows best in a cool, moist garden and will quickly bolt in hot weather. Look for slow bolt varieties from seed companies. Try this recipe for cleansing cilantro pesto.