Grow your own container pharmacy with these herbs known for their medicinal properties
In ancient infirmary gardens, herbs would have been planted together in drifts, depending on the conditions they liked and also what they could provide medicinally. Classic varieties would have included chamomile, lavender, lemon balm, sage, thyme, yarrow, calendula, bay and Damask roses, also known as the ‘apothecary’s rose’, which can all make beautiful balms, bath soaks, flower waters and other health-giving elixirs.
These medicinal plants are easy to get hold of as potted plants at garden centres, and enjoy living in containers as they like free-draining soil. But they do like plenty of depth for the roots to roam. Fill two to three medium-sized pots or a large window box with crocks for drainage before filling halfway with peat-free soil mixed with a little grit. Knock the herb out of its pot and plant so the top of the soil is just under the rim of the pot and press more soil in and around it. Water well.
Choose a spot in full sun on a doorstep or balcony. These herbs will also cope with being indoors on a sunny windowsill too but may require more water and regular turning so they don’t become misshapen.
When harvesting, always pick your herbs early in the morning and use them fresh, or dry them for later use. Infuse oil with lavender flowers over a Bain Marie for cakes and bakes, scatter dried calendula petals into oil for skin creams and add rose petals to syrups for summer cocktails.
And don’t worry about the weeds! It’s worth including a ‘wild pot’ too, with nettles, dandelion or chickweed if you can. These can be turned into vitamin-rich teas and soups.
Not sure what to do with your herbs, head over to The Handmade Apothecary for gorgeous homemade remedies and recipes for herbs and other foraged plants like these.