Feb 19

My Top Ten to Grow


Edited: Mar 10

We'll be discussing these tonight at my house. I'll add information as we chat about them at the meeting. Check back later!



Calendula officinalis

Tips for Growing:

Very easy to grow

Annual, but reseeds nicely

Full sun best, but will do fine in part sun, also

Tolerant of most soil types

Can start early indoors, but grows just as well direct seeded anytime during growing season. I typically direct seed around May 1.

Will flower all summer and fall until hard frost if kept deadheaded.

Allow a few flowers to develop seed in the fall so it will reseed the following year.

How to Use:

Part Used: Flower, preferably as opening or newly opened. Don't use if going to seed already.

Preparations: Tincture, oil, dry

How to Use: Oh my, so many ways. The tincture has helped many local Minnesotan with SAD. I add it to immune boosting blends in the winter/flu season to "give a bit of sunshine" as well as for its antiviral properties. I've added dried calendula flowers to soups in the winter for the same reasons. Calendula oil is in most natural/organic skin care products - check it out. I add to almost all of my skin salves. The tincture has helped to settle stomach issues, possibly due to its effects on the nervous system as well as digestive, as so much of our nervous system is situated in our gut. I could go on and on. I'll write more on the calendula herb page in the forum.

Other Tips:

The stickiness of the plant is its medicine, so the stickier the better.

It is generally held that the more orange the flower, the better it is, also.

I prefer "Erfurter Orange" from Richters.


Eschscholzia californica

Tips for Growing:

Annual, but reseeds nicely

Full sun definitely best, but can do OK in part sun.

Difficult to transplant. Direct seeding around May 1 best.

Keep moist while germinating, then pretty carefree.

How to Use:

Parts Used: All parts, aerial parts while flowering, along with seed pods in all stages. Good to add root at the end of the season.

Preparations: Tinctur

How Used: one of my family's go to tincture for sleep. My grandson gave it the name "CaliPop" which is what we all use to refer to it, now. Has also helped me with generalized anxiety during the day.

Other Tips:

I've read that the orange flowered variety is most effective.



Matricaria recutita

Tips for Growing:

Very easy to grow.

Annual, but reseeds nicely

May start early indoors, but grows just as well direct seeded around mid-May.

Pick regularly for continual bloom.

Cut back when blooming ceases for another bloom cycle in a few weeks.

How to Use:

Parts Used: Flowers (yes, very time consuming to pick, but a lovely way to spend some time)

Preparations: Tincture, oil, dry

How to Use: commonly used in teas for relaxing after a hard day or in preparation for sleep. Oil made into ointment can be nice rubbed onto baby's belly if suffering from colic. Have found it useful occasionally for mild anxiety. Favorite of many herbalists - I should likely consider it more often.

Cautions: may cause allergic reaction in persons with sensitivity to pollens

Other Tips:

I prefer the Bodegold variety (Richters)



Echinacea purpurea is easy to grow in our area.

Echinacea angustifolia is native to Minnesota, but a bit more difficult to grow.

There is debate in the herbal world about whether E. purpurea or E. angustifolia are "best." My opinion - whatever grows for you is best, as something you grow and know well will "work best".

Tips for Growing:


Full to part sun

Can start early indoors or plant seed out directly as soon as soil can be worked - needs cool temps to germinate. Easiest way is to get divisions from a friend or purchase at plant sales or greenhouse.

Echinacea is a prairie plant, so does best with average to dry soil. It does not grow as well in heavy, wet soil. Otherwise, it's pretty carefree

How to Use:

Parts Used: whole plant. I gather the different parts at their prime gathering time: Leaves before blooming, blooms when they are newly opened, seed heads when fully ripe, and roots after a hard freeze in the fall. I add them to the same jar as I gather the different parts, adding alcohol to cover as I go.

Preparations: Tincture

How to Use: Traditionally used in all sorts of illness and to prevent illness. However, it is best to use it only if exposed to or at the beginning stages of illness, to avoid keeping your immune system at ongoing high alert. More on that on the "Echinacea page" - will hopefully get to soon.

I use echinacea, myself, in cases of strep, along with spilanthes. I have also had success in controlling my symptoms of Lyme with this same combo. Let me know if you want more information about either. Too much to take up space here. This page is about growing, after all...

Other Tips:

Echinacea purpurea is available at many local greenhouses.

Echinacea angustifolia may be found at local sales by groups promoting native plants or greenhouses that sell native prairie plants. Great local group here is Wild Ones - they have an annual plant sale in May.

There are many new cultivars of Echinacea more worthy of being a landscape plant. I do not use these newer cultivars for making herbal remedies; I've found that the original cultivar simply works nicest for me. Feel free to grow whatever you want in your gardens, of course, but to make "medicine", I encourage using the plain purple, "old" cultivar.


Melissa officinalis

Tips for Growing:

Perennial that spreads readily so plant wisely

Full to part sun

Not picky about much anything!

Can start early indoors or plant directly outside anytime. Easy to find someone to get a transplant from, however (including me).

How to Use:

Parts Used: Aerial parts, preferably before flowering for best flavor, but anytime is fine. I try to keep mine deadheaded to keep it tastier a bit longer.

Preparations: Tincture, dry

It is best to tincture the fresh plant. It looses much in the drying process. I have found that lemon balm tends to loose it's flavor within 6 months or so, but others use it well beyond. A matter of personal choice, I guess. So I don't dry much, but find the tincture quite useful.

Uses: I often use lemon balm in combinations with other herbs. I use it in blends for encouraging sleep or to ease anxiety. In that regard, it can be useful for children who are ill too uncomfortable to sleep. Also commonly used, along with motherwort, for hyperthyroidism. It's a sweet tincture that is really quite useful. I should turn to it more!

Other Tips:

Lemon Balm will spread - both by root and seed dispersing. It will take over an area. Plant wisely


Avena sativa

Tips for Growing:



Well draining soil with regular water

I just pick up whole oat seed in bulk at the Co-op and sprinkle it on the soil, raking in lightly. Water regularly until it sprouts and then just ignore it until the seed heads form and start bending over. Then check for "milky stage". I always plant oats as it is best tinctured in its milky stage, which lasts for only 1week of the summer, so I want it readily accessible to watch for the perfect gathering time.

I'll write more about that in a post dedicated to milky oats.

How to Use:

Parts Used: Seed, at milky stage

Preparation: Tincture

Uses: Milky Oat tincture is one of my daily tinctures, used to support my nervous system which seems to be my "weak link". (It's considered by many herbalists to be a "trophorestorative" for the nervous system). I make lots of this tincture each summer.

Other Tips:

Easy to grow, but not likely worthy of being a "landscape" plant. But if you have an area that needs a nice cover plant, I would encourage planting it. Great for wildlife, too.


Achmella olerancea

Tips for Growing:

Annual, reseeds occasionally

Very easy to grow

Does great in full sun, but OK in part sun, too

Well drained soil

How to Use:

Parts: Aerial parts at any time. I always try to include some flowers - they seem most "potent".

Preparation: Tincture, oil, dry

Uses: Rub tincture on sore gums for pain relief, thus the folk name of Toothache Plant. It is very numbing. I'm currently trying the oil for pain relief (thanks to shoveling the excessive snow this winter!). Tincture combined with echinacea has worked well with strep and Lyme. Great antibacterial and antimicrobial and antiviral - all around good "anti" plant to have on hand. One of my most used tinctures.

Other Tips:

Simply a very fun and interesting plant to include in your garden. If you have kids or grandkids, it's a must, in my opinion! Its odd appearance is sure to encourage comments and its numbing sensation is such fun to try out. One can certainly feel and taste its medicine!


Hypericum perforatum

Tips for Growing


Considered a noxious weed in some areas - check your local regulations

Make certain you have the correct plant. There are several Hypericum varieties in the landscaping plants market.

Full sun best, but can grow in part sun.

Well draining soil.

Spreads nicely by seed once established

How to Use

Part Used: Flowers, some herbalists also include the top six inches of the plant when in flower. I prefer the flowers only, so pick daily when in flower, adding to my ongoing tincture or oil.

Preparations: Tincture, oil. I use both forms often

Uses: The oil is included in most of my skin salves. Tincture has proved useful with shingles and chicken pox. I use it often for nerve pain or damage. It is popular and often used to "treat" depression, especially as a OTC supplement. It is certainly an option, but I have found several other herbs to often be more effective.

Other Tips:

Frequent or longterm use can cause photosensitivity in some persons.

Do not use in conjunction with many prescription drugs, including SSRIs.


Ocimum tenuiflorum

Tips for Growing:


Can start early indoors or plant out direct after all danger of frost

Grows much like our culinary basil

Full sun best, but can be part sun

Well drained soil

There are 4 different types of tulsi.  I prefer the Krishna variety, but it is really a matter of personal taste.

How to Use:

Part Used: Aerial parts, best tasting before flowering. I keep mine deadheaded, using the trimmings to make lovely cups of tea.

Preparations: Tincture, dry

Uses: One of my favorite teas - I dry very few plants myself. This is one that I do dry - I love it! I don't use the tincture as much, but I should.

Other Tips:

This is a much beloved plant in the Ayurvedic tradition, commonly grown beside their houses and temples. I appreciate it being shared with us!



Achillea millefolium

Tips for Growing:


Easily found growing wild, but I use so much of it, that I also plant it so it can be easily available.

How to Use:

Parts Used: Upper 6-8 inches while in flower. Use while flowers are fresh and white.

Preparations: Tincture, oil, dry

Uses: One of my most used tinctures used for "the bumps and bruises of life". Used often by my grandkids- and myself! Helps to break up bruising. Also works great to stop bleeding, such as bloody nose, wounds, whatever. Another good reason to grow it close by, in your yard! I make a salve from the oil for rubbing on aches and pains and bruises, also. Several people like to make tea from the dried plant. I find it a bit too bitter for me.



I've fallen into the habit of ordering from :

Strictly Medicinal Seeds:  https://strictlymedicinalseeds.com

Richters:  https://www.richters.com

Prairie Moon Nursery: https://www.prairiemoon.com


Do you have any places you use for ordering seeds or plants? Please let us know.

New Posts
  • I have seeds left from when I was plating and am offering them for 50¢ in an attempt to recoup some of their cost. The packs of seeds are plenty for a "home" garden - the same amount (or more) than I planted. Let me know if you are interested. Astragalus Ashwagandha Anise Borage Butterfly Weed / Pleurisy Root Calamus Calendula, Erfurter Orange Chamomile, Bodegold California Poppy Codonopsis Echinacea angustifolia Elecampane 4 O'Clocks, white Goldenrod, Sweet Horehound Hyssop Meadowsweet Mignonette Spilanthes Teasel, Fullers Tulsi, Krishna
  • These are plants that are considered medicinal that I grew in my former yard in the middle of Northfield, MN, about 45 minutes south of MSP airport (gardening zone 4). * indicates plants that are currently in my new yard - I may have extras to share of those. I have not necessarily made herbal preparations with all of these. Sometimes I just grow them to see if I can! PERENNIALS  (A few are technically annuals that reseed freely) *Agrimony, Agrimonia eupatoria *Anise Hyssop, Agastache foeniculum *Arnica, Arnica chamissonis Astragalus, Astragalus membranaceus *Balloon Flower, Platycodon grandiflorus *Black Cohosh, Actaea racemosa *Blackberry Lily, Belamcanda chinensis *Blazing Star, Liatris spicata *Bloodroot, Sanguinaria canadensis *Boneset, Eupatorium perfoliatum *Borage, Borago officinalis *Bugleweed, Lycopus americanus, not the common bugleweed used in landscaping - whole different plant *California poppy, Eschscholzia californica *Catnip, Nepeta cataria Catnip, Lemon, Nepeta cataria ssp. citriodora 'Lemony'' Celandine, Chelidonium majus Chamomile, Matricaria recutita 'Bodegold'' (planting 2019) Chicory, Cichorium intybus (planting 2019) *Cinquefoil, Potentilla recta *Codonopsis, Codonopsis pilosula *Comfrey, Symphytum x uplandicum, Bocking 14 cultivar *Compass Plant, Silphium laciniatum (Cornflower, Centaurea cyanus Dianthus, fringed pink (Chinese), Dianthus superbus Dill, Anethum graveolens *Dong Quai, Angelica polymorpha sinensis Dragonhead, Dracocephalum moldavica (quite invasive, but lovely in tea) *Echinacea, Echinacea purpurea Eclipta, Eclipta alba *Elder, black, Sambucus nigra *Elecampane, Inula helenium *Feverfew, Tanacetum parthenium *Fireweed, Chamerion angustifolium *Forsythia, Chinese, Forsythia suspensa Gojiberry, Lycium barbarum (too much wildlife at my new house. Deer & rabbits would devour it) Horehound, white, Marrubium vulgare. (planting 2019) Horsemint, Monarda punctata *Joe Pye Weed, Eutrochium purpureum *Johnny Jump Up, Viola tricolor Kiss-Me-Over-The-Garden-Gate, Polygonum orientale *Lady’s Mantle, Alchemilla vulgaris *Lemon Balm, Melissa officinalis *Lobelia, Lobelia inflata (not the common landscaping lobelia) Mosquito Flower, Lopezia racemosa. (planting 2019) *Marshmallow, Althaea officinalis *Milkweed, common, Asclepias syriaca Madder, Rubia tinctoria. (planting 2019) *Bee Balm, Monarda fistulosa - wild, light purple monarda Mugwort, Artemisia vulgaris. (planting 2019) *New Jersey Tea, Ceanothus americanus. (Rabbits and deer forage - needs fencing) *Pleurisy Root, Asclepias tuberosa Poke, Phytolacca americana Rabbit Tobacco, Sweet Everlasting, Gnaphalium obtusifolium *Raspberry, Rubus idaeus Red Osier Dogwood, Cornus sericea Rhubarb, Chinese, Rheum officinale, R. palmatum Roseroot, Rhodiola, Russian, Rhodiola rosea (planting 2019) *Sage, Dan-shen Gansu, Salvia prezesalskii *Saint John’s Wort, Hypericum perforatum *Skullcap, American, Scutellaria lateriflora. Skullcap, Baikal, Scutellaria baicalensis (planting 2019) *Solomon’s Seal, Polygonatum biflorum *Spikenard, A ralia racemosa *Sweet Grass, Hierochloe odorata *Turtlehead, Chelone glabra *Valerian, Valeriana officinalis *Vervain, Hoary, Verbena officinalis *Vervain, Blue, Verbena hastata Visnaga, Ammi visnaga *White Sage, Salvia apiana *Wild Ginger, Asarum canadense Willowherb, Epilobium parviflorum (planting 2019) *Wood Betony, Stachys officinalis Wormwood, Artemisia absinthium. (planting 2019) Yam, Chinese, Dioscorea polystachya *Yerba del Lobo, Helenium hoopesii Zhi Mu, Anemarrhena asphodeloides PLANTED ANNUALLY - OR BROUGHT INSIDE IN THE FALL AND PLANTED OUT AGAIN THE FOLLOWING SPRING Ashwagandha, Vedic, Withania somnifera Basil, Sweet, Ocimum basilicum Blessed Thistle, Cnicus benedictus Calendula, Calypso, Calendula officinalis 'Erfurter Orangefarbige' Cayenne pepper, Capsicum annuum Four O’Clocks, white, Mirabilis jalapa Gotu Kola, Centella asiatica Lemongrass, Cymbopogon citratus Nasturtium, Tropaeolum minus Oats, milky seed, Avena sativa Passionflower, purple, Passiflora incarnata Patchouli, true, Pogostemon cablin Peppermint, Mentha x piperita piperita Rosemary, Rosmarinus officinalis Sage, Salvia officinalis (planting 2019) Schisandra, Schisandra chinensis Spilanthes, Toothache plant, Spilanthes oleracea Stevia, Stevia rebaudiana Teasel, Dipsacus sativus, grow as an annual, do not allow to go to seed, use root at end of 1st year. Thyme, Thymus vulgaris Tulsi/Holy Basil, Ocimum tenuiflorum
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