15+ Stunning Medicinal Flowers That You Should Try Growing In Your Garden

Calendula (Calendula officinalis) (A)

 

One of the more multi-purpose flowers you can have in your garden is calendula. It’s a medicine, it’s a pest deterrent, it’s edible and it’s beautiful! (It’s related to the common marigold and looks very similar to it, but it’s Calendula officinalis that we’re talking about here.) When taken internally as a medicine, it’s good for sore throats and menstrual cramps. When applied topically to the skin in salves or lotions, its antibacterial qualities are great for healing cuts. I almost always include Calendula flowers when I make my healing salves!

Echinacea (Echinacea spp.) (P)

 

Echinacea grows in fields or ditches out by where live, but I always keep a nice patch growing somewhere in my yard as well. Its beautiful pale purple petals will attract many beneficial pollinator friends into your garden. Medicinally, the root is usually what people use, but I have heard of many people using the leaves and flowers as well. It is well known for boosting the immune system, as well as being great for flus and colds. (My own experience has proven that it is much more effective if taken BEFORE you get sick!)

Sunflower (Helianthus spp.) (A)

 

Sunflower’s giant heads always remind me of driving through Kansas a child. On those long road trips, we would usually have a large pack of the salted seeds to munch on as we drove. I had no idea that our snack was high in Vitamin E and was also a good source of B1, manganese, magnesium, B6 and niacin.  A poultice made from its leaves is said to be good for insect bites as well!

I like to grow a few sunflowers sparingly throughout my garden, mostly to create relief shade for shorter crops below. Once you grow sunflowers in your garden, you will probably not need to plant them again as the birds and gravity will take care of re-seeding for you. That said, keep in mind what I learned the hard way: don’t grow small-headed and large-headed sunflowers in your garden at the same time. The latter will most likely grow much smaller-sized flowers next season due to cross pollination.

Rose Hips (Rosa rugosa) (P)

 

Next time you stop to smell the roses, check to see if any rose hips are growing at the end of their thorny branches. If so, come back around fall (or early winter) and harvest some of the dark pink or reddish fruit, which are the rose hips. They’re high in vitamin C, and are commonly used for treating colds and flus. I usually find them still on the rose bushes even after most of the leaves have fallen, making them a sweet (but seedy) treat on a chilly day.

Lavender (Lavandula spp.) (P)

 

Lavender’s tiny purple blooms are favorite stopping places for pollinators in my garden. Sometimes, I wonder if they are actually looking for pollen, or if they’re just seeking out its well-known, relaxing scent to take the edge off their busy days. If you have problems falling asleep, try placing a few leaves or flowers by your bed. My wife and I put lavender essential oil in our daughter’s bath water before her bedtime, and it works every time.

Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) (P)

 

I know what you’re thinking: “Dandelion?! Well, That’s a weed!”. Technically, you would probably be correct, as a “weed” is considered to be ANY plant that’s growing where it “shouldn’t be”. Before you go yanking it out of the ground, take the time to go get a shovel instead. Dandelion root is a great medicine used for many ailments, including upset stomach, and gall stones. It’s also used as a liver detox, and has antibacterial qualities too! Though the root is typically the part sought after by most, the whole plant can be used medicinally.

During the years following prohibition, dandelion wine was slightly more “socially acceptable” due to its medicinal value. As an added bonus, the flowers and leaves are edible. (I recommend letting the leaves soak in salty water 20 minutes before use.) One last argument against “weeding” this wonderful medicine: dandelion is a wonderful companion plant around your fruit trees. Its long tap root draws up nutrients from far below the surface, and deposits those nutrients at ground level when it dies back in the fall.

Mullein (Verbascum thapsus) (Biennial)

 

Since we already mentioned one “weed”, I thought we’d mention another one of my favorites: Mullein. I search out first-year mullein every season, and transplant a few somewhere in my garden. I get more questions about this large plant than any other herb I grow in my garden! Mullein is a biennial, meaning it flowers its second year and then dies off. Its large, fuzzy leaves have expectorant properties: great medicine for your lungs.

A few pieces torn off just one leaf and made into an infused tea can help you rid yourself of excess phlegm in your lungs. Native Americans used to smoke mullein for this same reason. I also add it into my different “smoking blends” I make for this very same medicinal purpose. During mullein’s 2nd year, it grows a tall middle stalk that is covered in yellow flowers. If you collect these flowers, steep them in olive oil and leave the jar in the sun for a week or so, you will have made a great medicine for treating ear aches.

Bee Balm (Monarda spp.) (P)

 

As its name suggests, bee balm will definitely help attract bees to your garden! Its slightly strange-looking flower, as well as its leaves and stems, are all medicinal. The leaves have a slight oregano scent when bruised. I collect the flower heads to make into a healing salve, but leave just enough to keep my pollinator friends around.

Bee balm is used for its antiseptic qualities, as a carminative (to help relieve flatulence), and as a diuretic (helps urination.) It is also a nice addition to herbal infused teas. Try mixing it with a bit of lemon balm and a drop of honey! Take note that bee balm is in the mint family, so it will spread pretty quickly if allowed to.

Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) (P)

 

Yarrow is a pretty easy plant to grow and will spread well if happy. Its tiny, clustered flowers attract parasitic wasps, which will lay eggs on hornworms and other caterpillars munching on your garden. Yarrow makes yellow, white, red, or pink flowers and its ferny leaves are a nice change among the solid-leafed garden plants. Whenever I have a fever, I pinch a bit of fresh (or dried) Yarrow and pack it into my lip for about 20 minutes. Some people would prefer a tea instead of this method, as it does taste a bit bitter.

Jewelweed (Impatiens capensis) (A)

 

This wonderful plant is usually found near springs or along water’s edge. Jewelweed is my ultimate go-to for itchies. If you find a patch growing, remember where it is the next time you get poison ivy! I harvest jewelweed in mid-June (here in Arkansas) and add in into witch hazel to make an “Itch-B-Gone” liquid that works wonderfully! You can also rub the raw leaves on insect bites and dermatitis.

Jewelweed can be tricky to grow, as it really likes moist conditions. I have grown it successfully on the shady north side of my house in wicking buckets for many seasons. This method not only helps me to keep fresh leaves/flowers on hand, but it lets my jewelweed grow for much longer than it normally would during our hot, dry summers.

Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium) (P)

 

Feverfew is one of the first herbs I learned to identify as a child, as it had the classic flower appearance. The white petals around a yellow center commonly cause it to being mistaken for a Daisy. Medicinally, as its name suggests, it has been used for fevers. It will also help to relieve swelling from bites and stings, making it a perfect addition to any garden. A tea made from its leaves can also help to fend off migraine headaches.

Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata) (P)

 

The first time I saw a passionflower, I had to take a picture of it. It was the craziest-looking flower I had ever seen, and I had absolutely no idea what it was. I harvest its leaves and flowers for their excellent calming effect. Most folks make a tincture out of the herb, but I enjoy adding it into a smoking blend. I mix it with dried sassafrass, lemon balm, and mullein to help me relax after a hard day’s work. Passionflower is also an excellent anti-spasmodic, and is said to be an aphrodisiac as well.

If you find some passionflower growing wild somewhere, it’s be best to leave it where it is and come back for it later. I discovered that its deep tap root doesn’t respond well if you cut or break it in any way. It also really likes to climb, so give it a tomato cage or trellis. If you don’t harvest the flowers, a small lemon-sized passionfruit will grow. It is delicious if picked at the proper time, if you don’t mind chewing through all the tiny seeds. Wait until the fruit begins to have a brown paper bag texture, and then it’s ready to harvest.

Elderberry (Sambucus nigra) (P)

 

I have always heard rumors of elder flowers and berries being linked to the fountain of you. Elder does help boost your immune system, alleviate sciatica pain, and is used to fight chronic fatigue syndrome. Treating all of those might help you to feel younger! The large cluster of small flowers creates a beautiful fleurette near the tops of the branches. Remember, this is a tree that can reach 12 feet or taller, so make sure to plant yours somewhere it will have room to grow. Elder is incredibly easy to clone with branches and root powder, though. Its berries are high in flavonoids, vitamin C and A, betacarotene, iron and potassium.

Remember, when harvesting the berries, make sure to only harvest the dark purple ones. The unripe ones will probably cause gastric distress. I have a few elderberry trees growing near my garden. It’s a race every year to get the ripe berries before the birds do. I recommend planting a few mulberry trees as a trap crop nearby, to lure the birds away. If you can beat the birds to those berries, I definitely recommend making your own elderberry wine. It has a delicious flavor, as well as numerous health benefits!

California Poppy (Eschscholzia californica) (A)

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I have several California poppy varieties in my garden. Some are large petaled, and some have wispy “fingers” ranging in color from red to pink, purple, and even yellow. If you ever succeed in growing a few poppies, you will not have to worry about planting the following season. Hundreds of tiny seeds inside each pod are quite good at re-seeding themselves.

The large, beautiful flowers don’t last long—usually only about 2 weeks. After the petals fall, the poppies make pods, which are the medicinal parts to harvest. I usually crush 3-4 ping-pong-sized pods into a tea when I am in pain, or need a good night’s rest. Make sure to not harvest the pods until the tiny “windows” near the top are open.

Comfrey (Symphytum officinale) (P)

 

Comfrey’s long tap root helps to bring up nutrients from far below the surface to its leaves, dropping them in fall to become a nutrient- rich mulch. For this reason, I always plant it beneath my fruit trees. Be warned though: if you decide you don’t want your comfrey where it’s growing, its long tap roots will break off and grow back anyway. Comfrey is a favorite among pollinators as well. Its slightly prickly leaves can be used to make a poultice for stings. I always include dried comfrey leaf in my healing salves and soaps for its anti-inflammatory properties, and because it’s good for many different skin conditions.

Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla) (P)

 

Chamomile’s ferny leaves and fragrant flowers make it one of my favorite medicinal flowers. Harvesting the little blooms can be a bit daunting, but special chamomile combs (and even electronic combs) can be used to make it much quicker. The herbal tea is very soothing and can help with muscle spasms and insomnia. Chamomile responds well to pruning, so pop off the flowers as often as they are ready.

Spilanthes (Acmella oleracea) (P)

 

The “electric daisy” is one of the most interesting and useful herbs that I have ever grown! Anyone who has ever dared to put their tongue to a 9-volt battery as a kid can tell you that chewing on this flower feels very similar. (It doesn’t hurt, but it’s definitely an “experience”, hahaha!) It is also known as the “toothache plant” because besides the electric sensation it causes, it will completely numb a bad tooth (or your tongue). I dry the flower heads to use for any toothaches during the cold months when my plant had gone dormant. (The dried heads begin to lose a bit of their tingle after a while.) I like asking people visiting my garden if they’re feeling adventurous. If they say they are, we both chew on a flower and see who lasts longest!

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