5 Herbs That Are Best Purchased As Plants

5 Herbs That Are Best Purchased As Plants

What Herbs Should I Buy Instead Of Starting From Seed?

By , about.com

Why, you might wonder, would someone want to avoid starting herbs from seed? This is such a great way to start your herb garden for pennies. Starting an herb garden from plants, is also a good way to start. In my garden, all the herbs that are purchased instead of started as seeds, fall under these areas:

  • They are fussy to start from seed (I am a busy, impatient gardener)
  • They don’t have a snowball’s chance of growing to any useful size in my zone (which is why a good nursery is always so important)
  • They are perennial, and I am only going to grow a single plant
  • I need to replace an established perennial

1. Rosemary

Rosemary is one of those herbs that demands attention. Unless living in a Mediterranean zone, Rosemary needs to be able to come and go in the outdoor environment according to the temperature. This is not as difficult as it seems. In my garden, my rosemary gets planted pot-in-pot, so I can move it inside when we get our endless rains, and back to the garden until the fall temperatures start to loom.Rosemary plants just make sense. They can be matched for size and shape, and if you (like me) kill one, it is simple enough to pop out and replace with a fresh, new plant.

2. Lemongrass

Lemongrass, and herbs like it, should be purchased as plants. They are fussy and sensitive to temperature fluctuation, so for many of us growing lemongrass would be nearly impossible.

Buy these as small plants, and enjoy them throughout the season. They tolerate sun to partial shade and make wonderful focal points. We buy trays of lemongrass, and keep them in the greenhouse. That way, they can be harvested all season without worry that our crazy Nebraska weather will harm a leaf.

Lemongrass is great when used right from the freezer, so grow some if you can find the plants. Once fall hits, bring them in and freeze whole.

3. Lavender

Lavender is such a beloved herb, it is frustrating for many gardeners to struggle growing it from seed. Although not impossible, why bother when there are so many plants available?

Buying lavender as plants, also allows you to select the varieties that are proven to grow well in your location. I also recommend buying a LOT of plants. Lavender always looks better in groupings, and buying them at the same time will ensure your plants are the same size.

4. Beebalm

Bee balm and other ornamental herbs, are best purchased as plants. Why take a chance on growing the wrong variety, or something that won’t thrive in your location? Ornamental herbs are the quintessential reason for shopping at nurseries to begin with. Choose plants that your nursery owner recommends. They will guide you to the colors, and types of plants that will have the best chance of survival.

5. Medicinal Herbs

Medicinal herbs, which for this article refer to actual herbs that are grown for their healing property, should be grown from plant unless the gardener is familiar with herbal medicine. There are many wonderful places to buy medicinal herb plants. Start with a small garden of purchased plants, and as your skill grow (see how I did that?), you can then start identifying herbs that might be grown from seed or found in the wild.

I like to buy medicinal herbs that are possibly expensive for me to kill. This means I will take much better care of a purchased plant, than I would a few seeds in the soil.

Natures Therapy

Natures Therapy

Most medicinal herbs contain many natural compounds that play off one another, producing a wide variety of results. Even medical science does not always understand how the compounds work together, or even exactly what they all are. As botanist Walter Lewis, Ph.D., and microbiologist Memory Elvin-Lewis, Ph.D., put it in their book Medical Botany: “Nature is still mankind’s greatest chemist, and many compounds that remain undiscovered in plants are beyond the imagination of even our best scientists.”

Some herbs that regulate the body almost seem to have an inner intelligence, with the ability to perform many different functions, depending upon what the individual needs. For example, ginger can raise or lower blood pressure, depending on what needs to happen to bring an individual’s blood pressure to a healthy level. And tonic herbs do more than clear up immediate, acute symptoms-they have the more general effect of renewing strength and vitality. Marshmallow, for instance, strengthens your digestive system and improves the functioning of your immune system while relieving your stomach distress.

Although 80 percent of pharmaceutical drugs are based on herbs, these drugs are generally based not on the whole herb but on one “active ingredient” derived from a plant. Modern medicine has become captivated by what it calls a “magic 0bullet”-a single substance that zeros in and destroys a germ or relieves a symptom. Whenever possible, the chemical structure of the active component found in an herb is duplicated in the laboratory and produced synthetically. This enables a drug company to produce formulas of consistent quality and strength and avoid the hassle and expense of collecting plants in the wild. (Not incidentally, it also enables them to patent the remedy and charge more money for it.)

These magic bullet drugs have several problems. First, they treat only specific problems. Well-known plant researcher and botanist James Duke, Ph.D., points out that “the solitary synthetic bullet offers no alternatives if the doctor has misdiagnosed the ailment or if one or more ailments require more than one compound.” Herbs, on the other hand, can cover many bases at once.

Also, magic bullets don’t give the body a chance to find its own solution. Dr. Duke theorizes that our bodies take fuller advantage than we realize of the complex chemistry in medicinal herbs. He believes that each herb contains hundreds of active compounds, many of which act “synergistically.” That means that all these compounds somehow combine to produce a greater effect than each has alone, and that the body extracts the compounds it needs and discards the others. One possible reason that scientific studies sometimes fail to confirm an herb’s traditional use in healing is that the studies often focus only on the isolated compound, not on the whole plant.0

Years ago, researchers extracted an active compound called silymarin from the herb;milk thistle and turned it into a pharmaceutical drug to treat liver damage. Only later did German scientists discover yet another compound in milk thistle betaine hydrochloride-that may be equally important.

The popular immunity-enhancing herb Echinacea has a similar story. For years, complex carbohydrates from Echinacea were thought to be its sole active ingredient and were extracted to produce a drug. But then a team of German researchers headed by Dr. Wagner discovered that;echinacea contains other compounds that enhance immunity.

In the case of the sedative herb valerian, medical researchers found that two compounds-valeric acid and essential oils-caused its calming effects, but for some time they remained unaware of still a third set of highly sedative compounds called valepotriates. And ginkgo, which is used to boost brain functions and circulation, has been found to be more effective when used in its whole form instead of its isolated active compounds.

Calendar of the Sun for December 3rd

Calendar of the Sun

3 Yulmonath

Mengloth’s Day

Color: White
Element: Earth
Altar: Upon cloth of white place a figure of Mengloth, cut from cloth and filled with herbs, a cup of herb-fortified wine, a pot of herbal tea with cups, a mortar and pestle, and bunches and jars of all the medicinal herbs in the House.
Offerings: Give natural medicine to someone.
Daily Meal: Anything healthy and well-balanced.

Invocation to Mengloth

Hail, Lady of Lyfjaberg,
Mistress of Gastropnir,
High on the highest peak
In the pure air of the north country
Atop snowy cliffs you dwell.
Lady whose roads are long and winding,
Lady whose roads are treacherous and fell,
Lady whose hidden fortress is sought
By the weak, the ill, the desperate,
Those whom all medicine has failed.
Lady of the Last Resort,
Healer of the wounds that cannot be healed,
This offering we make to you
And all the maidens that cluster around you;
Hlif and Hlifthrasa, Thjofvara, Aurboda,
Bjort and Bleik, Blith and Frith,
Colleague of Eir the Healer of Asgard.
We pray your healing hands, Jeweled One,
We pray your healing mind, Mountain-High,
We pray your healing magic shall shape us whole.
Svipdag’s beloved, Keeper of the Wand of Light,
May your favor shine upon us
As we ascend to the trials of your high road.

(The wine is poured out as a libation. Each comes forward then and pours a cup of the herbal tea, asking for healing for themselves or others, and drinks it.)

[Pagan Book of Hours]