Keeping your household healthy is priority No. 1, but your medicine cabinet isn’t the only tool you have for your well-being. People have used medicinal herbs for millennia, and many of your familiar medicines are derived from those very same plants.
You can grow medicinal herbs in your garden, but moving plants indoors can be challenging. When you want easy yet powerful medicinal herbs for your indoor herb garden, turn to these four options.
Growing plants indoors — The basics
When you grow any plant indoors, consider these tips:
- Determine your light source — The sun’s movements will determine if you have low or high light at a certain window. North-facing windows have the gentlest (i.e., the least) light, while south-facing windows have the brightest (i.e., the harshest) light.
- Check your pots — Plants need water, but they also need aeration around the roots. Ensure your pots have good drainage for healthy root growth.
- Find an indoor fertilizer — Plants will need fertilizer made for potted plant life because the natural biome of soil isn’t present. Find an option specifically for potted plants and follow application directions.
Once you’ve got your location, water, and soil the requirements down, you can begin to grow these four easy herbs.
Lemon balm is a member of the mint family and grows well in part shade, making it perfect for an indoor pot. The sun gently warms the leaves, releasing some of the fragrant citrus-like oils, and the leaves are a beautiful shape and color. It is best grown from cuttings or live plants, so head to your local nursery or even big box store. It’s great to dry and use in a tea, or the leaves add a zesty element to salads. It has a mild sedative-like effect thought to ease anxiety symptoms in some cases.
Cut the stalk down to one set of double leaves to harvest, and the plant will quickly grow back all year long. You can also transplant it into a garden later on, and it won’t take over the way its mint cousins will.
Aloe is a succulent, most famous for its burn-soothing gel, but it’s a super-easy houseplant addition. It can grow somewhat slowly but tolerates some neglect in watering and prefers partly shaded or dappled sunlight — another perfect indoor condition.
Aloe must be in soil specifically made for succulents or cacti. You run the risk of developing root rot in normal garden or potting soil. Water once every 10 to 14 days or when the soil is dry 3 inches from the top.
Harvesting aloe is easy, as well. Use a clean, sharp pair of scissors and remove one of the bottom leaves entirely. Open the leaf and scrape out the gel to put on your skin or add to your smoothie.
Tulsi (holy basil)
Basil itself is a wonderful herb to grow indoors, but the specific version of holy basil (aka tulsi) is a sure thing. It’s a sacred folk herb in many parts of the world, and the aroma is thought to release stress. Use it in a medicinal tea for a variety of conditions, including headaches and respiratory issues.
Tulsi can be weak when started from seedlings, but keep the soil moist and temperatures consistently warm. The plant will thrive in full sun in temperate climates but appreciates some shade in tropical areas. It’s best in a south-facing window, but keep an eye on the water.
To harvest, cut the stalk down to a set of two leaves. Removing only the leaves from the plant will leave you with leggy basil. Remove the leaves and flowers for your tea.
The mint family does exceptionally well indoors as long as you keep the soil moist but never soggy. Peppermint is best in a container anyway because of its aggressive spreading habit, but it works well in a south or east-facing window indoors.
Peppermint requires consistent moisture, but you never want it to get soggy feet. Harvest mint and keep it compact by regularly cutting or pinching stems off at the site of two leaves.
You can use the stem and leaves in tea or for infusions in desserts.
What plants can be used for medicine?
Once you get into the practice of growing herbs, you’ll discover that many of your favorite plants could have medicinal uses. Plant life forms the basis of many of our medicines, and the list is hundreds of species long.
We recommend getting to know these four herbs and slowly add to your collection as you become more familiar. In some cases, not all parts of the plant are suitable for ingestion or topical use.
What are the 10 medicinal plants approved by DOH?
If you’re growing in a specific region of the world and need guidance, these are currently the 10 DOH approved medicinal plants:
- Allium sativum (garlic)
- Blumea balsamifera (nagal camphor)
- Cassia alata (ringworm bush)
- Clinopodium douglasii (mint)
- Ehretia microphylla (scorpion bush)
- Momordica charantia (bitter melon)
- Peperomia pellucida (silverbush)
- Psidium guajava (guava)
- Quisqualis indica (rangoon creeper)
- Vitex negundo (five-leaved chaste tree)
These unique herbs can add interest to your medicinal herb garden and relieve specific conditions. Always talk to your health-care professional about your medicinal herb use.
Growing what you need indoors
Just because your weather, climate, or even space prevents you from growing herbs outdoors, you don’t have to give up growing medicinal herbs entirely. Start with these four easy recommendations and expand as you have space and conditions. It’s a rewarding activity and well worth the effort.
- The 4 coolest potted plants you probably haven’t heard of
- Beyond basil and cilantro, add these unique plants to your indoor herb garden
- Here’s how often you should be fertilizing your indoor plants
- 4 of the most aromatic indoor plants
- Use these tips to start a successful indoor vegetable garden this winter