Whether you want to create a beautiful wildflower meadow or you want to expand your herb garden, you should try growing self-heal. This lovely mint relative is more than just a pretty plant.
Self-heal has been used for decades as medicine due to its potent antioxidant properties. There’s even been research that discovered self-heal plants could be used to treat certain herpes conditions.
If you’re here because you’re interested in growing this plant at home, you’ve come to the right place. Here’s an overview of everything you need to nurture these magical plants on your homestead.
What Are Self-Heal Plants?
The botanical name given to the self-heal plant is Prunella vulgaris. This flowering plant is found growing wild in Europe, Asia, and parts of America. You can grow this plant in USDA Hardiness Zones 6-9.
It’s also called heal-all, blue curls, brownwort, heart-of-the-earth, and thimble flowers.
The traditional method of using these flowers is drying for tea and is considered traditional medicine in China. The healing properties of this plant have been used for over 2,000 years.
In recent years, the demand for Spica Prunellae, which is the spikes from the plant, has increased. You often see the spikes made into tea.
When identifying this plant, you can spot it growing by its bold colors. Self-heal flowers are violet or blue with occasional pink petals. You can expect to see this plant blooming from June-September.
Some gardeners confuse the plant Ajuga pyramidalis with self-heal as it has similar blue petals, but they are not the same flower. Another common misconception is that Glechoma hederacea is also self-heal as it belongs to the same Lamiaceae family.
However, Glechoma hederacea plants have a darker, warmer color and the leaves are reddish when fully matured. You can identify self-heal plants by the following characteristics:
- Flowering spikes that stand upright
- Violet or blue tubular flowers
- Blooming in June-September
Some other subspecies of this plant are common self-heal (P. vulgaris spp. vulgaris) and lance self-heal (P. vulgaris spp. lanceolata). All subspecies require the same growing conditions to thrive and be healthy.
Growing Conditions for Self-Heal Plants
Self-heal plants need full sun or partial shade.
Grow this flower near other low-growing plants to avoid reducing air circulation and shading your self-heal. Plus, taller plants take the attention away from these little perennials.
Of course, soil quality is another vital factor when growing plants at home. Self-heal needs well-draining soil. That’s why this plant naturally thrives in meadows and lawns where there tends to be the best drainage.
This plant thrives in loamy, nutrient-rich soil, but it can survive in less-than-ideal conditions.
Most of us don’t have perfect soil, so create your own by adding lots of well-rotted compost to your garden. This improves drainage, breaks up clay, adds texture to sand, and adds nutrients.
In addition to well-draining soil, self-heal plants do best in cool, mild temperatures at all times during the growing process. If you have a warm snap, be sure to stay on top of watering to help support the plants.
Once you’ve created the correct soil and picked the perfect location, you can move on to the planting process.
You can find self-heal seeds easily at your local garden store or online. Sow heal-all seeds on the soil surface and gently press them in. Seeds should be at least 6-8 inches apart.
This plant can be divided in spring.
Self-heal can also grow indoors if you prefer to keep this plant inside your home. You will need a large enough container that can hold the seeds and a little extra space for them to grow. Use a gallon container at a minimum.
If you want to start your seeds indoors and transplant them outdoors later, you should prepare them as early as 10 weeks before planting them in outside.
Mature self-heal plants will reach 1-2 feet high and spread indefinitely through runners.
Caring for Self-Heal Plants
Don’t forget that self-heal is known for self-seeding, which means you could have more wildflowers scattered around your property than you bargained for. Heal-all is related to mint and it acts much the same way in the garden.
Self-heal plants are essentially wildflowers, so they know how to take care of themselves and they are easy to look after. For new plant owners, this is a great plant to try and experiment with if you want to ease yourself into the world of herbal gardening.
The only thing you have to keep an eye out for is deadheading and harvesting.
Deadheading is an excellent way to ensure the plant grows back healthy the next year and keeps your garden looking tidy. Depending on your preference, you can create a monthly routine of deadheading your flowers or just trim plants down at the end of the summer.
Or, you can approach it more flexibly and only deadhead when necessary. The choice is yours, but make sure to cut off any dead stems if they become apparent on your plant.
Thankfully, this plant is robust and doesn’t suffer from many pests and diseases, so you probably won’t have any health issues when growing this plant.
Harvesting and Using Self-Heal at Home
One of the best ways to preserve self-heal plants at home is to dry them in a cool place in your house.
To do this, when the flower is fully matured, gather the flowers, stems, and leaves and bring them indoors.
Then, gently clean them with water and allow them to air dry for several weeks. After the entire plant is dry, you can store them in a bag or jar. You must store them in an air-tight container somewhere where there’s not much light.
Self-heal can last up to nine months with the correct care if you store them in a cool, dry place.
Here’s how to use your self-heal:
As already mentioned, self-heal is a popular alternative medicine for people looking to boost their immune system and protect themselves from seasonal flu.
The easiest way to make tea with your dried self-heal is by placing 2-3 teaspoons of the leaves in a mug and pouring in hot water. Leave the teapot or cup for at least 45 minutes to let the plant release the toxins and brew for the total amount of time.
When the tea is ready, you can sprinkle in some cinnamon or honey to add a sweet taste and enjoy your hot drink.
This is an excellent tea to make at home when winter approaches and you’re worried about catching a cold. Plus, you enjoy harvesting your plant leaves and creating the tea from scratch.
If you have several self-heal plants growing at home, you can harvest lots of the leaves and flowers and make a batch of tea for friends.
You can also use the plant to make a salve.
Self-Heal Salve Recipe
A self-heal plant is perfect for making a homemade salve that will soothe bruises and cuts that you might encounter in the garden. Most of us know that taking care of many plants and bushes often leads to a few battle scars after being outdoors.
Having a small stock of medical supplies is important on the homestead.
All you need to make a self-heal salve is a harvest of your plant and 3/4 cup of oil. It doesn’t matter what type of oil you have; any option will do when making your salve.
Add 1/3 cup of self-heal plant with 3/4 of oil and let it come to a simmer. You should also add a few inches of water and leave it for a couple of hours to do its magic. Mix in 1/2 cup of infused oil and 1 teaspoon of beeswax pastilles and melt them together.
After that, pour the mixture into several jars and allow them to cool.