top of page

Tips for Planting a Medicine Garden

Tips for  Planting a Medicine Garden

When I first started exploring medicinal herbs, I began by foraging them around our property. It didn’t take long before I realized that many things often considered weeds in our garden could also be allies if we changed our perspective. (I’ll have an article out soon about medicinal weeds, so stay tuned for that.) As an avid gardener, the next obvious evolution was to begin cultivating medicinal herbs; thus, our first medicine garden was planted. 

While everyone’s journey looks different, this was mine. Whether you’ve started on your gardening journey, your herbal journey, or both, this article will help outline the steps to planting a medicine garden and why you should include medicinal herbs in your beds this year. 

What is a Medicine Garden?

Think of it as a blooming apothecary. In one way or another, all gardens could be considered medicinal in some way. From the therapeutic act of pulling weeds to the grounding effect of digging in the dirt to the simple beauty of gazing at it, all gardens heal in one way or another. In the more traditional sense, though, a medicine garden is a planting space filled with plants that contain substances that can be used for therapeutic or medicinal purposes. 

The Benefits of Growing Your Own Medicinal Herbs

There is no shortage to the benefits of growing your own medicinal herbs. One of the most significant advantages is having control over the quality of the herbs you use in your herbal remedies. Homegrown means you can ensure that you have access to high-quality herbs that are free from chemical pesticides and fertilizers; in the case of some medicinal herbs, like echinacea, which is at risk from over-foraging and over harvesting, growing your own means that you are helping to protect and preserve a threatened species.

By carefully selecting the herbs for your medicine garden, you can avoid having to purchase some of the more expensive or rare herbs. You can also reduce the need to buy other products such as balms, teas, tinctures, and salves. Additionally, growing a garden of any kind offers you a chance to connect with nature while enjoying more time outdoors. Furthermore, gardening has been shown to positively affect mental health, helping reduce stress and improve mood.

The Benefits Of Growing Medicinal Herbs Native To Your Area

Now that we’ve explored the benefits of growing a medicinal garden, I want to take a moment to discuss the added benefits of choosing to grow medicinal plants that are indigenous to your region. 

Indigenous plants have evolved to flourish in your local environment.  They often require less maintenance and care than non-native plants, which saves you time and effort. Furthermore, choosing plants naturally found in your region can help support your local ecosystem, preserve biodiversity, and build resilience in the face of a changing environment.

Another benefit is that indigenous plants often have deep cultural and historical roots in a particular area. By growing native plants, you can connect with your community's traditions and heritage while helping to preserve cultural knowledge and practices.

Should I Grow Medicinal Herbs From Seed?

The answer to that question is both yes and no. No, because a few herbs, such as rosemary and lavender, have notoriously low germination rates. Plants like these are better purchased as seedlings. Yes, because starting from seed is always cheaper than buying seedlings, and it ensures that you are getting organic and non-modified plants. It also means you can control what soil, compost, and fertilizers (if any) are used on your plants. Additionally, some medicinal herbs can be difficult to find in local nurseries. Basic herbs like thyme and peppermint are easy to locate, but others, like mullein and St. John’s wort, aren’t likely to be available. 

Things to Consider Before You Start

Before you begin planning your medicinal garden, there are a few key things to consider:

The Needs of Your Family

Before you start buying seeds, take some time to think about what you want to grow and why. It can be easy to get overwhelmed by all the fantastic plant allies out there, but you simply can't grow them all. I recommend using your family's current health needs as a starting point. For my family, respiratory issues, insect bites, heart health, and digestive maladies are some of the most common problems I wanted to address.


Next, consider where you would like to grow your medicinal herbs. This could be a sunny windowsill or a tiny balcony for apartment and small home dwellers. Larger homes may have a small patio or a big backyard. Others have acres to love and grow. Whatever your situation, choose a manageable growing place for your space. 

Garden Space

Many medicinal herbs and flowers are perennial. This means they come back yearly, often bigger and better every season. Though not technically perennial (such as chamomile or calendula), others are highly prolific, reseeding themselves year after year until they take over a space. 

Testing Testing

One of my favorite Vloggers, Jess Sowards of Roots & Refuge Farm, always says, “Let your waiting room be your classroom.” I’ve always found this to be some of the best advice around. If you have the time before your season starts, order a small amount of each of the herbs you’re interested in and test out some remedies and recipes. This process can help you focus on which herbs deserve a spot in your garden plot. 

Make a List and do Your Research

Once you’ve determined your family's needs, where you want your garden to be, and which recipes will become a permanent part of your home apothecary, it’s time to list everything you would like to grow. 

Now it’s time to research. You’ll need to find the growing needs and space requirements of each herb on your list. Some herbs require the same growing conditions, and you can group them in a single bed. Others will require differing amounts of water, sunlight, or soil conditions and must be planted accordingly. A few you may find can’t be grown in your area and will need to be eliminated from your gardening list. 

Another thing to consider is what part(s) of the plant plan to use. If something is being planted for its roots, plan on digging them up at harvest time. Knowing you must dig them up may mean you do not want other plants too close.

Decide How You Want to Plant

You’re well on your way to a medicine garden now. Next, you want to consider whether you will plant a dedicated medicine garden or a single medicinal bed or mix them into your existing garden plans. In our garden, we have plants that like to spread and take over (like mullein and yarrow in their own beds. We intermix others (like borage and calendula) with our vegetable crops as companion plants. Things like mint and lemon balm have a reputation for taking over spaces, so we have them in large pots around the garden so they stay contained. 

Some of Our Favorite Medicinal Herbs to Grow

Every budding herbalist should have helpful herbs on hand for aiding in the most common ailments, such as healing colds, settling stomachs, and soothing skin. Of the hundreds, if not thousands, of medicinal herbs out there, these are our favorites to grow: 


I actually used Borage as a pest-repelling companion plant long before I knew it had medicinal uses. Now, thanks to its antioxidant and expectorant properties and beneficial omegas, we give a lot more space to Borage in our garden.

Calendula is a must-have for any medicinal garden. It's helpful for skin ailments from minor burns, wounds, and rashes. It’s a top ingredient in skin soothing and skin nurturing remedies like our Anti Aging Night Serum and our Calendula Salve


Chamomile is another essential herb, beyond being the world’s most famous cup of tea. It can soothe cramps and nausea, calm a troubled mind, and bring rest to the restless. Chamomile flowers are also used externally to help with eczema, acne, and diaper rash.


Echinaceas' beautiful blooms delight pollinators, but this flower is more than a pretty face. With its antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, and immune-boosting properties, it’s a virtual medicine cabinet all on its own. One thing to note, however, is that it needs to be established for two to three years before harvesting.

Lemon balm is as helpful in the garden as it is in the apothecary. Prized in the garden as an insect repellent, this mint family member has been used for centuries to ease the heart and boost moods. You can find it in our Apothecary as a tincture. Since lemon balm is in the mint family, it will spread if not maintained. Always plant them in pots, not directly in your beds, for best results.  

Lavender is one of those quincuncial herbs for any garden, and doubly so for a medicinal garden. The fragrant blooms are lovely in lotions, soaps, salves, and creams. The flowers are also edible and can be used to make medicinal tinctures and desserts, drinks, teas, syrups, and more.


When it comes to the mint, less is more since it is so prolific. I recommend only growing mint in containers or pots to ensure it doesn't take over your garden. Mint has a long history of aiding digestion, helping with headaches, and reducing fever and congestion.

Mullein is a favorite of mine. It grows wild around our property, but we also have a few in the garden proper. Since it tends to favor poor soil, place it in beds that may need conditioning, and after a few seasons, the soil will be much more workable. This plant is often referred to as nature's cough suppressant, and it is the perfect partner for respiratory issues.  


Good news: This one has a dual purpose! It is an essential partner in the kitchen and also fits in the medicine cabinet. Oregano is known for being an antibacterial, antiviral, and antiseptic herb with powerful antioxidant properties. It has been used to help with infections, psoriasis, stomachaches, and respiratory issues and support immune health.

Yarrow was the first plant I identified and foraged from our property, and it’s the main ingredient in many of our salves. Since we work with it so much, we grow it in the garden as well as wild forage it. As an anti-hemorrhagic or styptic herb, it can be used to stop bleeding almost instantly, so you’ll want to have it around to treat cuts and minor wounds. 

Harvesting and Storing Your Herbs

When it comes to harvesting your herbs, timing is key. Different herbs have different ideal harvesting times depending on which part of the plant you will be using. 


For best results, always harvest medicinal herbs at their prime. When harvesting leaves and flowers, cut them early in the morning after the dew has dried. For roots, harvest the plants later in the season. 


One of the most popular ways to store herbs is to dry them first. To dry your herbs, you can hang them upside down in a warm, dry place or use a dehydrator. I find that I prefer my herbs hang-dried to dehydrator-dried, so I always plan ahead to have the time I need to dry them before processing and using them. Drying time will vary depending on the type of herb, but typically takes anywhere from a couple of days to a couple of weeks. 

Once your herbs are dried, it is important to store them properly to prevent spoilage. Store dried herbs in airtight containers in a cool, dry place, away from direct light and heat. Dried herbs can be kept for up to a year before they begin to lose potency. 

Beginning Your First Medicinal Herb Garden

Like any gardening endeavor, a medicinal garden is as much about the journey as the destination. There will be successes and failures, but some of our greatest mistakes can lead to triumph. As you grow your medicinal herbs, you will also be growing your medicinal knowledge. If you’re starting a medicinal garden this year (and we hope you are), tell us what plants you’re most excited about and why in the comments below, and as always, until next time,

Sign off


Content from is meant to be informational in nature and is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice. Remember that just because something is “natural” does not always mean it is safe for every person. When it comes to herbal medicine, many plants should be avoided when pregnant or nursing and some can cause extreme interactions with prescription and over-the-counter medicine. 

While we strive to be 100% accurate, utilizing information from scientific studies, trusted sources, and verified publications, we are not health professionals, medical doctors, or nutritionists. It is solely up to the reader to verify nutritional information and health benefits with qualified professionals for all edible plants listed on this website and to ensure proper plant identification. 

The information provided by this site is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Before using herbal preparations, always research, speak to a professional regarding any significant concerns, and never fail to seek medical advice when needed.

Tips for Planting a Medicine Garden

bottom of page