Hello fellow Gardeners and Herbal Enthusiasts!
I just noticed it is almost March, time to shake off winter and get to planting seeds. Medicinal herb seeds sometimes take longer to germinate as a lot of them are herbaceous perennials. So if you are planning to start an herb garden this year now is the time to order seeds and start planting.
In the next coming week I will be seeding one of our new varieties the luxurious, delicate and helpful Meadowsweet. Filipendula ulmaria from the Rosacea family is one of my favorite Latin names and roughly translates to pendulous threads and elmlike leaves.
This is a gorgeous plant and gets apt names like queen of the meadow. I am growing it this year not only for its graceful red stems, dark green leafs with downy white undersides and delightful soft scent of the white flowering cymes but also for its myriad of medicinal and practical uses.
Meadowsweet contains Salicylic acid which is used as an anti-inflammatory and a painkiller. Its' derivative is in products like Advil but also more recently many skin care companies are putting Salicylic in their remedies for acne and moisture retention in skin. Other plants that contain Salicylic acid are Willow trees and the endangered Slippery Elm. Consider planting Meadowsweet as it is a smaller more compact perennial herb and a sustainable option instead of purchasing Slippery Elm which is over harvested and also endangered by Dutch Elm Disease in North America.
The flowers of Meadowsweet can be used in culinary applications, this year I am planning to add them to my rose hip jams and fruity cordials. The flowers will certainly make their way into my cut flower arrangements and I will also harvest the leaves to add to light teas for settling stomachs.
Though, I have not tried it (yet) but you can use the root in combination with a copper mordant for a natural black dye. I will definitely try this natural dye out as I love my black clothes…
Seeds of Meadowsweet need light to germinate and can take up to three weeks to germinate which is why I am starting mine now in Oregon.
They like cool conditions to germinate doing best at about 50°F or 10° C.
Since they are slow to germinate I am seeding mine in open flats of soil, I will lightly distribute the seed on top of the soil and then cover with a fine light layer of vermiculite. I like to use vermiculite on seeds that need light to germinate. This keeps the seeds on the soil surface, retains moisture for my flats but still allows light through. Meadowsweet seeds like cold stratification so instead of putting these seeds in my fridge and waiting I will just leave the sown flats outside on my porch instead of the green house.
Once your starts are all grown up plant them! They like to stay moist and can tolerate heavy clay soils and full to partial sun. Plant about 18’ apart and allow for plants to grow up to about 3 feet tall.