Garden Therapy Notes

 A Collection of Gardening Information and Inspiration

 
 

  

Native North American Plants To

 Include In Your Therapeutic Garden

 

The following plants are very easy to take care of and require very little watering assuming the season gets an average amount of rainfall. They are wonderful plants to include in a therapeutic garden because you can do research on interesting aspects of the plants and share the information that you find to broaden peoples’ knowledge and appreciation for the plants and the land that they grow on. 

 

For instance, you can find information about: 

  • Growth habit of the plant (its characteristics such as colour of flowers, when it flowers, what general form it has, how tall it grows, etc).   
  • Growing requirements (how much sunlight it needs, what type of soil is required).   
  • How to propagate the plant.   
  • Its medicinal properties (make sure you let people know to see a reputable herbalist if they are interested in using the plant for its medicinal properties).   
  • How the plant interacts with creatures like birds and insects in the area.   
  • How the plant was/is used by indigenous peoples of the area.    
  • Interesting facts like where the plant got its name.  
  • Other plant uses (good flower to dry and use in arrangements, etc.)   

For example:

 

Asclepias tuberosa - Butterfly Weed

 

 

Butterfly WeedButterfly Weed Seed Pod

 

Description 

Butterfly weed adds cheerful bright orange flowers to the garden in mid-summer. It prefers dry sandy, well drained soil. It grows 1-3 feet tall in full sun or light shade. If given lots of room, the plant will spread out horizontally. In crowded spaces, the plant tends to grow taller. In natural areas, the plant will grow in dry fields and prairies.  

Propagation 

Butterfly weed seeds need 2 months of cold moist stratification and light to germinate in late spring. The established plant can be divided in early spring or fall.  

*Medicinal Properties  

Known to be great for lung conditions such as persistent coughs. It is a great bronchodilator, anti-spasmodic, and muscle relaxant. Used for high fevers and menstrual cramping. Note that it contains cardioactive glycosides that could cause heart disturbances if taken for a prolonged period of time. It is mildly irritating to the mucus membranes and in large doses can cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.  

Observed Interactions

Monarch butterflies choose butterfly weed to lay their eggs on. The larvae are adapted to this native plant species. Butterfly weed also attracts hummingbirds and bees.

 

 

 

Aster novae-angliae– New England Aster

 

New England Aster

 

Description

 

The purple petals with yellow centres can be enjoyed in August to October. This plant grows 2-6 feet tall and will tolerate clay soil. It prefers sun and moisture where it will grow tall. If planted in dry soil and partial sun won’t grow as tall. Naturally grows in moist meadows, open woods and fields.  

 

Propagation

 

Self sows easily. Seeds mature in late fall. The plant can be divided in the spring.  

 

*Medicinal Properties

 

Heals topical skin conditions such as rashes and scrapes. Can be used as an eye wash for irritated eyes and orally for mouth ulcers. It is helpful for those ailing from sore throats or ulcers in stomach or duodenum. 

It can be helpful for respiratory infections and reduces mucus in nasal passages. It lowers fever and boosts the immune system.  

It is a good herb for improving peripheral circulation and has been known to be helpful for inflamed blood vessels. The purple flowers indicate the presence of anthocyanins which is great for the health of blood vessels.   

This herb is also calming to nervous system, reducing stress and tension. It is helpful for use in urinary tract conditions.  

 

Observed Interactions

 

Attracts bees and butterflies 

 

Other Uses:

 

Makes a great cut flower

 

 

 

Echinacea purpea - Purple Coneflower   

 

Purple Coneflower

 

 

Description

Grows 2-5 feet tall and flowers from summer to fall. Requires full to partial sun. Blooms in July and August and deadheading will encourage new blooms.  

The greek word 'echinos' means sea urchin. The name Echinacea comes from the spiny central part of the flower that resembles a sea urchin.  

 Naturally grows in meadows and prairies.   

Propagation          

Seeds need 2-3 months of cold moist stratification and light to germinate.  

*Medicinal Properties  

Echinacea is used as an immune stimulant that helps with viral colds and fevers. It is antibacterial and antiviral. It is especially good at helping the body to heal upper respiratory infections such as laryngitis and tonsillitis. It is good or runny noses. It reduces local and systemic inflammatory conditions. It has been reported to help with gingivitis when used as a mouthwash. Externally, it can help with sores and cuts. It is also known for its relaxing and detoxifying effects. 

Observed Interactions  

Butterflies and hummingbirds feed on the nectar. Small birds are attracted to the plant for its seeds. 

 

 

 

 Eupatorium maculatum - Joe Pye Weed 

 

Joe Pye Weed

 

Description

Grows 3-10 feet high. It's clusters of pink flowers boom in July and August and turn brown in the fall. It likes full or partial sun and moist areas (thought it can tolerate drought).  

Leaves are lance-shaped whorl around the stem.  

Naturally grows in marshes and wet meadows.  

Propagation

Seeds require 3 months of cold moist stratification as well as sunlight in order to germinate well. Established plants can be divided in the spring or fall. 

*Medicinal Properties

Known for treating stones in the urinary tract, for prostate conditions and gout. It contains pyroxidine alkaloids and is not recommended during pregnancy, lactation, for children under 3, seniors, for anyone with serious liver pathology, or in combo with other moderate to strong astringents. 

Other Uses

Makes a nice cut flower.  

 

Silphium perfoliatum - Cup Plant

 

Silphium perfoliatum - Cup PlantCup Plant Leaves

Description

This giant in the garden can grow 4-9 feet tall. Its yellow aster-like flowers bloom in summer into autumn. It requires full sun to partial shade. This plant spreads easily in the garden so make sure you keep an eye on it. It makes a good support for other plants because of its thick central stem.  

Leaves are opposite and form a cup shape where it meets the stem, providing a cup for water to pool for thirsty insects and small birds.  

*Medicinal Properties

Traditionally used to treat fevers and ulcers. Used for liver and spleen ailments.  

Observed Interactions

Attracts hummingbirds and butterflies. Birds such as gold finches feed on the seeds. Ambush spiders hide beneath the leaves and wait for insects to drink out of the plant's cup and then, surprise! - they get ambushed.   

 

 

Solidago Canadensis – Canada Goldenrod

 

 

 

Description

 

Grows up to 5 feet high. Its cheerful bright yellow flowers sit in terminal clusters. Blooms mid August to early October, the same time as ragweed. Many people mistakenly think that goldenrod causes hay fever, when it is ragweed that has wind-pollinated pollen that often aggravates those who have allergies. 

 

Naturally, Goldenrod grows in open dry areas. It looks very similar to Tall, Early and Late Goldenrod species. All three of these species has a single vein going down the leaf. If it has 3 parallel veins then it’s one of the 3 species mentioned above.  

Propagation 

Seeds need 2-3 months of cold moist stratification and light to germinate.   

*Medicinal Properties 

 

Great epithelial herb for bruises and rashes. It’s good to use for conditions of the urinary tract. Also good for runny noses, allergies, hay fever. It is known to boost the immune system and to lower fevers such as the measles and chicken pox. It is a diuretic and antimicrobial herb. It’s good for lymphatic conditions. It’s a vascular tonic, so good for varicose veins, hemorrhoids and arteriosclerosis. It helps with peripheral blood circulation. It’s a depurative so helps with arthritis, acne, gout and inflamed muscles. Its bitterness aids liver, gall bladder and digestive tract ailments. It helps to reduce gas and bloating.  

 

Observed Interactions 

Attracts bees and butterflies.  

 

 

 

Verbena hastata - Blue Vervain

 

Verbena hastata - Blue Vervain

 

Description

 

Grows 3-5 feet tall. The flowers are panicles of purple spikes that bloom mid- to late summer. It will flower again if you deadhead in mid-summer. It likes full or partial sun. Its leaves are opposite and lanceolate. It prefers moist to wet soil but will thrive in dry sunny areas as well. It looks very similar to Hoary Vervain (V. stricta) but the latter has hairy stems and V. hastata does not.  

Naturally grows in wet meadows and ditches.  

Propagation

Seeds need about 3 months of cold moist stratification, and require sunlight to germinate. 

*Medicinal Properties

 

An anti-viral herb that is great for digestive conditions (such as poor digestion) through increased bile flow. It is also used to treat rheumatic conditions and other inflammatory ailments of the muscles and ligaments. Those with depression and anxiety associated with the menstrual cycle can benefit from this herb. It's a calming tranquilizer and helps with stress and insomnia. Good for colds, flus, fevers and runny noses. Good topically for rashes, bites and stings. Helps with peripheral circulation.  

 

Observed interactions

 

Attracts butterflies and bees

 

Other Uses

 

Makes a great cut flower  

 

 

 

 

 

 

Veronicastrum Virginicum - Culver's Root

 

Description

Grows 3-5 feet tall. Its flowers are white and arranged in pointy tipped spikes and bloom in July and August. It requires full to partial sun.  Its 4-7 pointed lanceolate leaves are arranged in a whorl up the stem. 

It naturally grows in moist prairies and meadows.   

Propagation  

Seeds require light to germinate. Established plants can be divided in spring or fall.  

Observed Observations  

Attracts butterflies and bees.  

*We cannot take responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Every plant affects each individual differently and it is important to see a qualified herbalist before using any plant medicinally. 

 

 

Written By: Lea Tran

 

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