Growing Thistle Herbs


Thistle is an old English name for a large group of plants grown mainly in Europe and Asia. It is a plant characterized by leaves with sharp prickles on the edges. The sharp thorns are also found on the stems and around the center flower. Some common names for thistle varieties include Holy Thistle, Milk Thistle, burdock and Scotch Thistle. Many thistles have medicinal value and are cultivated for this use.

Step 1

Select a sunny garden location. Dig up one shovelful of soil to check for humus content. If the soil is rock-hard or clay-like, add one shovelful of compost or leaf mold for each thistle seed bed area. Turn soil over with the shovel to aerate thoroughly.

Step 2

Place the thistle seed 1/8 inch under topsoil. Press down lightly. Space seeds 1 ½ feet apart. Water immediately to dampen the soil and promote the germination process.

Step 3

Water each day for approximately three weeks until seeds germinate.Thistles are drought resistant and rainwater is usually sufficient for growth once plants are established.The hollow inner stalk and long taproot take in water easily.

Tips and Warnings

  • Use heavy duty garden gloves when harvesting thistles, the thorns are very sharp. Thistles are strong plants which "grow like weeds" and are often classified as noxious weeds. When their food or medicinal value is not known they are likely to be eradicated.

Things You'll Need

  • Thistle seed
  • Shovel
  • Compost or leaf mold


  • Whatcom County Noxious Weed Control Board: Scotch Thistle
  • University of Maryland Medical Center: Milk Thistle

Who Can Help

  • Oregon State University Extension: Bull Thistle
Keywords: grow milk thistle, thistles, thistle herbs

About this Author

Joan Norton, M.A., is a licensed psychotherapist and professional writer in the field of women's spirituality. She blogs and has two published books on the subject of Mary Magdalene; "14 Steps To Awaken The Sacred Feminine:Women in the Circle of Mary Magdalene," and "The Mary Magdalene Within."