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How To Grow Motherwort

By Barbara Fahs ; Updated September 21, 2017

Motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca) is a biennial herb used for many conditions, especially those affecting women. It’s native to Europe, although one variety, Siberian motherwort (Leonurus sibiricus), hails from Siberia, China and Tibet. All varieties are attractive plants in the mint family that sport leaves that are “deeply and palmately cut into five lobes, or three-pointed segments,” according to Botanical.com. In its second year of life, motherwort sends up a flower spike that can grow to 5 feet tall and that contains literally thousands of seeds, which often self-sow and give you more motherwort plants the following season. It is adaptable to many climate zones.

Sow seeds in nursery pots, flats or directly into your garden. If you start them in pots, fill pots almost full with potting soil. Then sprinkle a few seeds on top and cover with ¼ inch of soil. To start seeds in the ground, choose an area with full sun, clear any weeds and then dig in some organic compost. Next, scatter your seeds and cover them with ¼ inch of soil or compost mixture.

Maintain a temperature of 70 degrees Fahrenheit—germination will occur within one to two weeks. Keep young plants well watered and make sure they get plenty of sunlight.

Thin seedlings to 1 foot apart if you planted seeds in the ground. If you started them in pots, thin the weaker, smaller plants when they are 1 or 2 inches tall. This makes it easier to transplant the hardy plants into the garden later.

Transplant 4-to-6-inch seedlings into the garden after your final spring frost. Leave 1 foot between plants. Water your plant(s) every two to three days until they grow larger and can withstand a drier environment. After motherwort is established, it can be quite drought tolerant.

Start more plants from cuttings after your motherwort reaches 1 to 2 feet tall.

 

Things You Will Need

  • Motherwort seeds
  • Small nursery pots or flat
  • Potting soil
  • Sun
  • Water
  • Compost
  • Garden space

Tips

  • Motherwort attracts many beneficial insects, so it makes a valuable contribution to your garden in more ways than simply its healing properties.
  • Don't worry if the leaves turn red in the fall: this is normal. This plant will survive the winter in most areas, but you can help it by spreading a layer of leaves or other mulch in the fall.
  • To prevent motherwort from self-seeding and creating more plants than you want, harvest the flowering stalks when they are in bloom, before seeds are fully formed.
  • The entire plant is used medicinally. August is a good time to harvest and dry your plant(s).
  • In olden times, motherwort was used for "gladdening the heart."

Warning

  • Always check with your doctor if you are considering using any medicinal plants or herbs.

About the Author

 

Barbara Fahs lives on Hawaii island, where she has created Hi'iaka's Healing Herb Garden. Fahs wrote "Super Simple Guide to Creating Hawaiian Gardens" and has been a professional writer since 1984. She contributes to "Big Island Weekly," "Ke Ola" magazine and various websites. She earned her Bachelor of Arts at University of California, Santa Barbara and her Master of Arts from San Jose State University.