We all know gardening is a fun healthy outdoor activity for kids. But have you ever thought of growing plants with healing properties to teach kids about the healing power of nature? It’s a great science lesson wrapped up in physical outdoor activity.
PLANTS WITH HEALING BENEFITS
To celebrate the 75th anniversary of Ricola, the Swiss-based family company that has shared with us a list of the secret blend of herbs that it has used in its herb drops for over 75 years.
Why not get started by choosing two or three plants you like the sound of and planting them in your garden.
Horehound is a member of the mint family that produces small white flowers. It’s perennial and drought-hardy. Plant it in early spring in a sunny spot. It’s slow to germinate, so plant it shallow and keep the soil moist for the shoots to emerge. As with all members of the mint family, it’s roots are runners, so plant it in a container if you want to stop it spreading.
Benefits: Horehound invigorates the gastrointestinal tract, stimulates the appetite, promotes the secretion of bile and loosens bronchial catarrh.
Burnet is a member of the rose family, it produces pink flowers. It’s a perennial that grows to around 12″+, it prefers partial or filtered shade to full sun, in moist but well drained soil.
Benefits: Burnet soothes coughs and its astringent properties are used clear infections of the upper respiratory tract.
Speedwell is a perennial that likes full sun or partial shade. Speedwell likes moist, well drained soil. It produces bright blue long stemmed flowers. An added bonus is butterflies love speedwell. It is a creeper, so consider planting it in containers if you don’t want it to spread.
Benefits: has diuretic and expectorant properties.
Marshmallow is a perennial plant related to the hollyhock, it prefers partial sun, but can grow well in shade or full sun. Marshmallow and likes moist, damp soil. It produces delicate pale pink flowers in mid to late summer. It will grow to 36″+ so it’s worth ensuring you plant it where it won’t overshadow other plants.
Benefits: Marshmallow is antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and wound healing. It is especially soothing for irritable coughs and sore throats, as well as good for indigestion.
Lady’s Mantle is a member of the rose family. It’s a perennial that produces small bright yellow flowers. It’s drought tolerant, but prefers soil moisture. It is suitable for partial-shade or sun. It can be good ground-cover – though it can be prone to self-seeding, so needs to be kept under control.
Benefits: Lady’s Mantle is said to alleviate menstrual pain or hormonal changes due to the menopause. This herb is also anti-inflammatory and soothing for the mouth and throat.
Elder is a deciduous shrub that grows to between three and four metres. It produces small white fragrant flowers and blackberries. It likes full sun, but can grow in partial shade. It will grow in most soil types, including wet soil. Be careful where you plant it, as it spreads. It may be better to grow it in a container for this reason.
Benefits: Elder boosts the immune system and can prevent colds. The herb also encourages perspiration and reduces feverish cold and flu symptoms.
Mallow is a hardy annual shrub that can grow up to 1.8 high. It produces red, white or pink flowers in the summer. It likes moist but well-drained soil and full sunlight.
Benefits: Mallow counteracts inflammations and soothes colds and diseases of the respiratory tract. This herb also gives relief for gastrointestinal complaints and acts as a disinfectant for the mouth.
Peppermint is a hybrid of spearmint and watermint. Like other mints, it has a tendency to spread, so consider planting it in a container. It likes partial shade and fairly rich soil.
Benefits: Peppermint has disinfectant properties and gives soothing relief for colds, catarrh and hoarseness. The herb can also counteract cramps of the gastrointestinal tract.
Sage is a hardy perennial, that likes plenty of sunshine and well drained soil. It produces pretty purple, pink, white or blue flowers in the summer. The best way to grow sage is actually from cuttings rather than from seeds. Plant it near your kitchen door for easy harvesting whilst cooking.
Benefits: Sage is effective against catarrh of the upper respiratory tracts and counteracts night sweats.
Yarrow is a hardy perennial that is very easy to grow, it likes well drained soil and a sunny spot. It has fern-like leaves and produces clusters of little white flowers. It can be invasive, so be careful to keep it contained.
Benefits: Yarrow is great for healing wounds and is an anti-inflammatory. It counteracts cramps and aids digestion. This herb helps the circulation and eases varicose veins and swollen feet.
Cowslip is a semi evergreen perennial that produces clusters of yellow flowers in the spring. It likes a sheltered position in sun or partial shade.
Benefits: Cowslip stimulates the production of mucilage. Secretions become thinner and mucilage is released to give relief for tickly coughs.
Thyme is a herb much used in cooking. It’s a small perennial plant, great for growing indoors or outdoors. It likes full sun and well drained soil. Keep a pot of it near the kitchen door for easy harvesting whilst cooking.
Benefits: Thyme is an anti-inflammatory, has disinfectant properties and also gives relief from irritable coughs. This herb is also said to have a soothing effect on the nerves and to provide relief from cramps or pain during the menstrual cycle.
Plantain or to give it its latin name, plantago major, is not to be muddled up with the banana-like fruit. Plantago major is a super adaptable plant that will grow in sun or shade and in any kind of soil. It doesn’t flower, but has seed heads that shoot upwards and turn from green to brown.
Benefits: Plantain provides relief for coughs and acts as an expectorant, especially counteracting bronchial catarrh and inflammations of the throat. This herb also gives soothing relief for catarrh in the upper respiratory tract. It’s also said to to be helpful for incontinence.
KEEPING KIDS SAFE WHILST GARDENING
Of course it’s essential to keep kids safe whilst gardening, so make use of the following tips.
- Educate kids not to eat anything from the garden without checking with an adult
- Avoid chemicals and garden organically whenever possible.
- Keep sprays and fertilisers out of reach.
- Ensure kids have shade to work in on sunny days
- Make sure kids have sunscreen and a sun hat on sunny days
- Do not leave buckets of water unattended around toddlers and small children
- Don’t leave kids unattended with garden tools
Please do research carefully how to use each of these herbs for healing purposes before ingesting any part of them.
For more tips on gardening, check out our gardening series of posts.
This is a Sponsored post on behalf of Ricola.
We partnered with the brand to write this article but every word is written by us.