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Motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca) is a favorite herb in my garden. It comes back year after year and has many different uses. Learning how to grow motherwort in your own garden is very simple. Here are my best tips!
An overview of how to grow motherwort
This is a mint family plant, so it’s easy to grow. Motherwort is a perennial in gardening zones 3-8. Once the young plants are established in your garden, expect them to return for several years.
Motherwort can tolerate a light shade, but mine has always done best in full sun. When it is getting established it needs regular, plentiful watering, but older plants don’t mind an occasional dry spell.
Motherwort doesn’t have any special requirements. It likes regular garden soil and can adapt to a variety of soils. This herb is a good choice for beginners and experienced gardeners alike!
Choose the right type of motherwort
Did you know that there are several varieties of motherwort? In Western herbalism, Leonurus cardiaca is the preferred variety. In TCM, L. artemisia and L. sibericus are used.
Of these three varieties, L. cardiaca is the best bet for home gardeners. The other two are biennial. You’ll have to start them every two years from seed. L. cardiaca, on the other hand, comes back from the roots year after year.
Tips for starting from seed
I like to use soil blocks to start motherwort seeds in early spring. Once my plants are a few inches tall, I plant them in the garden. Motherwort does well with only a foot between plants and will form a dense mound or row when planted together.
However, you might want to allow for another 6-12 inches between motherwort and other plants so that it doesn’t crowd its neighbors. Strictly Medicinal Seeds is a good source for both the plants and the seeds.
When to harvest motherwort
Once you know how to grow motherwort, knowing when to harvest it is the next step! I prefer to harvest motherwort in early summer. This herb is at peak quality when the flowers are just beginning to open. Once the flowers open, they develop little spikes. If you wait too long to harvest, remember to wear gloves! If you forget, this plant will remind you.
This herb may also put out a second flush of growth once the weather cools down again in the fall. I live in zone 7, and often have a second motherwort harvest from my garden at the end of the summer.
Learn about the herbal uses of motherwort
Curious about how to use motherwort? Read my article Herbal Uses for Motherwort. You might also enjoy these excellent Herbal Academy articles about motherwort:
- Motherwort Through History
- Creating a Local Materia Medica with Motherwort
- Motherwort: The Plant World’s Mama Bear