Self-care looks a little different for everyone. If you’re looking to indulge yourself (or your mom) this summer, one item you might consider adding to your to-do list is creating a self-care garden. Along with receiving "garden therapy" (gardening has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety), you can grow ingredients for a variety of self-care products.Then, you can make your own homemade herbal teas, natural soap, beauty products, bath bombs and more. Here are a few of our favorite plants for self-care gardens.
A wonderful perennial, lavender is easy to care for and very fragrant. Lavender likes to stay on the dry side, so plant in full sun and well-drained soil. Pick the flowerheads just before the flowers start to open when the buds are still dark purple. We recommend English lavender types.
The flowers are excellent for use in soap and other scented products, as well as in herbal tea or as a flavor for lemonade. Lavender is used in aromatherapy products specially formulated for relaxing, so it’s great to use when you’re feeling anxious or for use just before bedtime. It can also be sewn into sachets (or just placed in a small cloth bag with a drawstring) for use as a calming air freshener.
Sage is another perennial full sun-loving plant that thrives in well-drained soil. You can grow it near your lavender! Sage has been used medicinally for centuries and has anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-inflammatory properties. It’s an excellent choice for cough drops. When consumed, it can help ease upset stomachs and improve digestion. Its fragrance is also believed to sharpen memory.
Like lavender, lemon balm has a wonderful calming effect. This plant loves full sun and will tolerate a wide range of soils. You can also grow it in containers! Crush the leaves and steep to make a lemony tea that tastes great either hot or iced. Lemon balm is also wonderful for adding fragrance to bath products. It can be infused into oil for use in a variety of recipes and helps improve circulation when dabbed on your skin.
Rosemary is a shrubby Mediterranean perennial that likes rocky, dry soils and lots of sun. In our area, look for cold-hardy varieties such as “Arp,” or plant it in a container that you can bring inside during the winter. This herb helps with focus, so if you’re working on a tough project, it may be a great time to cut a few sprigs and put them in a little vase by your desk. It can also be used in homemade personal care and cleaning products as a natural deodorizer.
Mint is a spreader! Grow it in a container to keep it, well, contained. Give it lots of moisture and full sun to partial shade. Mint tea brewed from the leaves soothes upset stomachs. It’s also great for adding to soaps and scrubs and will help invigorate during your morning shower!
Most rose species can be used for a variety of skin care products. Try making floral water with petals or rose hips (the fruits), infusing the hips or flowers in oil, or adding rose petals to a bath bomb. Rose hips are a wonderful fall treat in homemade herbal teas and are chock full of vitamin C, helping you prevent autumn colds and flu.
This cheerful, yellow annual flower is a powerful healing herb. It has anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties that can help heal minor cuts and a variety of skin irritations. Dried calendula petals also lend their beautiful color to soaps, oils, and bath bombs. It grows best in full sun during the spring and fall.
This native perennial is easy to grow in sunny spots and has the added bonus of attracting butterflies. All parts of the plant can be used to make a tea or tincture to boost the immune system.
A popular houseplant, aloe vera is easy to grow and is amazing for treating minor burns, from sunburns to cooking burns. Just break open the leaves and spread on your skin. It can also be used in homemade skin care products and helps soothe irritations.
Bee Balm (Monarda)
This plant has colorful flowers beloved by birds and butterflies. People use the flowers and leaves to brew teas to settle the stomach and treat cramps. Grow in full sun and moist soil.
Many people know chamomile for its use as a relaxing bedtime tea. When the flowers and leaves are brewed in a tea or used in tinctures they can reduce anxiety for people and pets! You can also add chamomile to soap, lotion, bath bombs, or even right into the bathwater to relieve skin irritations and redness.
If you’re really looking to step it up a notch, grow a potted citrus tree. They’re amazingly easy to grow houseplants, and you can move them outdoors during the summer. Citrus fruit and peels are great for scenting bath products and can be dehydrated and added to homemade tea blends for a boost of vitamin C. They can also help you fend off the winter blues by adding a touch of green to your indoor space during the winter season.
If you're trying to create healthy habits this summer or show mom a little extra love this Mother's Day, a self-care garden might be the right project for you. Add some of these helpful plants to your garden and enjoy!