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Growing Conditions: Marshmallow can grow in many different soils but prefers moist, fertile soils that are rich in nutrients. We grow it in full sun and it thrives. It can be planted in swampy areas but this can make harvesting difficult. It needs to be grown for 2-3 years before a root harvest.
Planting: Plant in a place with good moisture content. Plant seedlings into your prepared garden bed with lots of compost and well-rotted manure. Space plants 40-50cm apart and mulch around the seedlings. Make sure the growing tips are above soil line and free of mulch to prevent rotting. Water well at planting time and keep watering throughout the summer.
Medicinal uses: Marshmallow is soothing in every sense of the word. The leaves, flowers and roots are medicinal and full of gooey mucilage that is good for healing irritated mucosa. Great remedy for respiratory problems or urinary infections. The tincture of the roots we prepare every year for our herbal remedies is very gooey and looks like thick glue. Not easy to strain the roots through a sieve at the end of the infusion time. Because of its demulcent properties and pleasant flavour, marshmallow makes excellent teas, extracts and throat lozenges. It can also be used topically to sooth irritations.
Harvesting: Harvest the leaves and flowers when the plants begin to flower and some are open and others remain in bud stage. The aerial parts can be cut with a harvesting knife or secateurs. Harvest when dry and clean and the dew has evaporated. In the second and third year roots can be harvested. During those growing seasons harvest aerial parts sparingly so that the leaves can photosynthesize and provide nutrients for the roots all season. This is essential for good root development. Roots are harvested in the autumn of the second year (2 years after planting). Wait until the aerial parts are well wilted and have lost all their leaves. Cut the stems before harvest and use them in the autumnal compost heap. Lift the roots out of the bed with a trenching spade. The harvest is generally abundant with lots of lateral roots, big and long roots.
Processing and Drying: To dry leaves and flowers place the stems in a single layer on drying racks with good airflow. Dry at 37 – 40 degrees Celsius out of direct light. They take about 3 days to dry in good conditions. To process strip the leaves, flowers and buds off the stems and store in paper bags in a dry place. They should be light and fluffy and somewhat pliable.
The roots must be washed thoroughly before drying, taking care not so soak the roots as some medicinal compounds are water-soluble and can leach out during the washing process. They are quite soft and can be cut easily into slices before drying on racks.
Once fully dry store in a paper in a dry place until needed. Can be stored for 2 years under optimum conditions (dry and cool) or turned into a tincture, which keeps for many years. Mill them in a food processor before using.
Herbal Preparation: Internal and external use. Roots can be used as a tea (decoction) or turned into a tincture. Flowers and leaves can be used as a tea, herbal wash, poultice or infused into oil to make a soothing skin balm.
|Ingredients||life plant material to plant into your garden|