Why You Need Aromatic Plants In Your Garden



SHUTTERSTOCK

POPULAR GARDEN PLANTS such as basil, lavender, chamomile, lemon balm, and mint are not just aromatic additions to your favorite foods; the heady scents also have health benefits.

Planting an aromatherapy garden gives you access to flowers and herbs for tea, sachets, bouquets, bath oils, and other restorative uses.

“These are plants that smell great, look good in the garden, and have medicinal properties,” says Cristin Gregory, acupuncturist, herbalist, and founder of Wellbeing Natural Health in Huntersville. “Growing an aromatherapy garden will get you excited about using these plants and benefiting from them.”


Start your aromatherapy garden with these three plants: 

Lavender:
This popular perennial is as beautiful as it is fragrant. There are more than 40 varieties of the calming plant. Lavandula angustifolia “maillette” has aromatic purple/blue flowers and a higher essential oil content than other varieties.

Mint:
Peppermint, spearmint, lemon mint, chocolate mint, and other varieties are prized for their scents and flavors. Mint is also good for your health. “Smelling mint opens up the airways and clears the respiratory tract,” Gregory says. 

Chamomile:
The scent of this annual carries hints of apple, pineapple, and butterscotch. It’s been shown to reduce stress, anxiety, and insomnia (making it popular as a bedtime tea). Its daisy-like appearance is pretty to look at, too. 


Try these three techniques for using—and benefiting from—the plants in your aromatherapy garden:

Teas:
You can turn your harvest into soothing teas. Use one teaspoon of fresh or dried herbs per cup of tea. Pour boiling water over flowers, leaves, or seeds and let the brew steep. Pour tea through a strainer to filter out plant material, then savor.

Sachets:
“Sachets are super easy to make,” Gregory says. Simply cut fresh leaves and flowers from the garden and lay them in the sun to dry. Then, place them in a thin piece of fabric (such as organza) tied with a ribbon. A sachet filled with calming herbs such as lavender and chamomile can be placed under your pillow for a relaxing sleep. 

Bouquets:
What could be easier than clipping flowers for a fragrant bouquet? “Even smelling a bouquet can be healing,” Gregory says. Take your shears into the garden and clip plants with a mixture of your favorite scents—and don’t stick to flowers. Herbs, including basil and peppermint, make lovely additions to a fresh bouquet. 

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