Chestnut Herbal School

Get Growing: 15 of Our Favorite Resources for Spring Herb Gardening

Compiled by Meghan Gemma with Juliet Blankespoor
Photography by Juliet Blankespoor

At the tail end of winter, cold-hardy herbs start showing off new green leaves.

We’ve been growing medicinal herbs for decades, and their return to the garden each spring is still one of the season’s great joys. At the tail end of winter, cold-hardy herbs like motherwort and lemon balm will start showing off new green leaves—followed shortly by purple-tinged anise hyssop, plush stinging nettles, and fragrant peppermint. Although it will be many more weeks before harvesting commences, their presence is a grand and hopeful sign of warmer days to come.

Close-up of a passionflower.

Growing medicinal herbs can be your gateway to building a truly fresh and nourishing home apothecary. You’ll be hard-pressed to find herbs that are of higher quality than those grown by your own hand. And tending these plants is one of the very best ways to develop a deep and meaningful relationship with your medicine. To celebrate this love affair with garden-grown herbs, we’ve pulled together the best herb gardening resources from our blog, plus five muse-worthy resources that have enlivened and inspired our own gardens.

Anise hyssop growing in a garden.

Six Herb Gardening Guides from the Chestnut School Archives

The Top Ten Medicinal Herbs for the Garden

These are our top ten must-have medicinals for the garden, including how to get them growing. It’s not easy choosing favorites, but we picked these for their medicinal usefulness, beauty, and adaptability to a wide range of climates.

9 Tips for Planning the Herb Garden of Your Dreams

Your herb garden is a space for exciting creative expression—where medicine and beauty can flourish side by side. Here, Juliet shares her tips for creating a garden that fulfills all your herbal hopes and botanical desires.

Guidelines to Growing Medicinal Herbs from Seeds

Everything you ever wanted to know about starting herbs from seed! Medicinals can be trickier to germinate than veggies—they often require special pre-treatment and some extra pampering. All of which is worth the wonder of watching these unique plants push their first sprouts into the world. Plus, you’ll save money and be able to cultivate herbs you might not be able to purchase otherwise.

Root Division: The Easiest Way to Propagate Medicinal Herbs

Root division is a simple way to add herbs to your garden. It’s handy for propagating dozens of well-loved plants, including mint, bee balm, Echinacea, comfrey, lemon balm, calamus, and elecampane. Learn how to make your own divisions and share the abundance with your friends!

7 Medicinal Herbs for Urban Gardens

Even in urban spaces, you can turn your garden into a productive medicinal paradise! If you have limited outdoor space—or just a patio or balcony—Juliet has a number of tips to help you reap the most from your plantings. Plus, seven herbs that will bring home the bounty in small spaces.

Herbal Seed Suppliers and Nurseries: Ethical Sources for Medicinal Seeds & Plants

Our roll call of medicinal seed suppliers and herbal nurseries in the United States and Canada. Whether you want to grow your garden from seed or start with living plants, this list will literally put medicine in your hands (and online shopping cart). We feature both well-known, large herbal businesses and small-scale local farms.

California poppy seedlings interspersed with cooking greens.

Nine Fabulous Herb Gardening Resources

The Medicinal Herb Grower: A Guide for Cultivating Plants that Heal (Volume 1) by Richo Cech

A good beginning book to cultivating plants in general, but with a focus on medicinal herbs. Filled with herbal anecdotes and cultivation details for many of our most treasured medicinal allies. Propagation, germination, soil preparation, harvesting, and seed-saving are all covered. Richo is a long-time herb gardener and seed-saver, and owns Strictly Medicinal Seeds, our favorite source for herb seeds and many medicinal plants—including trees, shrubs, and cacti (shipping is available).

The Healing Garden: Cultivating and Handcrafting Herbal Remedies by Juliet Blankespoor

Juliet Blankespoor’s essential guide to growing and harvesting herbs, making herbal medicine, and practicing sustainable hands-on herbalism. This book will help you design the herb garden of your dreams and grow 30 of the most healing medicinal plants on the planet with time-tested organic methods.

Herbal Renaissance: Growing, Using and Understanding Herbs in the Modern World by Steven Foster

An excellent all–around reference for popular Western herbs. Includes information on medicinal use, processing and cultivation for each herb. This is one of my top-shelf references; the detail and experience Foster shares so gracefully makes this an indispensable source for any herb gardener.

Illustrated Herb Encyclopedia: A Complete Culinary, Cosmetic, Medicinal, and Ornamental Guide to Herbs by Kathi Keville

One of my long-time favorite herb references. Provides more cultivation information than most general herbals, accompanied by beautiful illustrations. Kathi includes loads of recipes, historical references, medicinal uses, and aromatherapy tips.

Deb Soule of Avena Botanicals on YouTube

The videos on Deb Soule’s YouTube channel are a joy to behold, as she truly loves and connects with plants. She shares invaluable wisdom on garden herbs, including information on cultivation, medicinal uses, harvesting, and preparation. Deb is the founder of Avena Botanicals, a handcrafted herbal remedies business that grows nearly all of their own herbs on a certified biodynamic farm in Midcoast Maine. She also writes a fantastic blog and is the author of How to Move Like a Gardener: Planting and Preparing Medicines from Plants.

Joe Hollis of Mountain Gardens on YouTube

Joe Hollis’s YouTube channel shares an incredible collection of videos on Western and Chinese herbs that can be cultivated in the garden. Joe lives at Mountain Gardens, a botanical paradise featuring the largest collection of native Appalachian and Chinese medicinal herbs in the eastern United States. Joe sells plants and seeds, shares a self-serve library and herbal apothecary, and offers plenty of incredible classes, which you can check out here.

Herb Germination Chart by Fedco Seeds

This is a handy reference to print or bookmark if you’re planning to grow an herb garden from seed. Fedco supplies the germination and growing specifics for a large number of medicinal herbs.

How to Move Like a Gardener: Planting and Preparing Medicines from Plants by Deb Soule

A guide to biodynamic herb gardening by Deb Soule, founder of Avena Botanicals. This is a wonderful reference for those drawn toward an energetic approach to gardening and medicine.

Edible + Medicinal Plant Handouts from Useful Plants Nursery

Detailed growing instructions for a handful of plants that serve double duty as food and medicine—bramble berries (including raspberry and blackberry (Rubus spp.)), elderberries (Sambucus nigra var. canadensis), blueberries (Vaccinium spp.), and green tea (Camellia sinensis).

We know there are plenty more fantastic herb gardening resources on the web.

If you have a personal favorite, we’d love to hear about it! And if you enjoy following herbal writers online, check out the blog roll of Rosalee de la Forêt: A Complete List of Herbal Blogs.

Jiaogulan Gynostemma growing in a planter.

Meet Our Contributors:

Juliet Blankespoor

JULIET BLANKESPOOR is the founder, primary instructor, and Creative Director of the Chestnut School of Herbal Medicine, an online school serving thousands of students from around the globe. She's a professional plant-human matchmaker and bonafide plant geek, with a degree in botany and over 30 years of experience teaching and writing about herbalism, medicine making, and organic herb cultivation. Juliet’s lifelong captivation with medicinal weeds and herb gardening has birthed many botanical enterprises over the decades, including an herbal nursery and a farm-to-apothecary herbal products business. 

These days, she channels her botanical obsession through her writing and photography in her online programs, on her personal blog Castanea, and in her new book, The Healing Garden: Cultivating and Handcrafting Herbal Remedies. Juliet and her family reside in a home overrun with houseplants and books in Asheville, North Carolina.

Meghan Gemma of Chestnut School of Herbal Medicine.

MEGHAN GEMMA is one of  Chestnut School of Herbal Medicine's primary instructors through her written lessons, sharing herbal and wild foods wisdom from the flowery heart of the school to an ever-wider field of herbalists, gardeners, healers, and plant lovers.

She began her journey with the Chestnut School in 2010—as an intern and manager at the Chestnut Herb Nursery and then as a plant-smitten student “back in the day” when the school’s programs were taught in the field, and later she became part of the school’s writing team. Meghan lives in the Ivy Creek watershed, just north of Asheville, North Carolina.

Interested in becoming a contributor?


© Chestnut School of Herbal Medicine and, 2011-2024. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Chestnut School of Herbal Medicine and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Want to take a deeper dive into medicinal herb cultivation?

Our 1,000-hour Herbal Immersion Program is the most comprehensive handcrafted online herbal course available, covering botany, foraging, herb cultivation, medicine making, and therapeutics.

The Chestnut School of Herbal Medicine online Herbal Immersion Program.

Looking for more blog articles about medicinal herb cultivation?

Remember, we’ve got a wheelbarrow-full of herb gardening and seed starting resources on the blog. Come on over to browse, pick up our personal gardening tips, and learn about our can’t-live-without garden medicinals.

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