(Leonurus cardiaca ‘Motherwort')
Motherwort is a perennial herb that is native to southeastern Europe and central Asia but can be commonly found growing along woodland margins and along roads throughout most of the United States. At maturity, this plant reaches the height of 2-4' and features 4 upward angled stems, green deeply lobed leaves, and 2 lipped tubular pink-lilac flowers. This plant can be grown in a container, attracts bees, birds, butterflies, hoverflies, and predatory wasps, resistant to deer, is used to makes dye, is both edible and medicinal, and self sows!
Also Known As: Throw-wort, Lion's ear, and Lion's tail.
Native Range: Russia and central Asia.
Grown as: Perennial
Maturity (Blooms): 100 days (June-September)
Start Indoors: Yes
Start Outdoors: Yes
Light: Full sun to partial shade
Soil Moisture: Medium.
Beneficial Insects?: Yes Motherwort nurtures a great diversity of wasps, honeybees, and hoverflies all summer long.
Containers?: Yes. To avoid unwanted spread, try growing it in containers or raised beds.
Sow Depth: 1/8"
Produces: 4 upward angled stems, green deeply lobed leaves, and 2 lipped tubular pink-lilac flowers
USDA Zone: 3-9
To cold stratify seeds, soak for 12-24 hours and then put them in a plastic bag filled with sand and peat. Seal the bag and place it in the refrigerator for 10 days, checking regularly for moisture and spritzing lightly if the mix becomes dry.
Sow 2-3 seeds per containers indoors or broadcast seeds in late spring and cover with a very thin 1/8-inch layer of soil. Light and soil moisture are both required for germination. They should sprout in 10-21 days, and strong seedlings can be thinned to 2-3 feet apart.
You can also choose to sow seeds directly in the garden in late fall. This way, there is no need to cold stratify your seeds first, as the cold winter weather will take care of this process for you in most growing zones.
The fresh or dried flowers can be used as a flavoring in soups, particularly lentil or split pea. They are also used as a flavoring in beer. Fresh or dried flowers can be used to make a tea.
1 TSP. Motherwort leaves (dried) per 1 cup of boiling water. Drink it as is or add a sweetener such as honey if you prefer to sweeten your tea.
Known hazards: Skin contact with this plant can cause dermatitis in susceptible people. The fragrant essential oil can cause photosensitization. Grazing animals can have their mouths injured by the sharp teeth of the calyces.