How To Choose The Right Plants For A Medicinal Herb Garden

– Welcome back to
Southwest Yard and Garden. I’m Curtis Smith. And today I’m in Alcalde. We’re at the NMSU
Agricultural Science Center where they’re
having a field day. And we’re visiting right now
with Charles Martin who’s growing some
medicinal herbs here, developing the
cultural techniques we need to know for New Mexico. Charles, thank you. – Well, thank you for coming. I’m very excited about
medicinal herbs in this region because the medicinal
herb industry is growing at about 30%
annually nationwide. And some of these herbs are very
high value for small growers. So they’re much
more profitable than traditional agronomic crops
such as alfalfa or chile or even sweet corn or melons. – And I see you’re
growing echinacea. And I know a lot of people
ask questions about that. So let’s go look at your
echinacea over here. – Sure. – Purple coneflower,
really echinacea. As an ornamental we call
it purple cornflower. But medicinally it’s
known as echinacea. Yes there are several
different species that are used medicinally. This is Echinacea purpurea. The species in back as
Echinacea angustifolia. Both are high in the
echinaceoids which are the chemicals that are
used for helping build up the immune system and
counteracting colds and flu. They’re both native
species to this area. Their typical range is in
the Midwest from Missouri to the eastern slope of
the Colorado Rockies. – And they’re
looking like they’re doing extremely well here. – Yes. They prefer hot, dry summers. So it’s very good for this area. And they don’t
like overwatering. We have a few plants
here that are not doing so well because we
did overwater them there. They are showing a little
susceptibility to Phytophthora. – What do we want to
see next here now? You’ve got a lot
of other things. – Yes. I’d like to point
out the feverfew. – Feverfew. You know, I like to have
as few fevers as possible. What is this really good for? – It’s a very easy
plant to grow. I like it because it does
well in this area also. It’s in the
Chrysanthemum family. – It’s ornamental. – It’s ornamental. It can be used as a cut flower. It’s been traditionally used
for migraines and for headaches. You cut the top portion, grind
it up, and put it in capsules. And it’s becoming very
popular as a well-known herb for headaches and
migraine remedy. – Good. And you’ve got even
more things to look at. – Sure. – Ah, yerba del manso, or
sometimes called lizard tail. There are a lot of other names. I guess they call it lizard
tail because of these stems that run across the
ground and root at the nodes. But the flowers are
what’s interesting. – Yes. The entire plant can
be used medicinally, anywhere from the flowers
down to the roots, although the roots have
the greatest concentration. This is my favorite of
all the medicinal herbs because it’s a native plant. It’s native to New
Mexico and the southwest and northern Mexico. It’s a perennial. It’s very easy to grow as
long as you keep it watered. It naturally grows
in the bosques (forest) And we can bring it up and
plant it in upland conditions as long as we keep
it well-watered. – And I’ve noticed it will
grow on very heavy clay soils. Here it’s in sand. And in the sand, you probably
going to have to water more. In the clay, as I’ve
seen it very dry but the clay holds
a lot of water. – That’s right. It’s not a particular plant as
long as it gets enough water. We’ve grown it in heavy clay
soils or in sandy soils. I particularly like this because
it fits in with the culture. The curanderas of
the Hispanic culture and the Native
Americans all recognize its medicinal properties. – Now this also fits in our
xeriscapes very well too. – Yes. – You’ve got other things over
here that are good to look at. – OK. – Lavender. Now a lot of people
don’t even realize we can grow lavender over a lot
of New Mexico, especially all the way up here. – Yes. Most of your viewers
will recognize lavender, but not everybody knows that
it grows easily in New Mexico. It’s already been established
as a well-known medicinal herb for New Mexico. It likes the hot, dry summers
and the mild cool winters. And so it does very
well in this area. – And over here
you’ve got pennyroyal. And this is an interesting
plant because it looks like it’s a weed, it grows so well. And it’s an interesting
one from the perspective that it can be toxic. So this is not one
that you ingest. – Right. It’s important for
viewers to recognize that not all medicinal
herbs can be ingested. Some are only used
for external purposes. This is a mosquito repellent. And it shouldn’t be
taken internally. – Well, and a lot
of the others, even if they’re ingested, if they’re
used wrong can be toxic. So people need to see
a doctor about this. – That’s right. I want to emphasize
before anybody uses medicinal herbs they should
always consult a physician. – Well, Charles,
thank you very much. This is interesting and
something New Mexico ought to know about. – Well, you’re very welcome.


  1. Ok video. However, as a practicing herbalist, Pennyroyal can in fact be used internally. We use it to prep for natural births and to cause the uterus to begin to practice strong contractions, making the birthing process easier. It is non-toxic when dosed correctly. Also, a physician (aka as an M.D.) are not well versed in herbal healing. Going to them, they would tell you to stay away from most all herbs, when in fact, the majority of them are safe. M.D.s are just that. Medical doctors. They learn to prescribe pharmaceutical MEDICINE, as that's what they learn. They do not learn to heal the body using nutrition and cleansing. They learn to medicate. 

  2. What about the rainy seasons? They grow well in hot dry summer, but what happens when the rain comes?? Thank you x

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