Sow indoors in pots or trays in late winter or early spring, or in late spring to early summer having kept the seeds in the fridge for a few weeks. It can take several weeks for the seed to germinate so make sure you keep the soil/compost moist while you wait.
You can also sow direct in autumn or early spring, but germination tends to be less reliable and the slow-growing seedlings can easily be swamped by weeds, which is why we recommend sowing in indoors in pots or trays.
Transplant into small pots once the plants are big enough to handle, and plant out in the summer for flowering in the 2nd year.
Wood Betony is a UK native wildflower that is usually found in cut or grazed grasslands, in hedgerows or in open woodlands. In can be grown in full sunshine or partial shade. It prefers a damp, but not waterlogged soil. Generally speaking it is a resilient plant that will be fine in most UK gardens and only needs watering when it is very dry.
A member of the Lamiaceae Mint family, it’s more classically categorised as a bitter nervine that both strengthens and calms a debilitated nervous system. Renowned for repairing emotional and physical trauma leading to headaches and frazzled nerves. Also any acute manifestations such as period pains or stomach gripes. Its bitterness helps to enhance digestion whilst its tannins help heal any internal inflammation. These properties also make it useful as a poultice for wounds – which can be very helpful if out hiking as its commonly found in the wild where it can be used with Yarrow for any cuts and minor wounds (see info on harvesting herbs sustainably from the wild here). Reach for the Betonica, or just sit with her a while whenever you need help with a new perspective, and a clearer head.
She goes well, tastes better and works better with lavender, lemon balm and chamomile.
John Gerard, renowned 16th Century herbalist said ‘It maketh a man to piss well”, which could well be worth a try.
Collect the aerial parts just as wood betony comes into flower in the summer and dry in bunches or lay out on a drying rack to dry at around 35-42C. Store in an airtight container.
For a cup of tea, take 1-2 teaspoons of the dried herb in a cup of boiled water; for head-clearing a few times a day.
For tincturing, as it contains some alkaloids (betionicine) it needs a relatively high percentage of alcohol around 50-60%.