Flavorful ‘immortality herb’ offers health benefits too
During the cold, snowy, winter months, for those with a passion for green, growing things, it is interesting to check out what the garden centers of our local family stores have available.
On display now at many centers are primrose, African violets, orchids, miniature roses, flowering cactus and more. In their bright colors, interesting shapes and forms, these plants are a glad sight for winter-weary eyes. Most of these bloomers are “easy care” houseplants and very welcome additions to any home scheme.
Speaking of houseplants, which are the only kind we can “garden” in February, there is a most unique, sinuous, vining plant that can be grown in the home and its handsome, serrated leaves can also be brewed into a very healthy, deliciously rich, hot tea.
Jiaogulan or “Immortality Herb’ is a Chinese native sometimes referred to as “Southern Ginseng” because it grows in south central China and is used in similar ways as ginseng.
The plant’s curative and medicinal properties are so pronounced and well-documented that Chinese users of the herb swear by its powerful properties.
Historically, the plant has been used as an adaptogen that seems to help control cholesterol, maintain healthy blood pressure, protect the immune system, and improve digestion. Also known as Southern Ginseng, the leaves of this plant have a sweet, fresh taste and can be chewed fresh, added to salads and brewed as a soothing, tasty tea.
In the home, Jiaogulan can be grown as a climbing plant or a weeping-type vine. Its long, slender stems each sprout an abundance of deep-green, serrated leaves that grow in groups of five. The slim stems can grow quite long but can be trimmed back to any length desired.
Jiaogulan is easy to grow and prefers well-drained soil and full sun. The plant grows either as male or female and will not bear seeds unless one of each is grown in close proximity.
A great houseplant, it is attractive grown from a hanging planter, easy to care for and a great source of immune-strengthening and anti-aging benefits.
February garden tip: Bring some spring into your home right now! Cut some branches from flowering shrubs such a forsythia, crabapple, pear, cherry, etc. Bring them inside and place the branches in a vase of water. Set them in a warm, sunny location and in a short time they will begin to bloom and provide some fresh, bright, spring color in your home.