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We don’t know about you, but we love to enjoy our evenings outside during the fall—whether it be dinner, drinks or conversations. What better way to prepare than planting some herbal friends that have a variety of uses and protection for the modern home?
As the last days of summer dwindle down, and the season's start to change, Nature's bounties start to transform for the cooler temperatures of fall too. However, here at Pop of Modern we are looking forward for the dry heat to ease as fall temperatures on the West coast are the perfect time for evenings spent outside. One way to enjoy the cooler temps in our hotter climate zones is to get-in some planting time. This week, we are doing something different by giving our readers the low-down on some valuable plant allies that make great late summer/early fall planting activities at home.
Below is a short list of some of our favorite beneficial plants suitable for planing this time of year:
Lavender is a genus in the mint family, with many different species such as French/topped Lavender (Lavandula stoechas) or fringed Lavender (Lavendula dentata), but most common is the English Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) variety. As far as planting requirements go, it prefers dry soils and does best in hotter, drier zones. For those living in wetter climates, gravel or sand can be added to assist in drainage, as it thrives best with wet winters and dry summers, similar to its Mediterranean native origins.
Traditionally, lavender is known as an herbal remedy for anxiety and sleep issues, even promoting the recollection of dreams. Most are familiar with the scent and essential oil of lavender; however, the essential oil is a less sustainable option of use and can even be harmful to some including children. We recommend a more sustainable use of lavender by taking the fresh flowers to dry and putting them in sachets for scenting closets and protecting against moths. They can also be placed under pillows to promote calming rest. Additionally, one of the best benefits of lavender as a plant around the home is because it makes a great natural mosquito repellent, which also deters flies, fleas & other bugs. The linalool and pinene chemical components found in lavender emit a strong odor that repels many types of pest including those dreadful mosquitos.
We recommend trying to plant a maturer plant can be planted in late summer or early fall, which is not as fussy as smaller starters or even growing from seed in the spring, when it doesn't need as much attention and care, but you get the full benefits of it's beauty and scent!
It's low flammability make a great plant for very dry and fire prone areas and they also attract bee pollinators.
Lemon ball is a perennial that survives through winter, and is also related to the mint family. It makes an excellent tea known for its healing, balsamic properties and has a light lemon smell, hence the name lemon balm. Small white flowers blossom in summer—much like its relative mint. It also attracts honey bees, so this plant is an excellent ally for the garden, patio or balcony! Traditionally, it has been used for centuries with continued use in today as a digestive, a sleep aide and for elevating moods. Make sure to harvest leaves for tea when the plant is dry not wet, or after having just been rained on.
This aromatic evergreen shrub is perfect for late summer and fall planting and also related to the mint family. If you did not know already, we really love the mint family around here!
Since seeds are bit more difficult to start for the novice gardener, cultivating from cuttings (shoots from an established bush that need to rooted in water) or obtaining a mature plant are the best bets. Rosemary can withstand a lot of neglect, but why wouldn't you want to have a healthy rosemary plant for year-round culinary and therapeutic uses? As rosemary flowers, tiny little purple blossoms appear, possibly why it is regarded as an ancient sacred plant associated with remembrance traditions.
Rosemary contains camphor, which is known not only a pest deterrent, but is also highly mosquito-repellent. The fresh plant leaves and stems can be dried and burned as incense or used as an herbal remedy tea for its energizing and circulatory stimulant actions.
Also referred to as Catmint and within the mint family, catnip blooms from late spring through autumn, so planting a mature plant around this time is our recommendation. Most popular for its association with making cats go a little crazy and/or for promoting their playfulness, the plant is also excellent at repelling mosquitos. Both the cat attraction and mosquito detraction is due to its chemical constituent nepetalactone, which is better than DEET at warding off pests spatially (as opposed to direct use on the skin). Catnip also attracts butterflies.
In traditional medicine, it has been used as an herbal remedy for stomach cramps, indigestion, and for its overall calming and sedative actions. Plus, if you have cats it's a great source of entertainment for them!
Vervain is a flowering perennial genus within the verbena or vervain family, containing many varieties that are drought-resistant. The flowers come in different shades of pinks, purples, blues and whites and attract butterflies, making it a great addition to the garden or balcony. Known as an herbal tonic in traditional medicine with ancient associations with divine and supernatural deities. With that kind of history, why would one to avoid the qualities of such a plant ally?
Depending on species chosen, it's best to take a look at the planting and soil requirements individually, but one recommendation is Verbena officinalis, known commonly as holy herb or mosquito plant (we wonder why?), which is native to Europe and drought resistant. (American) Blue vervain (Verbena hasta) on the other hand, is native to North America and prefers wetter soils. Blue vervain is an herbal ally in traditional medicine known for its nervine actions, which help relieve stress.
Lastly, basil is another great aromatic plant that deters mosquitos due to its geraniol content, but is best kept on a sunny windowsill or planted in late spring, early summer to benefit from this culinary herb. There are many kinds such as sweet or Thai basil, whose leaves are a great flavor to add in dishes for nutritional benefits. Additionally, crushing fresh basil in the hand and rubbing the released oils against the skin offer an itch-relief after a nasty mosquito bite!
These are just some plants to have in and around the home, there are, of course, tons of other mother-nature friendly plant allies out there. We hope this inspires you all to enjoy the last days of summer and welcome fall evenings surrounded by great smelling, bug-repelling plants that have culinary and herbal uses as well. Make sure to check out our modern planters for getting started on your next planting project!
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