Motherwort Seed Pack


Leonurus cardiaca. 

As the common name suggests, motherwort is associated with supporting women’s health; and as the Latin name suggests it also has an affinity with the heart, and is used specifically for relieving anxiety felt in that part of the body. 

On close examination of a motherwort plant in bloom, you’ll find soft, furry flowers surrounded by sharp little spikes. We like to think of this as a reflection of her archetypal mother-like qualities of being both caring and (sometimes fiercely) protective. 

Native to central Asia and parts of south-eastern Europe, motherwort has been naturalised around the world – spread by our ancestors as they carried their precious medicines on their travels. Motherwort can grow in most soil types and once established requires very little care. Grow in full sunshine or partial shade. Harvest the aerial parts when she starts to flower. 

Sowing and Growing 

Motherwort seed germinates best when it has been exposed to cold, moist conditions for at least a few weeks prior to sowing (a process known as stratification). We have had good results from mixing the seed with moist sand, sealing it in a bag and storing in a fridge for 1 month before sowing indoors in the spring. You can also sow the seed directly outdoors in the autumn. Either way, sow on the surface and gently press into the soil; do not cover as the seeds require some light for germination (which normally takes around 2-3 weeks). 

If planting indoors, transplant into pots and grow on until they are around 6 inches tall before planting out. Provide a spacing of around 30cm between plants. 

Motherwort prefers full sunshine but can also be grown in partial shade. It is a resilient plant that can tolerate heavy frosts, dry conditions and poor soils. That said, it does respond well to being grown in compost-enriched soils and will produce higher yields if watered during dry spells in the summer. 

Once you have an established patch it will start to self-seed – not to the extent that it becomes invasive, but you probably won’t need to come back to us for more seeds in the future. 

Uses and Benefits 

The common and botanical name of this plant are key indicators of its modern and traditional usage. Motherwort (= ‘mother plant’) is an indicator of its traditional usage to support female health, particularly menstrual and uterine based conditions affecting fertility and conception. The Latin specific ‘cardiaca’ (and the German common name Herzgespann) is indicative of the plants affinity for treating heart based disorders, particularly where the condition may be exacerbated by emotional stress. The botanical name, Leonurus, given to the plant by the leading plant taxonomist Linnaeus, reflected an early common association and name: ‘Lion’s tail’. 

Interestingly in both Europe and China (which has a similar species Leonurus heterophyllus) the use of motherwort is to regulate periods and to treat associated menstrual conditions. They also have similar meaning to their names; known as ‘yi mu cao’ in Chinese, also meaning ‘healing mother herb’. It has a persistent reputation to improve mood. The mediaeval English herbalist Nicholas Culpeper considered motherwort useful for removing melancholy vapours from the heart and improving cheerfulness. 

Motherwort is associated with calming anxiety symptoms, especially those felt in the chest. The key to understanding this reputation is to see it as the herbal accompaniment to a good breathing exercise and with a focus on reducing tension in the diaphragm. This large muscle is our breathing bellows, and should move smoothly and expansively with each breath. So think of this herb as a tea if you are prone to heart palpitations, hyperventilation, hiatus hernia and swallowing difficulties, if any of these seem to have anxiety as an origin. 

In women, motherwort is classed as a uterine tonic and can help regulate the menstrual cycle, again especially where this has been influenced by anxiety and/or tension. Similarly, it can relax excess tension and stress during the menopause. 

Harvesting and Preparation 

Harvest motherwort just as she comes into flower. This has the dual benefit of gathering the aerial parts when they are at their best, and also prevents it self-seeding everywhere. Due to its strong flavour motherwort is best used as part of a blend in a tea or as a tincture. The immediate impact in taking motherwort tea is its bitterness which soon turns into an acrid pungency – so blend with fennel or chamomile or honey to balance this out.

Drink 1-2 tsp of the dried herb as an infusion each day. 

To make a tincture 1:5@40% alcohol and take 1 tsp 3x/day. 

Minimum 80 seeds per pack.