how TO GaTHER botanicals for NATURAL health & beauty
Growing and gathering herbs, flowers, berries and barks for use in your own delicious recipes and healing takes a little time but is very rewarding. One of the advantages to using herbs, flowers, berries, barks and roots you've gathered yourself is the improved flavour and therapeutic properties because you are choosing the 'best time' to harvest. Whether your a gardening novice or a more experienced enthusiast, we've got lots of inspiration and top tips, from harvesting basics on when to collect leaves, flowers, berries and barks to information on lunar cycles and planetary rulers.
- If you aren't able to harvest at the 'best time' for your chosen herb or flower, it can still be collected. Although it won't be at it's peak, there will still be some benefit
Gathering botanicals - the basics
- Gather herbs & flowers on a sunny day, in the morning after the sun has dried the dew but before the heat of the day has set in.
- Pick the healthiest looking plants, picking leafy tips and avoiding damaged or wilted leaves & flowers.
- Use secateurs or a sharp knife to cut the plant cleanly, as pulling by hand may damage the stem. Place carefully without overcrowding into paper bags, a basket or a traditional wooded trug.
- No more than 1/3 of new growth on perennials should be collected, to ensure the plant remains healthy for future growth.
- If gathering from your own garden and you use environmentally-friendly growing practices, a good shake to remove soil and insects is fine. If you are collecting from the wild, avoid areas of pollution or other contaminants, and wash your harvested botanicals before use.
- For the plants to be at their flavourful and medicinal peak, as a general guide, collect:
- Leaves - before the plant flowers
- Flowers - on the 1st day of blossoming
- Barks - in Spring
- Roots & Berries - in Autumn. Leaves & flowers have peaked, and the goodness has passed back to the roots/berries.
harvesting by lunar cycles
- In the past, the phases of the moon were considered very important in gardening and were published in almanacs to guide farmers and gardeners of the most optimum time to sow, grow & harvest.
- For the plants to be at their most nutritional and therapeutic at harvest:
- gather flowers, leaves, and fruits at Waxing Moon
- collect roots and barks at Waning Moon
harvesting by planetary rulers
According to astrology, the days of the week, and hours of the day, are 'ruled' by 7 planets. Ancient and traditional texts explain that plants, flowers and trees have an affinity with a particular planet, depending on the energetic similarity, environment, physical characteristics, properties and the conditions they treat. Fiery, Spicy plants are ruled by Mars, for example. With this philosophy, choosing to harvest a plant or to make a herbal preparation on the the day (and/or during the planetary hour) ruled by a suitable planet will increase the nutritional and therapeutic properties of your recipe or remedy.
Working with plants and days of the week:
- If you're looking to work with the particular energy of a planet and can't work on the specific day of the week which is ruled by that planet, you can work on a different day but during a planetary hour that is ruled by your chosen planet, or by the secondary association for leaves, flowers, seeds etc.
- You'll find daily information from Lunariam on the planetary day ruler and a table of planetary hours here
Working with plants and days of the week:
- Sunday (Planetary Ruler: Sun) - plants that grow in sunny places, whose flowers turn towards the sun, or are yellow or orange (i.e.: angelica, bay, calendula, caraway, chamomile, cinnamon, clove, dandelion, eyebright, frankincense, ginger, juniper, lime, orange, rosemary, rowan, saffron, sandalwood, St Johns Wort, walnut, witch hazel)
- Monday (Planetary Ruler: Moon) - plants that are white, light-coloured, prefer shade, moist environments, grow near water or have high water content (i.e.: chickweed, coconut, eucalyptus, jasmine, lemon, lemon balm, mallows, myrrh, mugwort, poppy, sandalwood, wild rose)
- Tuesday (Planetary Ruler: Mars) - plants that prickle, have thorns (i.e.: allspice, black pepper, carrot, celandine, coriander, chilli pepper, coffee, garlic, ginger, horseradish, juniper, plantain, mustard, nettle, onion)
- Wednesday (Planetary Ruler: Mercury) - plants with fuzzy, hairy, finely-divided leaves, or fast growing winding, creeping growth (i.e.: almond, apple, bergamot, blackberry, caraway, cardamom, clover, dill, fennel, lavender, lemongrass, lemon verbena, marjoram, parsley, peppermint, spearmint, strawberry, thyme)
- Thursday (Planetary Ruler: Jupiter) - plants that are large, bold, expansive and often edible (i.e.: agrimony, basil, borage, chervil, chicory, clove, hyssop, linden, mace, meadowsweet, nutmeg, sage, star anise)
- Friday (Planetary Ruler: Venus) - plants that are soft, please the senses with lovely fragrance and attractive flowers or berries (i.e.: apple, apricot, avocado, cornflower, daisy, elder, feverfew, geranium, lady's mantle, oregano, rose, thyme, vervain, violet)
- Saturday (Planetary Ruler: Saturn) - plants that are slow growing, deep rooted, thrive in shades, have knotty, knobbly wood, may smell foul or be poisonous (i.e.: angelica, burdock, cannabis, comfrey, cumin, cypress, mullein, patchouli)
- Leaves: Moon
- Seed/Bark: Mercury
- Flowers: Venus
- Wood: Mars
- Fruit: Jupiter
- Roots: Saturn
Important considerations & cautions:
Although botanicals (herbs, spices, plants) are considered safe for most people when used in cooking or in small amounts, inappropriate use of some of these botanicals could be dangerous. The content on this site shares our own personal use of botanical ingredients, is for information only, and should not be taken as medical advice. Prior to using any botanicals in recipes or remedies, you should always do your own research, and consult with a medical professional, your GP, or a qualified herbalist.