Betony (Stachys Officinalis) is a hardy perennial herb. Plant hardiness to zone 4, Betony requires only average soil, and tolerates full sun to partial shade. This makes it a welcome choice for those less-than-optimal garden areas, like a shade garden.
Because of Betony's unusual flowering characteristic: the flowers bloom in a short spike at the top, then there is stem growth, then another burst of flowers further down from there.
Known as an interrupted spike, the flowers will add interest and brightness to an area that may otherwise be lacking, due to not enough sunlight.
Start Betony any way that you like: seeds or cutting both work equally well. Grow in the same location, until plants become overcrowded, and then divide and replant. This is usually after about 3 years in a sunny location. If growing Betony in partial shade, the plant will not need to be divided for 5 years or more.
Betony is used for teas and infusions, so cut the entire plant at the base of the stem, and hang to dry, in an out of the way location. Place the bundles into a brown paper bag and then hang the entire thing, to keep the leaves bright. Crumble and store in colored glass jars, or clear jars out of direct sunlight. Use the aerial parts equally.
For ornamental purposes, Betony flowers in late July through August in most zones.
Betony fades quickly.
Once dry, store in a cool, dry place, emphasis on dark. Don't dry it in a food dehydrator, as it seems to fade the plant immediately. Hang the bundles in paper bags until dry, then break off the toughest part of the stem and store the rest in as whole a form as possible until needed. You can also make a tincture of Betony, using fresh leaves and blossoms.
All About Betony
Betony, like many herbs, has a magical history as well. As far back as Egyptian times, Betony was considered a magical herb. Betony was thought to be protection against harm. People believed that Betony warded off evil spirits, and during the middle ages, they wore amulets made from it.
Betony is a wonderful herb for the herb garden. It is a lovely flowering specimen offering blooms that range from white to deep purple and grows well in partial shade. The flowers are attractive and long lasting. Their unusual shape makes them an eye-catching addition to the rock garden. Betony grows from 9 inches to 3 feet tall, depending on the variety of plant, so read those tags!
For the culinary herb garden, Betony makes a wonderful replacement for a cup of black tea. Because of its prolific nature, Betony is a great base herb for your herb tea mixes, where it offers a light, clean flavor.
Medicinally, Betony has a long history. The Romans listed at least 47 illnesses that Betony was said to cure. It was said that wild animals ate Betony when they were injured.
More recently, Betony is used by well-known herbalists for tension headaches, including migraines. Jim Mcdonald writes that he uses Betony for tension and migraine headaches with good results, after working with a friend who had a head injury that left her with nagging symptoms.
He also recommends Betony for chronic headaches of hormonal nature.