Starting a witchy garden? Or maybe you’re just trying to add more magic to your cooking with fresh herbs? It can be so hard to know which plants to start with and which herbs to keep on hand.
This “must haves” for your practice is going to vary wildly. It’s even going to vary on what purpose you might have for those plants. Are you keeping them around for their herbal benefit or magical?
Many people try out green or kitchen witchery only to run away from it or struggle with it. This largely comes from difficulties in knowing complimenting flavors and tastes (remember to taste your food when cooking folks!) and accidentally killing your plants.
I get you. I really do. I have a light green thumb – I can keep things alive but sometimes they just kick the bucket. My best plant right now is my aloe which I leave alone and it’s happy. When it comes to kitchen witchery, rest assured, I’ve made plenty of stupid mistakes there too. I’ve heard the song of the fire alarm plenty of times.
Knowing what to start with and what to try is super difficult, especially when you’re just starting out. Here’s some tips for you new witchlings (and maybe a gentle reminder for us old-timers)
Those big beautiful gardens you see on Pinterest? Yeah, they’re not created in a single season or even a single year. Same thing with indoor gardens. Pick a plant or two tend to them. If they’re still alive and kicking a few months later, add on another plant. Plan for what you want. This also allows you to save up money for garden because it is not a cheap hobby.
If you have such a black thumb that you can kill off a plastic plant, rest assured that you’re not without option. You can use fresh spices. A farmer’s market is your best friend. Some farmer’s markets operate all year around and others are only seasonally. Check out your local ones and see what they offer.
Protip: Take a day and visit both your farmer’s markets and grocery stores. Sometimes farmer’s markets actually partially stock from farmers that also sell to your grocery stores. Or you’ll find that you don’t like that specific potato sold at that farm or discover that while the grocery store is cheaper then farmer’s market tastes better. Figure out where’s the best places to get certain things and you’ll save yourself the heartache of “aw, the radishes are so much better at this farmer’s market!”.
Growing versus buying
If you’ve been to online communities you may have run across the idea that plants you grow are more useful than buying herbs. This is only kind of true. (If you’re making a face, keep reading.)
My experience is this: If you’re a spirit worker, the plants you grow develop bonds and relationships with you because you’ll probably talk to that spirit. That plant will be infinitely more powerful – but probably only for certain things. You might discover that the plant you grow is really only good for protection spells. It’s not really going to help you with a luck spell.
But the same fresh or dried herbs you get from the market or store? Those babies can be used for anything they’re associated with rather than being shoehorned into whatever the plant wants to be used for. So they’re infinitely more useful even if you can’t control their quality.
That’s the other main argument: you can’t control the growing conditions, ethical conditions, and quality if you buy. This it true so I highly suggest to look into farmer’s markets to circumvent these things. You can also quickly google on your phone farms the food comes from to see how controversial or unlikable they are. You might be the weirdo standing there for five minutes staring at a head of cabbage but isn’t that better than working with something you don’t agree with?
Growing is, of course, cheaper except for the initial investment. But growing also requires a lot of…
I feel like a broke record but research your stuff! This is especially true if you’re growing things. Just some simple research in how certain plants grows (or even that specific breed of plant) can entirely change how I care for a plant.
Research can also change how and why you grow a plant. I don’t use a lot of lavender in my practice but I do for my herbal medicine. So I’d rather grow it outside and harvest it than keep it inside. I use citrus in my craft for cleansing and for my herbalism. I grow mini trees in pots. Same thing with peppers. I grow them in pots so I can have fresh peppers for protection spells and curses.
Research can also tell you on whether or not you actually need a bunch of that plant. If you never use mint in spells but for rare occasions and never cook with it… then why are you growing it? Why waste that time? So what if everyone recommends it or uses it in their spells? YOU don’t and that matters. Develop your own list and needs for what you use in your practice. look through your spells and decide for yourself.
Those are some super basics. Ready for my go to list of plants for basic witchcraft?
Sex or sexual attention, soothing fights between couples or family, dieting or fasting, health and healing, the home, sympathy, harmony, increasing money, good luck, to curse others, fire element, fertility, weddings, romance or romantic love, for attractiveness, exorcism or banishing.
For improving memory, easing depression or grief, lifting one’s spirits, for romantic love or romance, for clairvoyant dreams, health and healing, and youthfulness.
To see ghosts or spirits, to attract men (especially sexually), for women’s strength or sexual attractiveness, to calm, to calm nerves or anxiety, against unwanted sexual attention, fertility or childbirth, for sleep, healing and health in general, air element, divination, purification or cleansing, for sex or sexual attention, easing depression or grief, relaxation, and for romantic love or romance.
For increasing money, prosperity, wealth, trade or increasing business, dieting or fasting, cleansing or purification, clairvoyant dreams, divination, relaxation, easing anxiety or nerves, health or healing in general, for improving memory, air element, for sex or sexual attention, romance or romantic love, and creating change or a catalyst.
Protection, peace, harmony, romance or romantic love, sex or sexual attention, soothing fights between couples or families, for newlyweds, for weddings, for women’s sexual attractiveness or strength, for sleep, healing or health in general, attuning or aiding psychic powers, for clairvoyant dreams, divination, clairvoyance or second sight, and against or wards off negativity, bad luck, spells, curses, or malevolent spirits.
Cleverness or mental clarity, focus, for confidence, against thieves or trespassing, for courage or against fear, purification or cleansing, improving memory, against nightmares, for rejuvenation or power / energy, youthfulness, women’s strength or sexual attractiveness, for beauty, for physical strength or endurance, romance or romantic love, to attract friends, healing or health in general, exorcism or banishing, protection, protection at sea, to invoke the sea, against unwanted sexual attention, boosting the five senses, clairvoyance or second sight, and against or wards off negativity, bad luck, spells, curses, or malevolent spirits.
Wards off fatigue while traveling, victory, to win a battle or overcome an enemy, ease depression or grief, for courage or bravery, wards off fear, wards off nightmares, healing or health in general, for sex or sexual attention, to see faeries, funerary rites or to send off the dead, purification or cleansing, hex / curse breaking or spell breaking, for rejuvenation or power / energy, clairvoyance or the second sight, and against or wards off negativity, bad luck, spells, curses, or malevolent spirits.
Youthfulness, prosperity, wealth, trade or increasing business, health or healing, for improving memory, easing depression or grief, and earth element
Youthfulness, to know or enter the underworld or land of the dead, for romance or romantic love, for sex or sexual attention, water element, relaxation, for happiness or joy, for success, for gardening success, for rejuvenation or power / energy, health or healing, to use in place of a poppet or for image magic, and wood can be used to create magical tools.
Mugwort and/or Wormwood
Divination, scrying, to strengthen divination tools, for magic mirrors, for clairvoyant dreams, clairvoyance or second sight, to see ghosts or spirits, to contact or manifest spirits, air element, health or healing, for protection while traveling, wards off wild animals, wards off fatigue while traveling, and purification or cleansing.
Divination, clairvoyance or second sight, attuning or aiding psychic powers, romance or romantic love, for weddings, health or healing in general, sexual prowess or fertility, water element, for fair weather, for courage or bravery, wards off fear, for wisdom, purification or cleansing, for rejuvenation or power / energy, exorcism or banishing, and against or wards off negativity, bad luck, spells, curses, or malevolent spirits.
Peppers in general
Protection, against envy or jealousy (both directed at you and your own), exorcism or banishing, for curses or hexes, and fire element.
What did you notice about that list? Most of the list can be bought in stores or probably grows locally to you. All of it can be eaten (but please check your allergies and health warnings first!) It’s an excellent start and it covers a lot of things you might be trying to do.
(Side note, my list is from various numerous sources. Too many to list in a blog post. If you want to know where I got a piece of lore from, drop me a line and I’ll give you the source.)
Also, every single one of those plants can be grown in pots at least for a few years. Yes, even apples. There’s some intrepid farmers that make dwarf apple trees but you’ll probably do much better just planting it in the ground. Cayenne peppers, lavender, and roses will need fairly large pots in order to thrive (and do yourself a favor and put them on little rolling plant trays). Most of the rest can be kept in your standard windowsill.
Again, what you grow or keep around entirely depends on your personal practice and needs. Good luck with your gardening!