PHOTO: Peggy2012CREATIVELENZ/Flickr
Dawn Combs
February 8, 2017

If you grow your medicine along with your vegetables, you may already grow remedies for things like the common headache or cuts and bruises. I hardly need a reason to try growing a new and interesting plant. I’ve had specimens in my garden because of their place in American history, because I wanted to make my own cooking extracts, and because I wanted to make my own paper. So with Valentine’s Day upon us, why not add something to the garden that can spice up date night?

Growing Love Plants

There are so many plants that are reputed to be aphrodisiacs. Many of them work primarily by bringing blood flow to the pelvis, while others work to balance important hormones. Choosing one or two is simple, but because many of the most popular “love plants” are tropical, we need to have special equipment—namely a greenhouse or a sunroom—to enjoy watching them grow. However, here are two aphrodisiacs that will overwinter inside an unheated greenhouse in the Midwest. In the interest of fairness I’m sharing one for the men and one for the ladies!

Shatavari (Asparagus racemosus)

ashwaghanda
Dinesh Valke/Flickr

This plant is native to the Himalayas but can be grown in hardiness zones 8 to 12. On my Ohio farm, it requires slightly acidic soil and a dedicated greenhouse bed where it has plenty of room for its tuberous roots. We built a raised bed from concrete block in our greenhouse, and plants like this one overwinter well in it.

If you grow Shatavari indoors, you need to give it a trellis. It looks very much like asparagus, but it is a climber that uses sharp thorns to get a leg up. The spring shoots, leaves and roots are all used as a female reproductive tonic and aphrodisiac, though you will most likely find just the root when you buy this plant commercially. It is a very popular Ayurvedic herb, whose name in Sanskrit translates to “one who possesses a hundred husbands.”.

Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera)

Ayurvedic India/Flickr

Also happiest in zones 8 to 12, this plant makes a nice greenhouse companion to shatavari. While shatavari is known for its aid to women, ashwagandha has been very helpful for men who struggle with a lack of enthusiasm in the love department. It is an adaptogen most often recommended for both men and women for support of the body’s stress response and immune system support. It’s not a surprise to find that it’s terrific in balancing hormones.

We have grown this plant quite successfully in a pot before. It won’t want to share the soil with shatavari because it enjoys alkaline soil. The leaves of this plant will remind you of eggplant, which is appropriate since they are in the same family. The root of ashwagandha is what we’re after, which means you can even grow it as an annual if you would like.

Serve It Up Fresh

Remember that, just like our vegetables, botanical supplements are better the fresher they are. How much more meaningful is that Valentine’s Day gift when it is made from a plant you grew from seed and nurtured all year long? These plants can be infused into alcohol and turned into a delicious homemade liquor, or they can be powdered and baked into brownies. You are only limited by your creativity! Happy Valentine’s Day, and grow something this year that makes loving your love a bit spicier.


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