The marshmallow plant (Althaea officinalis) is an upright perennial herb valued for its healing properties. Known by many other names -- including marshmallow root, march mallow root, white mallow root and sweet weed -- the plant is native to most European countries, particularly Britain, and is found in the United States from Massachusetts to Virginia. Because marshmallow thrives in moist areas, plants grow well in salt marshes, wet meadows, near the sea, river banks and alongside ditches. In moist soil conditions and under full sun, marshmallow root is easy to grow, particularly in gardens.
Things You'll Need
- Marshmallow root seeds, cuttings or root divisions (from plants at least 2 years old)
- Root digger
- Spade, small shovel or similar garden tool
Plant a good cover crop in the area where you'll be cultivating marshmallow root, a year in advance of planting it. Use manure to fertilize the soil and ensure that the growing area can be deeply irrigated throughout the growing process. After all danger of frost has passed, plant marshmallow root from seeds or cuttings the following spring.
Dig holes about one-eighth-inch deep and approximately 15 inches apart, to grow marshmallow from seeds. Gently press marshmallow seeds into the soil. Keep the area moist.
Wait until late autumn when the top growth of the plant has died back, to grow marshmallow from roots. Dig out mature roots by hand or with a root digger. Remove any rootlets from the main root. Plant root divisions in moist soil about 1 to 2 feet apart.
Dig out mature plant roots and remove any rootlets, to harvest marshmallow root. Wash the root, peel off the bark and dry the root at 92 degrees Fahrenheit to avoid mildew. Examine the leaves for rust fungus, and discard any infected leaves.
Consult a doctor before using marshmallow for medicinal purposes. Using this herb is considered helpful in the treatment of several diseases, including Crohn's, asthma, gastroesophageal reflux and gastritis, but its effects have not been substantiated by human pharmacological studies or clinical trials.