Have you ever considered making marshmallows at home? I’m talking about the marshmallow plant, which blooms with showy white flowers throughout the summer and is used to make creamy treats in your hot chocolate.
The marshmallow plant, despite the fact that it grew in many backyard gardens, is worth having around because your kids may be less interested in it than they are in desserts.
The mucilage in the roots of this plant, which is similar to gelatin, may be utilized to thicken sauces. Medicinal properties are also present in Marshmallow. The plant, of course, may be consumed as well, and it was the basis for the delectable dessert that we know today.
What Is Althaea officinalis?
The perennial flowering plant Marshmallow thrives in damp places. It has a branched stem and grows to be 3-4 feet tall. The three divisions of the leaves, which are hairy and soft, resemble those of a maple leaf.
Beautiful blooms grow along the upper stalk. The five heart-shaped petals are white, pink, or mauve in color and vary in hue. From July to September, these blooms bloom in late summer.
It has been growing wild in sunny, cool areas, such as near the banks of lakes and marshlands, for centuries. It may still be found in nature or naturalized in some areas.
Marshmallow plants require a bit more care than ordinary plants when being planted in your garden. Take a look at what you’ll need to know.
USDA hardiness zones 3-9 are ideal for growing marshmallow.
These plants may be grown in either partial or full sun, depending on your preference.
Make sure the area where you place it is moist. After all, it’s called “marsh” mallow. The plant enjoys moist soil, not that it wants to be submerged or in a thick swamp.
It’s not difficult to create the right soil for your plants. Sand, damp soil is preferred by marshmallow plants. If your ground doesn’t retain moisture well, you’ll want to add compost to it since it doesn’t like soil that dries out too fast.
Gardeners can make pH-appropriate dirt with Marshmallow plants since they don’t mind about the soil’s pH level.
Growing Marshmallow From Seeds
Since nurseries seldom sell marshmallows seedlings, most gardeners choose to grow them from seeds. Plant the seeds in damp peat moss in a plastic bag and store them in the refrigerator for 4-6 weeks to begin the plants from seeds.
When you put the seeds into the garden, it may seem strange to do this, but it is essential to encourage germination. Stratification is the term for what happens.
When to Plant
Plant the seeds in the autumn and wait for the flowers to emerge next summer if you reside in a location with mild winters. If you reside in a place with harsh winters, you should still utilize the refrigerator procedure.
As soon as the ground can be worked in the spring, sow the seeds into your garden. Plant the seeds 2-3 weeks before the last frost date, unless you live in a warmer climate.
After seeds have germinated, make sure the soil stays moist. Germination of marshmallow seeds takes several weeks, if not months. Don’t panic; the seeds will sprout in due time.
Place the seeds in groups of 5-6 around the ground, but don’t bury them too deep. Seeds should be planted 18 to 24 inches apart in each group.
Growing Marshmallows From Cuttings
Growing it from root divisions or cuttings is another option. In the summer, you may take root cuttings as long as the soil remains wet. After the plant dies back down in the autumn, you can divide the roots as well.
Slice down through the root mass using a sharp shape or garden knife. Afterwards, replant a portion of the roots in another spot in your garden or give them to your pals. Make sure to replace the soil where you dug up the roots.
Growing Marshmallow in Containers
Marshmallow plants may be cultivated in pots, however they prefer to grow in the ground since they are perennials. This isn’t nearly as successful as proponents hoped, according to most gardeners who try it.
Caring for Marshmallow
The key to successful marshmallow plant cultivation is to take care of them for the first two or three years of their life. Their upkeep may be decreased once they’ve acquired a firm foothold, and their durability will keep them going for years.
Watering Marshmallow Plants
For the first year, these plants must be kept adequately watered in order for them to establish themselves. Water every week, at least 1 inch of water per week, and preferably more.
You can check how much water your plants still need by keeping a rain gauge nearby. Marshmallow plants prefer moist soil, but they avoid standing water, hence you must walk a thin line.
Mulching Around Plants
Mulching around the plants is recommended, and it should be done in 3-4 inches. The development of weeds that compete for nutrients from the soil is discouraged by doing so.
Mulching around your plants also helps the soil hold water. This saves you time and money by preventing you from watering your plants as often, which we all know they enjoy.
Fertilizing The Plants
Fertilizing these plants on a regular basis is not required. You should add compost to the soil when you place the seeds or seedlings into your garden to help boost essential nutrients.
Otherwise, throughout the blooming season in the summer, you may apply a general 10-10-10 organic fertilizer to your garden. The plant only requires a boost at this point. Since the plants are approaching their dormancy period, make sure not to apply any fertilizers near the fall.
Common Pests Diseases for Marshmallow Plants
The majority of insects leave marshmallow plants alone, which is one advantage. Although there is little chance of encountering pest issues, here are some things to consider.
Marshmallow plants may be attacked by flea beetles, which can be difficult to notice. They measure about 1/16 to 1/8 inch in size. Black, brown, or metallic grey flea beetles are common.
In the early spring, adult flea beetles become active. The larvae eat the roots of the plants and lay eggs in tiny holes. When these insects start leaving little, irregular holes in the leaves, you’ll eventually notice the damage they’ve caused. The majority of the holes are little.
Pay close attention in the spring. Remove any rotting debris that might protect the beetles, and check the plants regularly for damage. When the seedlings are small, you can use row covers and screens to keep beetles out. Using a flea beetle pesticide is another alternative.
The hollyhocks family is prone to rust, and Marshmallow is a cousin of the hollyhocks. A fungal disease known as common rust affects a wide range of plants.
The symptoms first appear on the bottom leaves’ surfaces. Initially, white, elevated lesions on the leaf undersides and stem may be seen. Soon, reddish-orange spores cover these areas. Leaf pustules turn yellow-green and then black with time.
Remove all infected leaves, and sweep away all fallen debris about the plant on a regular basis to help prevent rust diseases. Apply copper sprays or a sulfur powder to prevent watering overhead. You may also treat the rust infection with a broad-spectrum bio-fungicide that employs Bacillus subtillis.
Harvesting and Using Marshmallow Plants
Make sure to dry the leaves properly after blooming. Harvest the roots in late autumn, before the soil starts to freeze, if you want to harvest them. Chop the roots of fibers and cork into 1/2 inch pieces, and make sure to clean them thoroughly. Dry the pieces right away after removing them.
Harvest roots in the second or third year after marshmallow has been growing. The most often utilized portions of this plant are dried roots. The leaves and blooms may be gathered and consumed fresh or dried for medicinal reasons when the plant is in season.
Marshmallow plants have edible leaves, flowers, roots, and seeds. Raw roots are a delicious addition to soups and stews, and they may also be used as a thickener.
You can eat the leaves and blossoms like you would any other leaf or blossom, or toss them in salads and desserts. The flavor of the plant is delicious. Try frying the blossoms for a real treat.
This plant is used by herbalists to treat a variety of diseases, including:
- Upset stomach
- Bronchial spasms
A strong tea made from the leaves and roots is wonderful for alleviating sore throats and coughs.
Growing Marshmallow in Your Garden
You should consider growing marshmallow plants in your garden, even if it isn’t the most common herb. Throughout the summer months, these perennials bloom again and produce a magnificent show of blooms. Later, you may utilize the plants’ medical benefits to your fullest capacity.