Growing and Saving the Seed Of Marshmallow
Latin name Althaea officinalis is a perennial member of the Malvaceae, or okra, family. Tall spike flowers and a long tap root with potent medicinal properties and confectionary uses make it a versatile edible/medicinal ornamental. Grows as a frost-hardy perennial from USDA zones 3-9.
Native to Europe, western Asia, and North Africa. The dried root has been used medicinally since ancient times as a demulcent and emollient. The confection known as marshmallows was originally made with the root of this plant. Herbalist Rosemary Gladstar has created a marshmallow root baby powder recipe.
- Ornamental and edible
- Traditional medicinal plant
- Seeds germinate over several weeks to even months, and they like a bit of cold (about 41 F) to encourage germination.
- Sow 1/4 inch deep.
- Ideal germination temperature is 50-75 F.
- Prefers full sun to partial shade.
- Provide loamy moist soil. This is a marsh plant, but it cannot grow in standing water/underwater; good drainage is important.
- Space plants 1.5-2 foot apart.
- Plants reach to four feet tall.
- A relatively pest-free plant.
- Taproot is harvested in fall after plant has died back.
- Marshmallow is a very easy seed to save.
- Simply gather the brown, dried seeds and store in a cool, dry place.
- Self-saved seeds will need to be cold treated, so you can either scatter seeds in fall to expose them to cold or wrap them in a moist paper towel and pop them in the fridge for 2 weeks before starting indoors in a tray.