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Quick facts

  • Prefers shade
  • Perfect for low lying moist areas
  • Numerous medicinal uses

Althaea officinalis

Easy to grow perennial medicinal herb, plants grow four feet tall with 3” white flowers which are very attractive to bees. Best in partial shade in damper areas of the garden.  Our marshmallow patch receives morning sun and afternoon shade which seems to quite it perfects. Flowers, leaves, roots, and seeds are all edible and used in soothing teas, and for the traditional preparation of marshmallow candies.

Traditional folk medicine uses include digging the roots and drying for storage.  Roots can be dug anytime, but are largest in midsummer before the plant flowers and goes to seed in the late summer.  Dried roots have a multitude of uses- including as a throat lozenge sucked on with honey.  A mucilaginous cold soaked tea can be made of the roots which coats and soothes the digestive system. When mixed with honey and licorice, the root tea can also be very soothing for sore throats. 

*Planting note:  Seeds need to be lightly scarified before planting.  This can be done by rubbing them lightly on a fine sand paper until the seed coat is just broken in at least one spot.

How to grow it:

Germ Temp

Indoor Start

Germ Days

Frost Tolerant


Seed Depth

Plant/Row Spacing


6-8 w.

4-14 d.


Full to shade



Seeds should be stratified for 4-6 weeks in a refrigerator in a damp paper towel in a plastic bag prior to planting. Scarify seeds with sand paper then start in a greenhouse 8 weeks before final frost.  Transplants well, give it lots of space to expand as the years go by.  Alternatively, seeds can be lightly scarified and planted in the fall, thus achieving stratification requirements.  Frost tolerant.  Likes water, do not under water.   

Seed specs:  Packet size: 50 min.