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Past Articles Library | Medicinal Plants | The Sweetest Form of Medicine-The Marshmallow Plant

The marshmallow or marsh mallow plant has a long history in Egypt.  Many Egyptians enjoyed the sap of this plant mixed with honey and nuts.  But today, this simple swamp plant is being used in salads, desserts and even as a treatment for such aliments as coughs, sore throats, and even constipation.

The marshmallow plant (Althaea officinalis) is easy to grow from seed and does well in areas that normally pose problems for other plants.  They thrive in damp soil and cool to cold environments.

Planting the marshmallow plant begins with the seeds.  These seeds will need to be stratified or treated in a way that mimics nature.  In this example, the seeds will need to be placed in damp sand and then stored in a bag that seals up.  Let the seeds stay in this environment for 24 hours.  After the time period has passed, place the seeds and bag in the refrigerator for 4 to 6 weeks.

After the time period has passed, check the seeds to see if they are ready to plant.  To do this, simply look in the bag to seed if some of the seeds are showing growth.

Once the sign of growth has appeared, plant them in a container with a drainage hole and keep evenly moist at all times.  While this can be a challenge, I would suggest that you create a small greenhouse around your pot by covering the top of the pot with clear plastic.  To keep the seeds from cooking and rotting, poke a few holes in the plastic.  After this is done, place the pot in a sunny location.

Transplant the seedlings into the prepared garden bed when they produce two sets of true leaves.  But make sure that you do not plant them too close.  Marshmallow plants require a lot of room so space the seedlings out so that they are one foot apart.

Also plant the marshmallow plant where their mature height will not become an issue.  This plant can reach a height of 4 feet, so plan accordingly.

The key to growing the marshmallow plant is moisture.  The first year of your plant’s life is the most crucial and soil moisture will need to be monitored often.

Everything on the marshmallow plant is edible, including the stems, leaves, seeds, and roots.  The vegetation of this plant can be eaten raw, stir fried, and steamed.


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