Is it a weed? White Horehound


There is a plant that grows everywhere around here and I’ve always wondered what it was. Grows like a weed so to speak. I knew it was in the mint family as the stems were square but was definitely not a mint. I just ID it from a book, Weeds of the West.

The plant growing in my gardens is white horehound which is a herb. There are two types of horehound—black horehound and white horehound. Black horehound can be toxic while white horehound can be beneficial. They are easy to tell apart because black horehound has little purple flowers while white horehound has little white flowers.

Since ancient Egypt, white horehound has been used as an expectorant. Native American and Australian Aboriginal medicines have traditionally used white horehound to treat respiratory conditions. Some people make homemade cough drops out of them and some use the dried leaves to make a tea. They actually sell the seeds in Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds but around my place it definitely grows like a weed on its own without my help. I use to pull it out because it is not a particularly attractive plant and frankly grew where I didn’t want it to grow.

But since I became a beekeeper, I noticed the bees are wild about it with its small white flowers, so now I leave it for them. The US Food and Drug Administration banned its use in US made cough drop saying it has no proven benefit. However it is widely used in Europe and you can buy it in European cough drops, just not US made ones.

I recently had pneumonia and a dry hacking cough that would give me fits. The only cough drop that would help stop the coughing that I tried is called ‘Ricola’ Cough Drops’, which is a Swiss made cough drop. Guess what is in those cough drops? Horehound! Only I didn’t know about white horehound, or Ricola cough drops or what that weed was growing in my gardens.  I found all this out while I was recovering and on the computer a lot-how serendipitous!

10 things to Do in April in the Garden

Here are 10 things we can do in our gardens this month.  As the season commences, we will get busier and busier which means I’ll be posting at night when it is dark and I can’t be out in the garden! (oh yea-I work too).

1. It isn’t too late to get a soil test to see what amendments you will need for this year. I just sent mine out last week.

2. Time to add AGED horse manure (at least 4 months old) to your beds and dig it in. Don’t use hot manure-it is too late for that. Use hot in the fall so it has time to cool off and break down. Every year I add more and the soil gets richer and richer. Our soil is so crappy that we need to enrich it for veggies. If you can’t find any old, aged horse manure, then buy some compost in bags from your local nursery and dig it in.

3. Finish cleaning out your garden and trimming perennials if you haven’t already.

4. Make some LARGE TOMATO CAGES. I use concrete reinforcement wire because it has 6 inch square holes to get you hand through to pick tomatoes and it is 5 feet tall. Go in with someone to buy a roll if you don’t need too many cages.

5. Transplant your little tomatoes that some of you are growing into the next larger size and give them light.

6. Check your drip systems and timers to make sure they are in good working order BUT do not keep them attached yet because we still can get freezing nights. If you don’t have a drip system, look into doing one. I use the store, Firebird here in Santa Fe to get parts and their expertise on the subjects. It’s not hard to do and really saves on the water and your time.

7. Start adding to your compost pile again. Heat it up. Turn it over. Use HOT MANURE to heat it up or powdered blood meal which is high in nitrogen. I don’t compost in winter because it is too hard for me to keep hot but it is a good time to start one now..

8. Put CORN GLUTEN down in your veggie garden paths. It is a PRE-EMERGENT for controlling weed seeds and is ORGANIC. You can order it from The Feed Bin here in Santa Fe. BUT if your weeds are up already, it acts as a fertilizer. (It is very high in nitrogen and that is why it burns the seedlings but will also feed weeds that get established). Don’t put in veggie beds where you will be planting any seeds as it will burn any seeds

9. Now you can plant carrots, shallots, beets, lettuces, spinach, all greens, onions, and garlic OUTSIDE. I will still use some row cover to protect them at night.

10. Speaking of ROW COVER, now is the time to get some from our local nurseries. MOST of them carry it (but not Home Depot or Lowes-no big box stores). The nurseries usually sell out. I would get some heavy weight for now and a lighter weight for summer or get the lighter weight and double it up for now. You can also order it online. Just google: row cover.

That’s it-Get busy!