Adaptogens are a wonderful group of herbs to work with, and they can make really nice garden and landscape plants, too. I’ve been experimenting with several: eleuthero, rhodiola, he shou wu, holy basil, codonopsis, and jiaogulan.
Most adaptogens will do best out in a garden setting, but several can also be grown in containers outdoors, but even if you don’t have a garden or any outdoor space there’s one adaptogen that you can actually grow as a houseplant!
That would be jiaogulan (Gynostemma pentaphyllum). It’s a vine that can grow up to 20 feet long outdoors, but if you keep it indoors you can harvest it whenever it starts to get too long.
I keep mine in a hanging basket on the patio so I can bring it inside over the winter, and so far it’s actually been pretty well behaved.
Here are some tips for growing jiaogulan indoors that were in the seed catalog when I bought my jiaogulan (I bought mine over at Strictly Medicinal Seeds, but you can also find it at Michigan Bulb). These tips are working well for me!
- Water every 3-5 days. Jiaogulan doesn’t like to be dry.
- Give it plenty of natural light (by keeping it on a windowsill or in a sun room)
- Feed it weekly with compost tea, liquid kelp, or mycoblast.
- If you set it outdoors in summer make sure to keep it shaded.
- Trim the vines when they get too long and make some tea!
The best part of keeping jiaogulan as a houseplant is using it to make tea. Whenever my plant needs a trim, I either hang the cut vines or spread them out on a coffee filter and let them dry for a day or two. Once they are completely dry, I crumble them up and store them in a glass canning jar.
Jiaogulan has many of the same compounds that are found in ginseng, but it is much easier and faster to grow. It tastes good by itself, but I also like mixing it with green tea. Not bad for a houseplant, eh?
All the best,