By: Jackie Carroll
While not a conventionally beautiful plant, angelica attracts attention in the garden because of its imposing nature. The individual purple flowers are quite small, but they bloom in large clusters similar to Queen Anne’s lace, creating a striking display. Propagating angelica plants is a great way to enjoy them in the garden. Angelica is best grown in groups with other large plants. It combines well with ornamental grasses, large dahlias, and giant alliums.
When attempting angelica propagation, you should be aware that growing angelica cuttings is difficult because the stems usually fail to root. Instead, start new plants from angelica seeds or divisions of two or three year old plants. The plants bloom every other year, so plant angelica in two consecutive years for a constant supply of flowers.
Angelica seeds grow best when planted as soon as they mature. When they are nearly ripe, fasten a paper bag over the flower head to catch the seeds before they fall to the ground.
Use peat or fiber pots so that you won’t have to disturb the sensitive roots when you transplant the seedlings into the garden.
Press the seeds gently onto the surface of the soil. They need light to germinate, so don’t cover them with soil. Place the pots in a bright location with temperatures between 60 and 65 degrees F. (15-18 C.) and keep the soil moist.
If you are propagating angelica plants from dried seeds, they need some special treatment. Sow several seeds on the surface of each peat pot. They have a low germination rate and using several seeds in each pot helps insure that seedlings will germinate.
After sowing angelica seeds, place the peat pots in a plastic bag and refrigerate them for two to three weeks. Once you bring them out of the refrigerator, treat them as you would fresh seeds. If more than one seedling germinates in a pot, clip out the weakest seedlings with scissors.
Divide angelica plants when they are two or three years old. Cut the plants back to about a foot (31 cm.) from the ground to make them easy to handle.
Drive a sharp spade in to the center of the plant or lift the entire plant and divide the roots with a sharp knife. Replant the divisions immediately, spacing them 18 to 24 inches (46-61 cm.) apart.
An easier method of angelica propagation is to allow the plants to self-seed. If you have mulched around the plant, pull the mulch back so that the seeds that fall will come in direct contact with the soil. Leave the spent flower heads on the plant so that the seeds can mature. When growing conditions are ideal, the seeds will germinate in spring.
Now that you know how to propagate angelica, you can continue to enjoy these plants each year.
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Angelica Archangelica Flower
The name Angelica derives from its connection to angels including Michael the Archangel. Read more on the History of Angelica.
Biennial or Perennial Herb
Believed to be a native of Syria and has since spread to many cool European climates becoming naturalized in Lapland and the Alps
Frequently 3 feet in length
New growth has red stems and green foliage
White (most common), yellowish or greenish in color, small and numerous, displayed in large roundish umbels
Angelica reportedly has healing powers, and is used in herbal medicine for a variety of ailments. The use of Angelica dates back to the time of the Great Plague. In this article, we will discuss the herb Angelica - its history, uses, propagation and preservation.
Angelica is said to bloom on May 8th, which is the feast day for St. Michael the Archangel. The Latin name, Angelica Archangelica, shows this connection. Angelica is believed to have magical powers of healing and protection. In 1665, during the great plague, a monk is said to have been visited by an angel in his dreams. The angel told the monk that angelica would cure the plague.
The College of Physicians in London proclaimed it an official remedy, and called it "the King's Majesty's Excellent Recipe for the plague." Nutmeg, treacle and angelica water were beaten together and then heated. The potion was given to those suffering from the plague to drink twice a day. Research does not show any results from the use of angelica for the plague, but its use continued on. People took angelica remedies for everything from rabies to pleurisy. Prepared in a syrup, it was proclaimed as a digestive aid. It was claimed to help poor eyesight and deafness, and was often poured into the ear.
Angelica is still used today for a variety of things, including use in cooking. It is recommended that women who are pregnant and people with diabetes not use angelica. For diabetes, it can raise the blood sugar count.
For cooking, many parts of the Angelica plant can be used. The stalks and leaves are used in salads. The stalks and stems are often candied, and used for decorating candies and cakes. The candied stems are often added to jams and jellies. You can even cook the stems - either fresh or dried - and use them as you would any vegetable.
Angelica's curative properties today are seen as natural cures for indigestion, flatulence, bloating and gas of the stomach. It is said to warm the body during the winter, whether eaten or used in an herbal tea. Herbologists report that the tea can be made of any part of the plant, but that you must insure that when making an infusion, to only use one part of the plant at a time, such as seeds or leaves or stems.
How Angelica Grows
Angelica is best propagated from seed. A biennial, it grows to heights of 4 to 6 feet - even higher if conditions are right. Angelica is also called wild celery, masterwort and dang gui (China). Its habitats are rich thickets, bottomlands, moist cool woodlands, stream banks and shady roadsides. It grows prolifically in eastern North America. It ranges from Newfoundland to Tennessee, and as far west as Iowa. The plant can be identified by its tall stature, its smooth, dark purple, hollow stem 1 to 2 inches round with dark green leaves divided into three parts. The larger, lower leaves can grow to 2 feet in diameter. The flowers of Angelica resemble Queen Anne's Lace, with flowers small and numerous, usually yellowish or greenish-white, and are grouped in large compound umbels. Angelica will bloom in mid-July. When finished blooming, they produce pale yellow fruit that is oblong. These pods, 1/16" to 1/4", when ripened can be 8" to 10" in diameter.
Angelica requires fertile, moist loam to grow well. It should be properly shaded, although it has been known to grow in full sun. It should be started to grow before last frost, and then transplanted outdoors. The seeds picked from Angelica are best planted fresh, but have been known to propagate when kept in a freezer. It dies after the second year if allowed to go to seed.
How To Preserve Angelica
There are several methods to preserving Angelica. Handle the seeds as you would any herb. The root is sliced into thin slices, and steeped in water for three days. Change the water each day. Then, place the roots in a crockpot and add water to cover. Next day, drain water, add 2 pounds of sugar and 2 quarts of water to each pound of root. When boiled thoroughly, remove roots and continue to boil sugar and water to make a heavy syrup. Can as you would any vegetable.
Things To Remember
Don't use angelica if pregnant or breastfeeding. If you have diabetes, you should avoid angelica, or at the very least consult with your doctor.
When gathering angelica in the wild, be very careful that you don't mistake it for water hemlock, which looks almost like angelica. Water hemlock is an extremely poisonous plant and if taken by mistake, requires immediate attention.
As with all herbs, use carefully, and fully educate yourself in their use. You may be pleasantly surprised at how good they can make you feel.
Binomial Name: Angelica archangelica
Angelica has a long tradition of use as a general tonic herb for women, children, and the elderly. It is said to strengthen the heart and provide an antidote against general debility. According to legend, Angelica was revealed in a dream by an angel to cure the plague. All parts of the plant were believed effective against evil spirits, and Angelica was held in such esteem that it was called 'The Root of the Holy Ghost.' In America it was used by the Iroquois and other tribes in ceremonial medicine, and in traditional lore an infusion of smashed roots was used as wash to remove ghosts from the house.
well-drained, but moist, loamy soil
partial shade to full sun
Angelica grows primarily upwards to a height of 3 feet, and will produce large umbels of yellow-green flowers.
Angelica is not difficult to germinate, but may take several weeks. It is best started in late summer or early fall, but can be started in early spring. To improve germination rates and seedling viability, stratification and indoor starting are recommended.
Prefers partial shade to full sun, and grows better with light, well-drained soil or moist loam. Angelica is adaptable to varying light levels, but grows best in partial shade in proximity to water.
Angelica archangelica is a light-dependant germinator, so lightly tamp seeds into top surface of soil (1/4" or less deep) or cover lightly with a thin layer of soil. Flat can be placed outdoors as the alternating cool and warm temperatures will help promote germination. Do not place outside if expecting a fall or spring freeze. Instead the seeds can be placed into a refrigerator overnights and removed in the mornings to simulate this temperature cycle. During this stratification period, make sure seeds receive adequate water to prevent dessication, but not so much as to promote fungus.
After this period of stratification, seed flats can be brought indoors for warmer temperature to promote germination. With heat and moisture, seeds should begin germinating within 10 days. When plants reach height of 3-4", they are ready to be transplanted outside. Space plants at least 12" apart to allow for plant growth, and allow 36" between rows.
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Angelica plants can be used in either cottage or informal garden landscapes, as flower borders or in flower beds. Select a location where the angelica plant will be shaded during the hottest hours of the day. To thrive, angelicas need an abundance of water, but good drainage is also essential. Angelica plants should be well sheltered and either north-, east- or west-facing. Start fresh angelica seeds in containers, and transplant when young and small older mature plants do not respond well to disturbance. Space angelicas 3 feet apart.
Angelica grows in a variety of soil conditions, but prefers soil with either a neutral or slightly acidic pH. Test your soil if you don't know its pH level. Angelica will grow in sandy, loamy or clay soils, although the plant thrives in moist, loamy soil. If your soil is drier, applying a layer of mulch or working organic matter into the soil will provide Angelica plants the moisture they need to grow and develop.
The first year after you plant an angelica, it will produce mainly large leaves. In its second year, the angelica will grow taller and develop a flowering stalk. After flowering, prune angelica plants. Angelicas contain furocoumarin, which can increase skin sensitivity to sunlight or cause dermatitis, so be careful when working with the plant.
Pests and diseases can drastically reduce the yield of harvested parts and esthetic appeal of angelica herb. Learning how to protect the plants is an essential part of growing them.
Slugs and snails are of moderate importance as pests to Angelica archangelica when the plant is young. These insects are threats to the herb's leaves. Silvery mucous trails confirm their presence. If necessary, control these pests with blasts of water or an insecticidal soap.
Other common angelica pests include red spider mites, aphids, and leaf miners.
Viral and fungal diseases such as powdery mildew and leaf spot may attack leaves in late summer. Fungicides may be used to eradicate them.
|Plant Habit:||Herb/Forb |
|Life cycle:||Biennial |
|Sun Requirements:||Full Sun |
Full Sun to Partial Shade
Partial or Dappled Shade
|Water Preferences:||Mesic |
|Minimum cold hardiness:||Zone 4a -34.4 °C (-30 °F) to -31.7 °C (-25 °F) |
|Maximum recommended zone:||Zone 11 |
|Plant Height :||to 6 feet (180 cm)|
|Plant Spread :||3 feet (90 cm)|
|Flower Color:||Green |
Other: Green white
|Bloom Size:||4"-5" |
|Flower Time:||Late spring or early summer |
|Suitable Locations:||Bog gardening |
|Uses:||Culinary Herb |
|Edible Parts:||Stem |
|Eating Methods:||Tea |
|Wildlife Attractant:||Bees |
|Resistances:||Deer Resistant |
|Propagation: Seeds:||Self fertile |
Sow in situ
Can handle transplanting
|Pollinators:||Various insects |
|Containers:||Suitable in 3 gallon or larger |
|Miscellaneous:||Goes Dormant |
Do you want to attract bees, butterflies, and/or hummingbirds to your garden? The best way to lure pollinators into your garden is to plant things they love. Pollinators love wildflowers. These are a few of my favorites that are loved by pollinators and are easy to grow.
This is considered a hardy biennial. In northern climates it can get quite large, but here in the south it might grow to about 1 foot tall at best. This plant doesn't really like southern heat, so it is not the best choice, but apparently I like a challenge, and I will continue to try growing it, although I failed in my last efforts. The hard part is finding fresh seeds when they are best to plant, in August.
Often called the "herb of the angels" and the "root of the holy spirit," this is an edible and medicinal herb. In folklore it was associated with the Archangel Michael, and during the Great Plague in the 17th century the roots were chewed for protection against the infection. It was also used as a blood purifier. The roots, leaves, seeds, and stems are also edible. It can be sown from ripe seeds, which are best planted in August, or propagated by root division. For culinary purposes, the stems and leaves are best harvested in June. Young stems are candied in sugar. The seeds and roots have been used in making liqueurs.
Angelica is a biennial. Plants can be perennial if prevented from setting seed.
Medicinal herb which may be used for menstrual pains, anemia, fatigue, anorexia, thrombosis, psoriasis, arthritis, and gland swelling. Legend claims angelica was revealed by Archangel Michael to cure the plague. This is an absolute bee-magnet when blooming. I have had good luck simply letting some of the seeds mature and shaking them around when ripe. In the early spring, it is easy to thin the new seedlings and to also limit the number of second year seedlings to maintain a steady population.
Vinegar of the Four Brigands: Finely chop 2 oz of rosemary, sage, peppermint, and angelica root. Place in large jar and steep in wine vinegar for 2 weeks. Take by spoonful internally for infectious diseases, and use the vinegar externally to disinfect and cleanse. This was used during the Black Plague.