By Emma Di Salvo

It’s hard to believe that a simple plant can actually improve your mental health. Yet throughout history, people have experimented and, in some cases, relied upon the special properties they have to offer—myself included. Why get excited about a pretty bouquet of flowers when you can grow something at home that could improve your quality of life?

My mother has always advocated for using what nature gives us. As a rather anxious child, I would often be given flowers from the garden to help me relax, reground and improve my mood. The plants’ intensity intrigued me, something I didn’t experience with essential oils. I later learned that the flower will almost always be more potent than the oil because they haven’t been through the distillation process

So, if you thoughtfully select plants, knowing a little about what each can be used for, you potentially end up with a rather spectacular collection of plants that can have a positive effect on your overall well-being. Here are three very special plants you might consider growing in your home or garden to help boost your mood and enhance your life.

Relax With Lavender

Who doesn’t love the smell of lavender? Its light and floral scent is a joy to the senses, but more than this, it can be used as a powerful tool to alleviate the symptoms of depression and anxiety. For over 2,500 years, its primary purpose was medicinal. Lavender is a natural antiseptic and is fantastic for burns. 

Nowadays, however, it is more well-known for promoting feelings of calm and inner peace. When I was a child, my mother would pick lavender flowers from our garden, wrap them tightly in tissue and then place the fragrant bundle under my pillow. I would wake the next day having had the best night’s sleep imaginable. Lavender can also be used in cooking (lavender biscuits are a favourite of mine) and, of course, tea. 

To make tea, dry the lavender by hanging a bunch upside down somewhere that is dry, dark and, if possible, warm. Leave them for about 10 days, and depending on the humidity of where you have placed them, they should be ready to go.

Get Rejuvenated With Jasmine

Jasmine has always been a favourite of mine. With its gorgeous floral scent, fruity undertones and pretty white flowers, it is enjoyed by people and cultures worldwide. When inhaled, it gives an uplifting feeling. It’s kinda like getting a kick in the a**! As a child, my Granny would make fresh Jasmine tea if I felt lethargic. It is absolutely delicious and a surefire way to put you in a good mood and get you going. 

Historically, Jasmine has always been seen as a ‘romantic’ plant and has a reputation for being a powerful aphrodisiac. It has even been said to be used in the odd love spell! Unlike Lavender, Jasmine does not need to be dried first. Simply mix a few flowers with green tea and leave overnight in a container with a lid. The tea will become infused with the Jasmine and be ready to enjoy the next day. You can also use the flowers to make face packs and many other beauty products that will leave your skin soft and glowing.

Chamomile Salad, Anyone?

Chamomile (Anthemis Nobilis) is well-known for its therapeutic properties. It has a fruity, apple-like fragrance that promotes relaxation, eases anxiety and aids digestion. The two types most commonly grown at home are German and Roman chamomile. The name “chamomile” derives from the Greek meaning ‘ground apple’ and the Latin ‘nobilis’ which refers to noble flowers. Most people think of chamomile tea when this pretty plant is mentioned and for a good reason. 

However, many people don’t know that you can also eat chamomile. When I was growing up, my mother used the leaves and flowers in salads which was not only delicious but helped ease my “nervous tummy.” It can also be used as a salad dressing. If you want to use chamomile in salads, they can be picked and used straight away; however, to make tea, use the same method as you would for drying lavender. Bear in mind that chamomile may take several weeks to dry completely.

So, there you have it; from nibbling on lavender biscuits to sipping jasmine tea or eating chamomile in your salads, there are many ways to enjoy and get the most out of these three amazing plants. Besides smelling great and pleasing the eye, they have a purpose. Experiment at home with these plants and others to create a little slice of heaven where you can relax, unwind and bask in the aroma of the best that nature offers.