I love to make a cold infusion of marshmallow when I have a sore or irritated throat. It’s also great for adding to infusions that are on the dry side, like nettles, to balance it out with it’s moistening properties.
You already know how to grow it and I really hope you consider adding it to your garden this year, so let’s talk about harvesting!
The leaves and flowers can be harvested throughout the growing season. Make sure they’re healthy and at their peak. They can be dried on a screen or in a dehydrator on the “herb” setting. Though they aren’t as mucilaginous as the root, they’re still soothing and moistening. Make sure they’re fully dried before storing them in an airtight container out of direct sun.
You’ll want to harvest the roots in the fall or winter for the highest mucilage content. This is generally done after 2 years of growth, but I’ve been forced to harvest roots during the first years’ growth, and though they weren’t the biggest, they were perfectly fine. Don’t get caught up in being perfect! Feel free to cut the roots off the crown of the plant and plant the crowns back in soil. We have very cold temperatures here, so I would probably do this in a pot if it’s late in the season. But if you have warmer temps and a year-round growing season, you may see it come back that same year. Feel free to gather seeds and toss them where you want them, or store them in a small jar to start in late winter/early spring for replanting outdoors.
Growing Althaea is quite satisfying, easy and rewarding. She is such a beautiful addition to any herb garden and a generous spirit with her moistening and cooling character! ??