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Prunella Plant Growing & Care Guide for Gardeners

Article by Dean Ravenscroft, Ph.D. - Updated 7th Nov 2023

In this Gardener's HQ guide, we'll explore cultivating Prunella plants in your garden, indoor spaces, and other settings.

At a Glance: Prunella
  • Plant Characteristics: Prunella species boast robust, purplish flowers that attract pollinators. They can make a resilient choice for ground cover.
  • Ideal Growing Conditions: DO best in a full to partial sun location with moist, well-draining soil. They adapt well to a wide range of conditions.
  • General Care: Low maintenance requiring minimal care once established. Seldom need division.
  • Tips for New Gardeners: Self-heal is forgiving for novices, and spreads easily, making it a garden favorite. That said you may wish to monitor growth to prevent unwanted spread, perhaps consider growing it a contained area.

Self heal: Cultivation & Garden Use

Prunella are mat growing hardy perennials. They range from 15 to 30 cm (6 to 8 inches) in height.

They bloom from spring through to autumn. In bloom, they carry hooded clusters of small flowers. These are usually blue or purple in color.

Their size makes Prunella great for using in rock gardens, or for growing in a garden border.

The common name for Prunella is Self Heal.

Prunella grandiflora
Prunella grandiflora by Nuuuuuuuuuuul.

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Prunella Growing and Care Guide

  • Common Names: Self heal, Heal-all, All-heal.
  • Life Cycle: Hardy perennial.
  • Height: 6 to 12 inches (30 cm).
  • Native: North and Central America, Europe, Asia and North Africa.
  • Growing Region: Zones 6 to 9.
  • Flowers: Spring through to autumn.
  • Flower Details: Blue, purple; can be pink or white. Clustered. Tiny. Hooded.
  • Fruit: Small red berries. Summer through autumn.
  • Foliage: Evergreen. Mat forming. Mint-like. Petiolate. Narrow ovate. Stiff stem.
  • Sow Outside: Cover seed. Start of spring - before the last frost.
  • Sow Inside: Germination time: one to two months. Temperature: 55 to 65°F (13—18°C). About 2 months in advance. Transplant outdoors in spring. Spacing 12 to 18 inches (30—45 cm).
  • Requirements and care: Full sunlight or partial shade in hotter areas. Soil pH 6 to 7.5. Moist soil. Tolerates dry soil in cooler regions. Regular watering during prolonged dry spells in warmer areas.
    Cut back to the ground once flowering has completed. Propagate: by dividing in the spring autumn; self-seeds freely and may become invasive.
  • Family: Lamiaceae.
  • Closely Related Species: Mints and Sages.
  • Miscellaneous: Many species are lawn-weeds and can be difficult to control as they are resistant to many lawn weed killers; the plant is useful the rock garden, in borders, and is often grown for its herbal properties.
    Has long been used in Europe as a ‘treat all’ plant, hence its name; where it was used in the treatment of wounds, burns, heart conditions and even as an anti-cancer agents.
    In traditional Chinese medication it is used in an herbal drink to treat liver complaints. Self heal was traditionally used by indigenous North Americans to treat boils, cuts and inflammations.

How to Grow Self Heal and Other Prunella Species

Sow the seeds of Self Heal and other Prunella members outside at the start of spring before the last frost.

The seeds should be lightly coved once sown. Ideally they should grow in a soil of pH 6 to 7.5.

Prunella plants can grow in both sunny and partially shaded locations of the garden.

If starting off indoors, then do so about ten weeks in advance. They should be transplanted outdoors in the spring.

It should take from one to two months for the seeds to germinate at a temperature of 12 to 18 degrees centigrade (54 to 64°F).

Once the seedlings are ready, transplant outdoors with a spacing of about 30 to 45 cm (12 to 18 inches).

Caring for Prunella

It is easy to grow and look after Prunella species in the garden. They require regular deadheading of old flowers to maintain attractiveness, and to encourage further blooming.

Once the flowering season is over, cut the plant back to ground level.

It is a good idea to plant Prunella in a confined area of the garden, such as a rock garden, and to control them rigorously, as they can easily take over the garden (especially the lawn).

Common Questions

How many members does the Prunella genus contain?

The genus is relatively small, having a modest seven species.

Do Prunella members make a good garden or landscaping plant?

These hardy perennials are excellent for gardens and landscapes due to their attractive foliage and lovely flower spikes.

Which Prunella species are most frequently grown by gardeners?

The most commonly grown species is Prunella vulgaris, often grown for both its medicinal properties and aesthetic beauty.

Are Prunella plants fragrant?

No, these plants do not emit a strong fragrance.

What is the perfect location to grow Prunella?

This adaptable plant is best grown in full sun to part shade in a well-drained soil. They can tolerate dry and poor soil conditions, but ideally prefer moist environments.

Is Prunella invasive in the USA, if so in which states?

Not usually considered invasive in the USA, but can spread readily in favorable conditions. Prunella vulgaris however, is recently becoming an issue in some areas, so check local regulations before growing it in your garden

How do I remove Self-heal plants from my garden?

You can manually pull Self-heal plants out, ensuring to remove the root system to prevent regrowth. In areas with large infestations, a broad-spectrum herbicide may need to be used.

Summary

The Prunella genus, commonly known as Self-heal, belongs to the Lamiaceae family. These perennial herbs are admired for their attractive purple, blue, or white flowers which appear in dense clusters on upright spikes.

Prunella thrives in full sun to partial shade and prefers well-drained soil. Planting should occur in the spring or fall. Known for their hardy and easy-to-grow nature, these plants are often seen in wildflower gardens or naturalized areas.

I hope that you enjoyed this guide on how to grow Prunella plants. You may also enjoy the following Gardener's HQ growing guides: How to grow Mint, Muskmelon plant, Artemisia plant, and Scutellaria plants.

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