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Need recommendations for a zone 9 “witch’s garden”

Migrated topic.


I live in Zone 8b (15°F to 20°F)/Zone 9a (20°F to 25°F lows) according to the USDA. Lows aren’t really that extreme, and if it does get that cold only for a day or two. More like 30F is a consistent yearly low in my experience. Specifically the northern Willamette valley in Oregon, US. have a lot of space to grow stuff both on ground and in raised beds. A life long dream has been to have a witch’s garden, or one in which all plants are medicines, poisons or entheogens. I would love some recommendations on what i can grow. Obviously some cannabis clones are going in, but what else?
Trichocereus cacti would likely do well there. From what I understand of your climate, the late spring thru early fall are almost desert dry. These cacti normally “hibernate” during the winter, so if you plant them in in pots, you could bring them inside house/greenhouse when the fall rains start. Plenty of propagation/growing info on the net.

Poppies would do well, but may not be worth the temptation for some.

For plants, that valley is limited only by growing season length, which can be extended on both ends by various hort techniques. Tropical trees, though, would be a stretch. Lol
Depends what witchy means for you, and how far you want to go with that. It's a pretty open-ended question in a way.

Some would argue it wouldn't be witchy without some mandrake or Jimson weed.

I'd suggest mugwort, lemon balm (maybe in pots, it's very invasive), various kinds of mint (also in pots), motherwort, the list goes on. You may notice a few changa base herbs there. If so, you could add mullein - and how about some mallow? If there's a damp area it maybe suited to some Phalaris. I'd also grow (Japanese) calamus by a boggy bit.

It's surely nice to have some of the traditional garden herbs like lavender, rosemary, sage (not to mention a wide range of other interesting Salvia species), marjoram, savory, parsley, fennel, and maybe tarragon, wormwood and southernwood too. A blackcurrant bush might be nice too, with the MAOI properties of the juice. And speaking of MAOI, you could do worse than growing some passionflower. P. caerulea should fare well enough in the right spot - and how about some morning glories to keep it company?

The rest boils down to whatever molecular or aesthetic targets you might happen to have.

Equally important, perhaps, is spending a good while getting to know what all the wild plants are that are growing there already. That aspect would be something that you'd be best off familiarizing yourself with with the help of someone with a depth of local knowledge and would go hand-in-hand with spending a year or two getting accustomed to the nuances of all the different areas, nooks, and crannies of the piece of land you'll be working with.
downwardsfromzero said:
Equally important, perhaps, is spending a good while getting to know what all the wild plants are that are growing there already. That aspect would be something that you'd be best off familiarizing yourself with with the help of someone with a depth of local knowledge and would go hand-in-hand with spending a year or two getting accustomed to the nuances of all the different areas, nooks, and crannies of the piece of land you'll be working with.

This is a great point, likely some of the plants suggested are growing wild locally. A couple of field guides for your area can really help and are, I believe, foundations of a good personal library. I recommend four guidebooks dealing with: Trees & Shrubs, Medicinal Plants, Edible Plants, and if you can, Psychoactive Plants (Theres a .pdf of the Golden Guide to Hallucinogenic Plants easily found)

There are great suggestions above, I second all the plants mentioned, and here's some I have to add. Mostly perennials. Plants are awesome. They may or may not be USDA hardiness zone appropriate.

Shrubs / trees / vines:
Elderberry - Native elderberry, Sambucus canadensis is a good choice, also consider the European elderberry, Sambucus nigra which has beautiful black leaves, deeply serrated.
Witch hazel - Hamamelis spp. It's witch hazel
Harry Lauder's Walking Stick - Corylus avellana 'Contorta' this is a sterile hazelnut cultivar that has such wild twisted growth, super cool
Malus spp. - Apple trees - standard full size or dwarf. Garden of Eden and all that...
Honeysuckle vine
Mistletoe - Grown as a parasite on oak, which may be on your property, important to druids
Roses - Rosa spp., Some amazing witchy colors, a long history of symbolism, heavenly scents, dangerous thorns, medicinal rose hips, stand along bushes, trellis climbing giants, they can offer a lot.
Russian and Autumn Olive - Elaeagnus angustifolia and E. umbellata, invasive, non-native shrubs. edible fruit, though quite astringent. please, don't plant. but if you have them, chop 'em and extract as they contain harmala alkaloids. russian olive status ? - Harmalas - Welcome to the DMT-Nexus & Autumn Olive (E. umbellata) Workspace - Collaborative Research Project - Welcome to the DMT-Nexus

Perennial plants:
Hellebores - Available in some 'witchy' colors
Jack-in-the-Pulpit - Arisaema triphyllum, North American native - edible / toxic
Stinging nettle - Urtica dioica, if you plant it, it will be forever, so be sure it's where you want. If you have it already, make the best of it! Medicinal, edible, useful as cordage
Yarrow - Achillea millefolium, medicinal, US native
Monkshood / Wolf's Bane - Aconitum napellus, toxic
Comfrey - Symphytum officinale, Medicinal. Like nettle, plant it where you are ok with it being forever. Can self sow, I recommend a sterile cultivar. Easily propagated with root pieces.
Henbane - Hyoscyamus niger, very witchy. Used for flying potions. Toxic.
Belladonna / Deadly Nightshade - Atropa belladonna, also very witchy. Toxic / medicinal
St. Johns Wort - Hypericum spp., medicinal, weak MAOI(?)
Horehound - Marrubium vulgare, medicinal
Bloodroot - Sanguinaria canadensis, medicinal. Flesh of the root looks like it's bloody. Really cool.
Black cohosh - Cimicifuga racemosa, medicinal
Valerian - Valeriana officinalis, medicinal.
Tansy - Tanacetum vulgare, medicinal, toxic - should be culled where livestock is present
Lavender - Lavendula spp., aromatic, wards against Evil Eye ;)
Arnica - Arnica montana, medicinal
Wintergreen - Gaultheria procumbens, medicinal, edible berries, dried leaves for changa are beautifully minty

Annuals / biennials:
Hollyhocks - Alcea rosea, biennial, flowers in second year. medicinal
Castor bean - Ricinus communis, 'tender perennial' (dies below 32F), toxic
Calendula - Calendula officinalis, annual medicinal plant with a nice flower
Tobacco - Nicotiana spp., some varieties are beautifully scented, some you can smoke (N. tobacum (ciggy tobacco), N. rustica (tobacco used in ayahuasca ceremonies), some you probably can but maybe shouldn't (N. sylvestris, N. alata), contains β-carboline alkaloids, annual
Foxglove - Digitalis purpurea, biennial, self-seeding, toxic
Evening Primrose - Oenothera biennis, biennial, medicinal, edible
German chamomile - Matricaria chamomilla, medicinal, changa, annual
null24 said:
Tony6Strings said:
Spawn a woodchip bed with Ps. Cyans!!!
For sure! It’ll provably have to wait until next year unless i can spawn some prints or something. I want indoor cubes too!

Indoor cubes is my psychedelic passion at the moment!! I've got prints for you buddy!!
My garden is zone 9a probably, with wet winters. Still, cacti do reasonably well.

T. peruvianus is the hardiest of them all. Bridgesii and pachanoi rot around the base sometimes (strangely more common in summer than winter), maybe they need better air flow and drainage. Winter cold doesn't seem to be much of a problem, unless it reaches the zone's extremes.

I also grow Acacias: maidenii, floribunda and retinodes, of the ones I've read to have shamanic value.

I second Ps. cyanescens.

A cold brugmansia, like sanguinea, may survive lower temps than the warm ones.
Brugmansia - Angeles Trumpet
Datura Inoxia - Devils Trumpet
Datura Metal
Moon Flowers - Ipomoea alba
Monkshood -Aconitum napellus
In the Willamette Valley T. terscheckii will be your best bet in terms of Trichocereus surviving the winter. It is one of the most cold hardy of the active Trichocereus. Validus would also be a good candidate.

I know someone who overwintered a Pachanoi in the ground in a sheltered spot in their yard near Salem. It survived but took damage and they decided to transfer it to a pot so that it could be brought into the basement for future winters.

I'm in a true 9b climate where the coldest winter temps only ever dip into the upper 20's briefly on the coldest nights. And my cactus have been damaged by the cold at their growth tips, especially the Bridgesii. They really don't like temps dropping below freezing, especially for an extended period of time. Terscheckii and related species like Validus will be your best bet. They will survive your temps and they have good activity, but they grow slowly.
Chokeberry (aronia melanocarpa) and elderberry (sambucus canadensis) are low to no maintenance in my zone 5, and though they take up a lot of space, I see dried berries fetching some nice prices on Etsy, if you produce more than you can use. Coneflower (echinacea purpurea) and osha (ligusticum porteri) would make a nice addition for root harvesting. And if you have a well draining and shaded hillside, it might be worth an attempt at american ginseng (panax quinquefolius), though it’s many years to harvest and success is rare - bulk seeds are cheep, which would allow for a lot of experimentation.

Edit: I have found wild valerian (valeriana officinalis) and mormon tea (ephedra nevadensis) growing in your area ( valerian in forested mountain valleys and ephedra in a dry scrubby field) I’ll check back in if I can remember any others; it’s been twenty years since I’ve been out that way.

Edit 2.0: Passiflora incarnata are not that difficult to germinate (be persistent as it can sometimes take many weeks in warm, moist soil after scoring or acid washing the seeds) and though they’re not reported to contain much in the way of harmalas, they are reported to potentiate as if they do. This is another that can return on investment, as the foliage is used for teas, but the fruits are only mediocre culinarily, and a single vine can produce many hundreds (thousands for a healthy vine) of valuable seeds. They can also vine over other bushes without choking them out, saving space.

Edit 2.1: All of these have lovely flowers, especially the passionflower.
*Cactus ! Pach, bridgesii, scopulicola , terschekii , peyotes... - i water them abundantly in the summer, if i want them to grow. But because the winter are cold and wet, if they are unprotected, this can back-fire and they can rot if they are too happy... so there's a balance point here... letting them struggle a bit make them hardier =)

*Acacia : floribunda, acuminata, ... (i'm still confused as which one is "best" in this climate, if someone can shine some light here...)
Floribunda is growing magnificiently in zone 8 here ... (acuminata has a much harder time to take off in my case)

*Artemisia Vulgaris changed my life, dragging me deeper and deeper into the Dream World

*Morning glory

Thanks for all the other ideas =)
The input in this is great, much appreciated.
Time and money are both at a premium right now but i don’t anticipate that to last long, and I’m thinking right now of putting a free daturas and brugmansia in, passiflira and of course MGs. I’d like to find locally or if not order datura and brug starts.
Think I’ll poke around for some cactus too, but doubt I’ll be here long enough to really see them grow. It’s just a rental but I’m hoping for a good grow season at least… I’ll post pics as i get it going.

OK… grow tips?
The time to start your passionflower and morning glory is now. I literally bought heavenly blues from the dollar tree (three seed packs for $1.25) a couple weeks ago, so super available. Morning glories need to be warm to germinate and need a long season to get harvestable pods - I’m starting mine in paper pots indoors this year as I always manage to get hundreds of gorgeous flowers, but the weather freezes them before I get pods. They’re supposed to be notoriously difficult to transplant, but I’m betting a larger biodegradable pot will suffice without worry.

Passionflower seeds should get lightly abraded on the surface and/or soaked in something about as acidic as orange juice overnight, if you want them to germinate in the first season, as the seed skins are fairly tough. Again, this is a warm weather germination. We call them Maypops around here, as they don’t show growth until the soil is quite warm, and then they explode with growth, if vining from mature rootstock. You will probably need some patience with germination, here. I would keep these in pots and keep them moist for their first growing season, and then let them winter outdoors but maybe covered with leaves or something to keep ice off of them. The vine dies back every winter and I’d expect them to be pretty small until their second year. I wouldn’t worry about putting them in the ground at that point, as the roots live many years and can be handily transplanted if you end up elsewhere.

Both of these vines flourish in well draining soil that’s kept mostly moist and in full sun. I bought a 6’x100’ roll of hog wire about 15 years ago that comes in handy for plants like these - a 4’ diameter circle of this works awesome, but you could be creative with some gardening twine and make a psychedelic trellis, just as well.

I usually run across a wild datura at least once a year and can’t imagine needing more than a pod or two, so I’m no help there. And if you’ve already got datura, brugmansia seems redundant except for the stunning bouquet and heady scent.
roninsina said:
brugmansia seems redundant except for the stunning bouquet and heady scent.
Brugmansia is a great plant to grow - not for the eating but, as you say, the flowers and scent are stunning. Mine was so grateful for a bit of extra nurturing last year, it made three decent flushes of flowers with the first flush being over seventy blooms open at once on a five foot shrub. The scent would kick in at 5.30 every evening through the summer and, with that many flowers, we could smell it inside the house with the door shut. A plant with real character.
Really great to read, I didn't know so many here were growers!

I'm in nothern europe and have quite a lot of plants in my garden, some that could be of use for a witch :)

Checking out your recommendations now.
null24 said:
It’s just a rental but I’m hoping for a good grow season at least… I’ll post pics as i get it going.

OK… grow tips?

How's the garden growing?

Got a moderate to severe drought going on here. Morning glories are unhappy, I don't expect a seed harvest. I grew a couple dozen poppies (P. somniferum), not sure if I'll do anything with them, but they're beautiful! The cannabis plants are thriving, they're in an outdoor bed I've been building quality soil in over the past three years. Last year nine plants yielded 5.5 pounds of flower, this year I have eleven in ground and four kept in 5 gallon pots. I got them in the ground perhaps a full month earlier this year. They're in flowering stage now and a few are over 8 feet tall. I was in trim jail for a month of spare time last year! It was heavenly. 😁

I'm trying Psilocybe natalensis indoor cultivation, just spawned to bulk this week. Cubes have done well indoors this summer, none of the spent cakes I bury in the compost pile have popped up.

How are other witchy / psychoactive gardens doing?
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