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About Marsh Mallow: Until the mid 1800s, Marsh Mallow acted as the thickening agent for the candy known as marshmallows. Confectioners would whip the juice of the root along with egg whites and sugar to make what was then a tasty medicine for children; the soothing, softening effect relieved sore throats and coughs. Other medicinal uses included poultices to reduce inflammation, a cream to soothe skin irritation, and a syrup to treat stomach ulcers or indigestion. The sweet, parsnip like root was eaten as a vegetable in ancient Rome as well as in Middle Eastern countries, being a source of food in famine. Marsh Mallow naturally grows in marshes or near sea coasts.
Marsh Mallow Germination: Direct sow the seed in late summer or early fall; the seed will remain dormant until spring. If not planted in the fall, Marsh Mallow seeds will need to be stratified to break their dormancy. Mix the seed with an equal amount of sand and store it in the refrigerator for 4-6 weeks. Start the seeds indoors in a flat, just below the surface. Keep the soil evenly moist and at a temperature of 70 degrees F until sprouting. The germination rate may be naturally low. As soon as the seedlings can be safely handled and there is no chance of frost, transplant them 18-24" apart. Marsh mallow prefers moist to wet soil and full sun, though it also adapts to well-drained soil. Plants can also be propagated by division.
Growing Marsh Mallow Seeds: Since marsh mallow naturally grows in marshy ground, the plants will need to be watered well to keep the soil moist. A layer of mulch will help conserve moisture and control weeds. Established plants will self seed, but volunteer plants can easily be transplanted or removed. This plant attracts hummingbirds, bees, and butterflies.
Harvesting Marsh Mallow: The sweet, thick taproot of Marsh Mallow can be harvested in the autumn from plants of at least two years growth. If a few small roots are left on the plant, it will continue to grow. Eaten fresh as a vegetable, the roots have a taste similar to a parsnip. They can also be dried for later use. The leaves can be harvested individually and used fresh or dried for tea, poultices, or tinctures.
Saving Marsh Mallow Seeds: After the flowers fade, a seed pod will develop. When the pods begin to dry and the seeds inside ripen to a brown, remove the pods individually and spread them out to dry. Separate the seed from the pods and store the cleaned seed in a cool, dry place.
Detailed Marsh Mallow Info: Origin: Europe Other Common Names: Common Marshmallow, White Mallow Duration: Perennial Bloom Time: Fall Height: 24-48 inches Spacing: 18-24 inches Light: Full Sun Soil Moisture: Wet USDA Zone: 3a-9b Seeds Per Oz: 12,000 Produces downy, maple-shaped leaves with serrated edges, and pale pink to crimson blooms 2-3" in diameter.
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