About Boneset: In spite of the name, Boneset has no connection to broken bones. Early settlers used this plant in the treatment of dengue or “break-bone” fever, which is carried by mosquitoes and causes muscular pain so horrific it feels like bones are breaking. Though its medicinal effectiveness has been debated in recent years, it was once used as a cure-all for the common cold, coughs, and various other complaints. During colonial times, boneset was one of the most well-known healing plants in America.
Boneset Germination: Direct sow in late fall, pressing the seeds into the surface of the soil since they need light to germinate. For spring planting, mix the seeds with moist sand and store in the refrigerator for 60 days before direct sowing. To start indoors, scatter the seed on the surface of the soil in a flat; compress the soil slightly and keep it lightly moist until germination, which is naturally slow but should take place within 2-3 months. Keep the soil consistently moist, and transplant seedlings as soon as they reach a height of several inches.
Growing Boneset Seeds: Keep seedlings watered, since they need even moisture in their first year of development; they may not bloom until their second year of growth. Mature plants can tolerate drought, though they reach their full potential in moist, well-drained soil. This plant may spread by rhizomes and self-seeding, and can be divided after several years of growth. Cut the plant down to the ground after the first frost. This plant attracts butterflies and bees.
Harvesting Boneset: For fresh flowers, cut long stems of flowers that have just opened and place them in water immediately; strip the leaves that will fall below the water. If using the plant as an herb, keep in mind that it is toxic when fresh and must be dried before use; the health benefits of this plant have not been proven, so use with caution.
Saving Boneset Seeds: Late in the season, these fuzzy flowers will begin to turn dull brown. Snip off entire heads and spread them out in a protected location to prevent the light seed from blowing away. When the heads have completely dried, shake them to remove the seed. The fluff attached to the seeds does not affect germination. Store the seeds in a cool, dry place.
Detailed Boneset Info: Origin: US Native Other Common Names: Thoroughwort, Feverwort, Agueweed, Indian Sage Duration: Perennial Bloom Time: Summer Height: 36-48 inches Spacing: 18-24 inches Light: Full Sun to Part Shade Soil Moisture: Moist to Wet USDA Zone: 3a-9b Seeds Per Oz: 143,000 Produces hairy, triangular leaves and loose, flat clusters of ¼” fuzzy white flowers.