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Cola herb (Artemisia abrotanum) is not only a popular spice, but also a tried and tested medicinal plant. And the best thing is: hobby gardeners can easily cultivate it themselves. You can find out everything about the care and use of cola herb in this article.

In a nutshell

  • Cola herb is suitable for pot and outdoor cultivation
  • Care with little effort and time
  • year-round harvest possible
  • Other names: Cola shrub, stickroot, southernwood, pastor's herb

location

Cola herb can be cultivated both in the garden and on the balcony in pots or tubs. It goes very well alongside other Mediterranean herbs such as lavender, rosemary and thyme. But it also harmonises in combination with low roses or other persistent flowering varieties. In order for the Cola shrub to grow and thrive optimally, the location should meet certain requirements:

  • full sun and warm
  • enough space
  • Planting distance approx. 30 - 40 cm

Tip: Cultivation on the balcony works best when it is south-facing.

soil & substrate

The cola herb also has certain requirements for the substrate: the soil should by no means be too acidic, but it should be calcareous. If the soil is particularly acidic, a one-time fertilization with magnesium lime is recommended. It should also be as permeable as possible. It is best to mix some sand, gravel or small stones into the soil. In addition, the floor should have the following properties:

  • dry
  • slightly damp
  • not too rich in humus

Notice: Ordinary garden soil, which is enriched with a little lime, is suitable for pot culture.

pots

The pastor's herb can easily be cultivated in planters - as long as they are deep enough. Since the herb can root very deeply, smaller planters should be avoided. On the other hand, deep containers that offer the roots enough space are better suited. It should also be noted that the plant does not tolerate waterlogging. Large vessels should therefore definitely have drainage holes.

sowing

You can sow the cola herb from March, although growing on a sunny windowsill has proven itself. All you need for this is the seed, some potting soil and small containers, such as egg cups or seed trays. Since the cola shrub is one of the light germs, it needs a lot of light for germination. With regard to sowing, the procedure is therefore as follows:

  • Fill containers with potting soil
  • Scatter seeds loosely on soil
  • Gently press seeds
  • do not cover with soil
  • place in a bright location
  • optimum germination temperature: approx. 20 degrees Celsius
  • Germination time: approx. 10 - 21 days

As soon as the seedlings are big and strong enough, you can plant them directly outdoors or in buckets after the ice saints - i.e. from the beginning to the middle of May.

propagation

Colakraut is best propagated by cuttings that are harvested in spring. To do this, cut off the tips of new, longer shoots and then put them in a pot with soil. Then cover the container with foil. However, remove the film regularly for ventilation. This way you reduce the risk of mold.

Note: You can also propagate the Cola shrub by dividing the roots by first removing it completely from the ground and then dividing it at the roots. Good care of the cola bush is then required.

maintenance

Fertilizing is not a regular part of the care of Colakraut, because fertilizing is actually only necessary if necessary. However, it has proven useful to enrich the plant with some compost or horn shavings in spring. The situation is different, however, if the pastor's herb is cultivated in containers: In this case, you should fertilize it with a universal fertilizer about every eight weeks.

When it comes to watering, it is better to have too little than too much, because cola herb tolerates drought better than wet. For this reason, it is sufficient to only water the plant after longer periods of drought. However, you should keep the soil moderately moist and avoid waterlogging. If the cola shrub is cultivated in a bucket, you should consider the following:

  • Soil dries out faster in the pot
  • frequent watering necessary
  • Pot bottom with drainage
  • e.g.: gravel or potsherds
Source: Oceancetaceae - Alice Chodura, Artemisia abrotanum - Botanical Garden Mainz IMG 5642, edited by Plantopedia, CC BY-SA 3.0

Cola herb is considered to be very tolerant of pruning, which is why it can be pruned back vigorously when caring for it. There are two good times for this, namely spring or autumn. When cutting itself, the following must be observed:

  • only use clean and sharp tools
  • Cut off the cola bush close to the ground
  • protects against frost damage
  • sprouts voluminously in spring

hibernate

Cola herb is hardy and therefore usually does not require any special care in winter. Only in very rough locations is it advisable to protect the leaves from frost with some brushwood. Plants cultivated in pots can also be brought into the sheltered interior. The following locations are suitable as winter quarters:

  • unheated rooms
  • e.g.: garage, garden shed or conservatory

harvest

Colakraut can be harvested all year round, but is usually pruned in autumn. In principle, you could harvest all parts of the plant, but this is only recommended to a limited extent. Because the flowers and seeds are particularly rich in bitter substances, which is why they are usually not used further. For this reason, it is advisable to only harvest the leaves for further use.

Notice: The content of bitter substances in the leaves increases with age.

Pests & Diseases

Cola herb is not susceptible to pests or diseases thanks to the essential oils it contains. Only mistakes in care can cause him to create, such as root rot when overwatered or stunted in a too shady location.

Use of cola herb

The fresh and dried leaves of the cola herb can be used in many ways: it is not only a popular spice for game dishes, but is also ideal for teas. As a rule, the Cola herb is first dried before it is used:

  • wait until the stickroot has sprouted well
  • cut off healthy shoots
  • wash and dry if necessary
  • bundle several shoots
  • hang upside down
  • in an airy and dry place

taste

The taste is described as slightly bitter, spicy and sometimes citrusy. The young and small leaves taste particularly intense. On the other hand, the larger leaves of the cola herb are only used to a limited extent in the kitchen due to the high amount of bitter substances. The taste of Colakraut harmonises particularly well with the following dishes:

  • game dishes
  • duck
  • goose

Tip: It is advisable to season the dishes with just a little cola herb. Too much of it gives dishes a bitter taste.

frequently asked Questions

Is cola herb a medicinal plant?

Yes, cola herb is considered a tried and tested medicinal plant. It is said to have anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antispasmodic properties. Among other things, it is said to provide relief for stomach and liver problems, but also for gallbladder disorders, colds and loss of appetite.

Are the cola leaves edible?

Yes, the leaves are basically edible, but are preferably used as a spice or for teas.

How do you prepare a tea from cola herb?

To make a tea from Cola herb, a teaspoon of Cola herb is poured over with hot water. Let the whole thing steep for a few minutes, then remove the leaves and enjoy the tea.

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