The Veronica officinalis, known as Swiss tea, is a wild plant highly valued for its beneficial properties. It was once believed to be a true panacea for all respiratory system issues. Besides being widespread in the wild, this plant is often cultivated in gardens, as its reproduction from seed is quite straightforward.
In this article, we will introduce you to its botanical characteristics, cultivation methods, properties, and medicinal uses.
Veronica officinalis is a perennial species, belonging to the botanical family of Scrophulariaceae. It originates from continental Europe, and its preferred habitat is the slightly damp edges of woods, grassy meadows, from the plains up to 2,000 m in altitude. Veronica is a small perennial plant that generally does not exceed 60 cm in height.
- It consists of a set of herbaceous stems, with a pubescent or prostrate bearing. The parts that touch the ground root easily.
- The leaves are paired on the stems, have an oval or round shape, and a short petiole. They also have a serrated leaf margin and a velvety surface, due to a light layer of fuzz.
- Veronica’s flowering is very abundant and occurs at the axil of the stem’s last leaves, in a spike inflorescence, between May and July.
- The flowers have a calyx divided into 4 lobes, a corolla with 4 irregular petals of a bluish color, with darker, almost violet veins.
- The fruits (seeds) are capsules enclosed between the lobes of the persistent calyx. They are heart-shaped.
How to Cultivate Veronica Plant
The cultivation of Veronica officinalis is possible both in the garden and in pots. It’s a perennial, very hardy plant, thus resistant to cold and adaptable to various environmental situations. It prefers a soil that is loose and fresh, without too much organic matter. Therefore, there’s no need for foundational fertilization. This medicinal plant reproduces well from seeds, which retain their germination capacity well. Direct sowing takes place in spring, after the frosts. Surface broadcast sowing is practiced, followed by ample watering. Until the emergence of the sprouts, the soil should always be kept moist. Once the sprouts appear, they should be thinned out, maintaining one plant every 15-20 cm. Another reproduction method for Veronica officinalis is dividing the clumps. This takes place at the beginning of autumn, after flowering. To cultivate Veronica in pots, follow the same rules. To start, you can use a standard universal soil for flowering plants.
How to Water Veronica Officinalis
Veronica officinalis should not be watered too frequently. It’s essential to irrigate only during prolonged droughts. If cultivated in pots, its water requirement is higher. However, always avoid water stagnation, which is very harmful to the plant’s development.
How to Care for the Plant’s Growth
Another essential care for cultivating Veronica officinalis is weed control, particularly crucial during the early growth stages. To achieve this, periodic hoeing is necessary, thus promoting the initial development of the long stems.
How to Prune the Veronica Plant
In cultivating the Veronica officinalis plant, pruning is not necessary. All that’s required is to trim the flowers once they have finished blooming, usually at the beginning of autumn. This keeps the plant cleaner and more vigorous. By trimming the flower stems, you can preserve the seeds for future cultivation.
Properties of the Veronica Officinalis Plant
The Veronica officinalis plant has always been appreciated for its beneficial properties. The part used is the upper portion, namely the highest leaves on the stems and the flowering tops. Its medicinal properties include:
Uses of the Veronica Officinalis Plant
The Veronica plant has many uses. It’s often dried and is excellent for making infusions. For this reason, in France, it was used as a substitute for tea and was called “tea of Europe”, highlighting the fact that it was much cheaper and more accessible than Asian tea at the time. It has a slightly bitter taste, but the comforting beverage made with Veronica is very pleasant. Before meals, it stimulates appetite, and if taken afterward, it aids digestion. If you don’t have the opportunity to collect wild Veronica officinalis or cultivate it in your garden, here are some ready-to-use products.