how to make flower essences

How to Make Your Own Flower Essences

Summer is the time to make your own flower essences. 

Flower essences are a type of vibrational medicine, akin to homeopathy, in which the healing energy of flowers is captured in a process of dilution, and no flower parts remain in the finished remedy. 

It is easy to make flower essences and they are a wonderful complement to herbal medicine because they address the underlying emotional causes that create problems in the body. Sometimes addressing the emotions can resolve physical symptoms and ailments.

They can work quickly, or take time to clear blockages. Similar to doing a detox cleanse, it is possible that you may initially feel heightened awareness of symptoms as stagnant emotional patterns are unearthed.

Why Use Flower Essences

Flower essences offer a wonderful way to heal and grow because they affect change at a deep emotional level.

They are safe for all ages, and even pets, and the don’t interact with medications. 

There are a couple of popular brands of flower essences available at natural health stores, including Bach and Wild Rose, and Nova Scotian essences produced by Blue Fairie and Star Flower essences.  Globally you will find flower essences produced with local blooms. 

And, it is easy to make your own…

Making Flower Essences

Making the Mother

Float the flowers in pure spring or well water in sunlight for 20 minutes to 3 hours or until more than half the flowers are wilted. Remove the flowers and transfer the liquid to a clean bottle. A small tincture bottle is good, about 50 ml. A funnel would be helpful.

Mix the flower water with an equal amount of brandy or glycerine.

Succus the bottle 100 times to mix them. 

Label as “Mother.”

Notes: Flower essences made with brandy will last decades, glycerine will last about 5 years, and plain water essences will last a few days. Look for or prepare glycerine based essences if you do not consume alcohol. 

Making a Stock Remedy

Fill another small bottle with half water and half brandy. Add 5 drops of the mother. Succus 100 times. Label as “Stock Remedy.”

Making a Treatment Bottle

Combine water and 30% glycerine or brandy. Add 5 drops from the stock bottle. Succus 100 times. Label. 

Keep the Mother and the Stock, and you can make flower essences to last a lifetime (if you have used brandy). Simply make more treatment bottles with the stock, and make more stock from the mother when you run out. 

The treatment bottle is what you will use for the following methods: 

Ways to Use Flower Essences

Take 3-5 drops in the mouth or in water, 3 or more times daily.

Use as a room spray – add 3 to 5 drops to a spray bottle full of water.

Add about 20 drops to a  bath. 

Flower essences can also be added to healing creams or lotions. 

Flowers to Look For

For a brief couple of months, Halifax is bursting with flowers, so don’t delay and make your essences soon. The following flowers can be found here in Halifax, and across much of North America:

Mallow 

Althea spp.

Mallow is for people who feel cut off and isolated, and long for warmth and openness. It’s for you if you have difficulty making friends or committing to relationships. Whether it stems from insecurity, fear or lack of trust, mallow will help you overcome barriers to friendship. 

Horse Chestnut

Aesculus hippocastanum

Do you feel like nothing ever changes? Horse Chestnut helps you stop making the same mistakes over and over.  Rid yourself of unwanted, repetitive thoughts and break out of stagnant patterns.

Dill

Anethum graveolens

If you’re busy, stressed, and overwhelmed with the hustle and bustle of a full & chaotic life. Dill is particularly good if you’re suffering from overstimulation, will promote relaxation and inner nourishment. 

Daisy

Bellis perennis

Daisy is the plant for getting your #%@ together! It’s for planning and organizing. Absorb more information and organize it in a meaningful way. It also enhances concentration.

Borage

Borago officinalis

Borage is a heart remedy to ease the brokenhearted. It’s good for those suffering grief, loss, sadness, or discouragement and it lifts the spirits and prevents depression. It promotes courage and optimism.

Greater Celandine 

Chelidonium majus

Celandine flower essence enhances communication. It’s good for singers, teachers and lecturers. Celandine assists giving receiving information, and is good for people who are stubborn or opinionated, do not listen, or can’t concentrate. It also helps enhance understanding of information given in dreams. 

Hawthorn

Crataegus monogyna, C. oxycanthus

Hawthorn is a renowned heart healer. As a flower essence, it heals broken hearts, opens the heart chakra and enhances expressions of love. It also eases emotional extremes. 

Opium poppy

Papaver somniferum

Poppy flower essence is for escapists who find it hard to face up to the realities of life, and for those fearful of expressing strong emotions such as anger. It gives you the courage to assert yourself, and express your feelings. 

Linden

Tilia europea

Linden is another flower essence for the heart. It increases awareness of our connectedness to the rest of humanity, and increases feelings of peace and happiness.

Mullein

Verbascum thapsus

Mullein provides an inner light to guide us along our path. It helps us to withstand social pressure, and strengthens the moral compass for those who are weak and confused. 

 

If you’re interested in learning more about flower essences, herbal medicine, and holistic wellness, you’ll love our Holistic Herbal Wellness course. It’s a year-long, seasonal self-care course featuring herbal medicine. We meet one Saturday per month in Halifax or Moncton. 

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Wildcrafting Tips & Best Practices

Savayda wildcrafting fireweed in a meadow. | Bloom InstituteWildcrafting is a great way to benefit from herbal medicine without breaking the bank. There’s a wide variety of healing medicinal herbs in Nova Scotia, and every season offers something different to harvest.

Wildcrafting is the practice of harvesting plants from their natural habitat for food or medicinal purposes. (The word “foraging” is often used for food and “wildcrafting” for herbal medicines, but they are interchangeable). Wildcrafted herbs can be used in a variety of medicines like tinctures, herbal salves, and infusions, and when done mindfully, you can reap the benefits of wild herbal medicines without disturbing the ecosystem.

Benefits of Wildcrafting

Wild plants are more potent and nutrient-dense than their monoculture counterparts because they come from richer terrain, often in relatively undisturbed meadows and forests. Commercial farms often have depleted soil, or only feed the plants with isolated nutrients.

It’s also a great way to enjoy the outdoors. You can bring a friend for a relaxing expedition. And when you return home, there are many easy herbal remedies you can make with your harvest of wild plants.

Wildcrafting herbs for food and medicine can support your efforts to:

  • eat nutrient-dense foods
  • reduce dependence on imported food and medicine
  • reduce dependence on Big Agro
  • enjoy nature
  • keep yourself healthy with natural tonics & remedies

You can also bring along family and friends and build community at the same time.

And just how many useful plants are out there? TONS! In one afternoon in northern New Brunswick, I identified 28 useful plants on one property, and there were definitely more I didn’t identify. Once you learn to identify some useful plants, you will see they are everywhere. Many useful plants are so prolific they are also known as weeds.

What to Bring When You Go Wildcrafting

You don’t need many tools to wildcraft, but there are a few essentials that will help your excursion go smoothly. Primarily, you’ll need something to carry your harvest in, and you might need some tools to detach the plants from the forest.

Baskets are great for short trips, and large paper bags are great for longer ones. Don’t store herbs in plastic because they can decompose quickly in the sun.

Depending on what you plan to harvest, you might need something for cutting, digging and snipping. You’ll want a trowel if you’re digging roots, and bring a good knife if you have to cut bark, or roots, and some kitchen shears or scissors for snipping greenery or flowers.

I love this hori hori digging knife for all sorts of wildcrafting and gardening tasks.It has one straight blade and one serrated blade and it is curved so it functions as a knife and a trowel. Another handy tool is a vegetable brush to clean roots with, to minimize the dirt you take with you. If you’re harvesting mushrooms, bring a paintbrush instead of a vegetable brush to avoid damaging them.

If you’re exploring a new area, a great field guide will help you identify useful plants. In my area (Halifax, Nova Scotia) Peterson’s Field Guide to Medicinal Plants and Herbs is the standard for medicinal plants, and here is the version for edible plants.  Another good, comprehensive one for this region that includes lots of pictures is Lone Pine’s Edible & Medicinal Plants of Canada. The other nice thing about the Lone Pine guide is that it has both edible and medicinal plants in one volume.

Wildcrafting Packing List

  • baskets, paper bags, cloth bags
  • pruning shears or scissors
  • knife or trowel or both
  • a veggie brush for roots, or paintbrush for mushrooms
  • a field guide
  • camera
  • flower press
  • snacks and water
  • a notebook and/or sketchbook

What to Wear When You Go Wildcrafting

The type of habitat and the weather will impact your clothing choice. Something to think about will be the density of vegetation, and the possibility of muddy ground. It’s a good idea to wear long pants if you’re going into the forest or tall grasses,

Wildcrafting Best Practices

Get to Know Your Plant

Make sure you’re positive of the plant’s identity. When in doubt, leave it. For an introduction to some useful plants, it’s a great idea, and a lot of fun to take a class with a local expert. Bloom Institute’s Holistic Herbal Wellness Program is a year-long program that will immerse you in nature in Atlantic Canada and give you firsthand experience in identifying and using local medicinal plants.

When you’re encountering a new plant, it can tell you a lot about itself if you take the time to get to know it. The smell, texture and colour can sometimes give you clues as to what the plant’s uses are, and often a contemplative taste will also let you intuit what the plant does medicinally. One example is the soothing smell of linden that you might correctly guess is soothing and good for your heart.

wildcrafting dandelions | bloominstitute.ca

Harvest Plant Parts in the Proper Season

As the plants experience the cycle of seasons, different parts of them hold the most nutrients and medicine, and different parts will be available at different times. By harvesting each part in the best season, you’ll get the best yield and most potent medicine for your efforts.

LEAVES: In spring, before the flowers have blossomed, the leaves are at their most tender, clean and relatively untouched by bugs. After flowers appear, the leaves can become tough and tasteless or bitter. Harvest leaves before they fade in colour, wither, or get eaten by insects.

FLOWERS: If you’re after flowers, then obviously you also have a specific window for each flower in which to harvest. Pick buds just before they open, or flowers that have just opened and before the start to wilt. Some flowers start appearing in early spring and some species are still blooming in late fall, but most varieties appear in summer.

ROOTS: Roots are best harvested as late as possible, before the first frost. This is when the energy of the plant subsides into the ground, preparing for winter, but after the first frost, they’re sometimes damaged and spongey. It is especially important when gathering roots that you harvest no more than 10% of the population.

SEEDS: Collect seeds when they are ripe. Leave seeds on the plant to sun-ripen as long as possible, but harvest just before the wind distributes them. You can tell when they’re ready by the little stem that attaches the seed parts to the rest of the plant. If the stem is dry, the seeds are ready. Yellowed leaves can also be an indicator of ripe seeds. Collect them by putting a paper bag over the plant and cutting the stem. Always leave the majority of seeds there for the plant to return next year.

BARK: Harvest bark in spring or fall, ideally from recently fallen branches, not from the main trunk. Never harvest more than 10% of the circumference.

Harvest in the Morning

The best time to harvest is on a sunny morning right after the dew has dried. You don’t want to harvest wet plants on damp days, or in hot sun because the plants will wilt too quickly.

Practice Gratitude

Harvesting your own food and medicine is a great time to notice the abundance of nature, the interconnection of all living things, and to appreciate the importance of maintaining the ecosystem that provides this treasure.  When you find a patch of herb you want to gather, take a moment to attune to the plant and be thankful for the gift of mother nature.

Be A Steward of the Ecosystem

The most important thing is to gather with mindfulness for the continued abundance of the plant and its ecosystem. Never harvest rare and endangered plants. Always leave enough plants that they will replenish. Leave flowers for the bees, seeds and berries for the other critters, and for the plant to continue to thrive. Don’t harvest more than one root out of ten, and re-cover any remaining roots you have disturbed. Only pick what you can process.

Over-harvesting can decimate a plant population in a given area, and depending on what you’re harvesting, you can also disrupt other critters, so you want to be mindful that you’re leaving enough for the forest, the birds & the bees.

Harvest less than 10% of the population in a given area, especially if you are harvesting roots.

Most importantly, if a plant is rare in your area don’t harvest or disturb it. Many medicinal plants are at risk, so it’s good to check which ones are at risk in your area. There’s a list at United Plant Savers. If you’re in Atlantic Canada, check the Atlantic Canada Conservation Data Centre‘s list.

Keep Good Records

One thing you’ll want to do now that will make your foraging easier in the future is to keep a good record of when you saw which plants, so you’ll be able to predict the perfect time to harvest each plant for next season. Each season when the first of each plant pops up, jot it down and next year you’ll be glad you did.

To help you keep great notes, I created a free printable Wildcrafting Log for you. It’s a printable A5 page with space for you to write down the details of your harvest. Its minimal, bullet journal style is just enough guidance to remind you of some things you should write down, but blank enough to let you add your own sketches and style. Sign up at the bottom of this post to download your copy.

Beginner Plants to Wildcraft in Nova Scotia

Coltsfoot

The first flower of spring in Nova Scotia, Coltsfoot can be identified by the unusual fact that the flowers grow on a stem straight out of the ground before any leaves appear. Harvest the flowers in early spring, making sure to leave most of them for the bees.
Coltsfoot honey can be made into a honey for coughs.

 

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Golden Rod

Goldenrod is a prolific plant found in open areas, such as meadows, prairies, and my backyard. Just tasting a goldenrod leaf can give you a sensation of cooling and freshness in your respiratory system, making it a popular remedy for colds and flu, taken as a tea.

 

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Ground Ivy

Ground Ivy, also knows as Creeping Charlie, is an invasive weed in the mint family. When infused in vinegar, it makes a beautiful pink potion that is a great addition to salad dressings. Research shows it has anti-inflammatory and diuretic activity.

 

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Japanese Knotweed

Please harvest knotweed! Knotweed is an invasive species that grows and spreads very quickly. The young spring shoots can be cooked and eaten like asparagus, or pickled. This is one exception to the 10% rule. Knotweed is extremely invasive and not native to Nova Scotia, and it is damaging our native ecosystems, so in this rare case, it is ok to harvest as much as you want.

 

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These are just a few to get you started, but there are dozens of local herbs to wildcraft here in Nova Scotia. Just remember to respect the habitat that you’re taking from: be thankful and don’t harvest more than 10% of the population.

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Savayda wildcrafting herbal medicine | Bloom Institute