Self heal, Prunella vulgaris, is a wildflower native to the UK, where it’s found growing in grassland, meadows and lawns. It’s a low-growing, semi-evergreen perennial with spikes of violet-blue (occasionally pink or white) flowers, from June to September.
Part of the mint family (Lamiaceae), self heal (or all-heal and heal-all) has long been used for its medicinal qualities – the leaves are reputed to heal wounds when applied to them. The plant has many other names too, including blue curls, blue Lucy and thimble flower.
In the garden, self heal can be grown as part of a wildflower patch or wildflower lawn, at the front of a border, or used as ground cover. It self-seeds easily so if not deadheaded, it will spread. The flowers are extremely attractive to bees and other insects.
How to grow self heal
Grow self heal in moist but well-drained soil, in sun or partial shade. It does best when surrounded by other low-growing plants and grows extremely well in lawns. Ensure that it’s not smothered by taller plants, cutting them back at the end of the season. Deadhead after flowering if you want to stop self heal spreading – it self-seeds readily.
Self heal: jump links
- Planting self heal
- Caring for self heal
- Propagating self heal
- Growing self heal: problem-solving
- Buying self heal
- Self heal varieties to grow
Where to grow self heal
Grow self heal in full sun or partial shade, in any moist, well-drained soil. Grow with other low-growing plants, as it can be dominated by taller ones. Cut any taller plants around it back at the end of the season. Self heal is particularly suited to growing in a wildflower lawn.
How to plant self heal
Plant self heal plants or plugs in spring, around 30cm apart. Dig a hole the same size as the rootball, pop the plant in and back fill, firming around the plant. Water in well.
Caring for self heal
Deadhead self heal as soon as it’s finished flowering if you don’t want it to self-seed – it can spread easily.
How to propagate self heal
You can save seed from your existing plants in autumn, or buy seed online. Sow seeds in a tray in a cold frame in spring, or sow direct where you want the plants to flower in late spring, 2mm deep. Germination is slow and can take up to eight weeks. If sown in a cold frame, transplant seedlings when they’re large enough to handle, into 9cm pots, and grow on before planting out in late spring. If you have sown the seeds direct, thin the seedlings to 30cm apart.
You can also divide self heal plants in spring.
Growing self heal: problem solving
Self heal is generally not affected by pests and diseases.
Advice on buying self heal
- Plug plants of self heal are often available online in spring and are excellent value, especially if you’re planting a large area
- You may find wild flowers at the garden centre in spring, but they’re more likely to be available online
- You can also buy self heal seeds online
- Be aware that Prunella vulgaris has a tendency to self-seed. It can persist in lawns, as it is low growing and can flower even after mowing
Where to buy self heal online
Varieties of self heal to grow
Prunella vulgaris ‘Rose Pearl’ is an attractive pink-flowered variety. Height x Spread: 30cm x 30cm