When you are planning your spring garden, consider not only the beauty but also the usefulness of the plants that you plan to put in. I love ornamental plants as much as anyone else, but I get a particular sense of satisfaction if I have a purpose or use for the lovely flowers that brighten my yard and garden.
One of my favorite plants in that category is Soapwort. Saponaria officinalis is a lovely bushing plant that fills out and pops with pink and purplish flowers all spring and summer long. It’s perfect for a raised bed, a barrel, or any other area where it can live on its own.
Soapwort is easy to grow – in fact, it is rather invasive and aggressive. It is steadily winning against the mint that I planted in the same pot as an experiment to see who was stronger! It is also important to keep in mind that the very same properties that make soapwort a useful plant can also cause harm if you plant it too close to water features or ponds. The saponins in the plant can kill fish and other water creatures, but the saponins are what make this beautiful plant so wonderful!
Saponins are the part of the plant chemistry that create a soap-like cleaning action. Soapwort does not produce big bubbles like one might come to expect from soap, but the gentle soapwort infusion is a truly effective cleanser that doesn’t irritate the skin.
Harvest the tops, stems, and roots of soapwort. The whole plant works, and since it is such a quick grower, don’t be afraid to just continually harvest parts throughout the spring and summer when the flowers are blooming. Dry the plants and use them throughout the fall and winter as well.
Soapwort shampoo is a gentle cleanser for sensitive skin and dry hair. It cleans enough to leave you squeaky and fresh, but it does not strip all of the good and necessary oils away. People with chronic acne, psoriasis, or other sore skin problems can generally use soapwort infusion to clean without issues.
Here’s how you can make shampoo and body wash from either fresh or dried soapwort!
1 cup water
- Boil the water and add the soapwort leaves.
- Cover the pan and turn it down to a simmer for fifteen minutes.
- Let everything cool off.
- Strain the infusion through a clean kitchen towel or cheesecloth into a jar or bottle.
Give the jar or bottle a good shake to bring out the bubbles and pour it in your wet hair while you shower. Use your fingertips to massage your scalp. Soapwort infusion is not as bubbly as regular shampoo, but you’ll notice your hair is squeaky clean when you rinse.
You can also add any of the following herbs for skin and hair to the pot with the soapwort:
- Rose Petals
- Hibiscus (red hair)
- Chamomile (fair hair)
- Rosemary (dark hair)
And there are so many more to choose from, and here are a few more ideas to try out as well.
You can follow it up with a vinegar rinse, or use any of the above herbs brewed as tea for a conditioning rinse.
This post was written by Amber Shehan, the head pixie at Pixiespocket.com. She’s been eating things out of her yard and brewing them up as teas and tinctures for over 15 years now. Photos are provided and copyrighted by Amber Shehan, used with permission for this blog.