Betony Betonica officinalis

👤 Non-toxic to humans
🐾 Non-toxic to pets
🌸 Blooming
🍪 Edible
‍🌱 Easy-care


Betonica officinalis, more commonly known as betony, is an herbaceous perennial with a rich history of use in traditional medicine. The appearance of betony is characterized by a rosette of dark green, oval to lance-shaped leaves at its base, from which arises a square and sturdy stem. Its leaves may display a slightly wrinkled texture with scalloped or shallowly toothed edges, presenting a lush and verdant aspect. During the flowering season, attractive whorls of tubular flowers, which can be purple, pink, or sometimes white, ascend the stem in an interrupted spike-like inflorescence, offering a visually pleasing display. The blooms are favored by bees and other pollinators, contributing to the plant's ecological value in a garden setting. Betony's lush foliage and vibrant flower spikes offer a contrast in texture and color, making it a charming addition to borders, wildflower meadows, and cottage gardens. Despite its ornamental beauty, betony maintains a relatively modest presence, mingling well with other plants without overwhelming them.

Plant Info
Common Problems

About this plant

  • memoNames

    • Synonyms

      Betony, Bishop's Wort, Wood Betony, Stachys officinalis, Lousewort, Purple Betony, Woundwort.

    • Common names

      Stachys betonica, Betonica grandiflora, Stachys officinalis, Betonica alba, Betonica rosea, Stachys officinalis subsp. betonica.

  • skullToxicity

    • To humans

      Wood betony (Betonica officinalis) is generally considered safe for human consumption when used appropriately. It has been used traditionally in herbal medicine for various purposes. However, like any substance, it may cause side effects or adverse reactions in some individuals when consumed in excessive amounts. Overconsumption might lead to upset stomach, gastrointestinal issues, or allergic reactions in rare cases. It is always wise to consult with a healthcare provider before using any herbal supplement, particularly for those who are pregnant, breastfeeding, or have existing health conditions.

    • To pets

      Wood betony (Betonica officinalis) is not commonly listed as a toxic plant to pets such as dogs and cats. However, individual animals may have varying sensitivities, and the consumption of non-food plants can sometimes lead to gastrointestinal upset in pets, such as vomiting or diarrhea. If your pet consumes wood betony and you notice any adverse symptoms, it is advisable to contact your veterinarian. Also, it's generally a good practice to discourage pets from eating plants not specifically intended for their consumption.

  • infoCharacteristics

    • Life cycle


    • Foliage type


    • Color of leaves


    • Flower color


    • Height

      1-2 feet (30-60 cm)

    • Spread

      1-2 feet (30-60 cm)

    • Plant type


    • Hardiness zones


    • Native area



  • money-bagGeneral Benefits

    • Supports pollinators: Betonica officinalis, commonly known as betony, attracts bees and butterflies, providing them with nectar and pollen.
    • Ornamental value: With its spikes of purple flowers, betony adds color and aesthetic appeal to gardens and landscapes.
    • Erosion control: The plant's root system can help stabilize soil and prevent erosion on slopes and banks.
    • Drought tolerance: Once established, betony is quite drought-tolerant, making it suitable for low-water gardens.
    • Culinary uses: Some parts of the plant can be used in cooking as seasoning, or as a tea, though non-medicinal applications are less commonly discussed.
    • Companion planting: Betony may be beneficial when planted alongside certain crops as it could potentially deter some pests with its strong scent.

  • medicalMedical Properties

    • Astringent: Betonica officinalis, commonly known as betony, can be used for its astringent properties which help in tightening tissues and reducing bleeding.
    • Anti-inflammatory: It may help in reducing inflammation due to its bioactive compounds.
    • Antioxidant: Betony contains antioxidants which may protect cells from oxidative stress and damage.
    • Nervine: The herb has been traditionally used to support the nervous system, possibly helping to reduce anxiety and stress.
    • Analgesic: It may act as a pain reliever for headaches and minor bodily pains.
    • Diuretic: Betony has been used to promote the excretion of urine, which can assist in flushing out toxins from the body.
    • Antispasmodic: The plant might be helpful in alleviating spasms in the digestive tract.
    • Bitter tonic: It is thought to have bitter tonic qualities that could enhance digestion and stimulate the appetite.

  • windAir-purifying Qualities

    This plant is not specifically known for air purifying qualities.

  • leavesOther Uses

    • Betonica officinalis, also known as wood betony, has traditionally been used as a natural dye. The roots can produce a red dye, while the leaves and stems have been used to obtain greens and yellows.
    • In some cultures, wood betony was believed to have magical properties and was used in rituals and amulets for protection against evil spirits and misfortune.
    • The plant has been used as an ingredient in herbal smoking mixtures, where it has been smoked for its reputed soothing effects on the nervous system.
    • Wood betony has been employed in companion planting in gardens, as it is thought to enhance the growth and flavor of some vegetable and herb species.
    • It can be used as a natural insect repellent when the leaves are crushed and applied to the skin, as it emits a pungent odor that is unattractive to many insects.
    • Historically, the plant was used in tanning leather, with the tannins present in the leaves assisting in the leather treatment process.
    • The flowers of wood betony can be dried and added to potpourri mixtures due to their pleasant fragrance and visual appeal.
    • The plant has been used as fodder in some areas, especially for rabbits and other small animals, due to its nutritional content and palatability.
    • Wood betony has also been incorporated into various culinary uses, such as flavoring for liqueurs and as an aromatic addition to some traditional European dishes.
    • In some regions, the plant's fibers have been used in the making of a coarse fabric suitable for crafting satchels and other durable items.

Interesting Facts

  • bedFeng Shui

    The plant Betonica officinalis, commonly known as betony, is not used in Feng Shui practice.

  • aquariusZodiac Sign Compitability

    Betony is not used in astrology practice.

  • spiralPlant Symbolism

    • Protection: Betonica officinalis, commonly known as betony, was believed to have powers to ward off evil spirits and protect individuals from witchcraft in ancient times.
    • Healing: Known for its medicinal properties, betony symbolizes healing and was frequently used in herbal remedies to cure a variety of ailments.
    • Purification: The plant was often used in spells and potions for purification, signifying the cleansing of a space or individual from negative influences.
    • Love and Relationships: In folklore, betony was sometimes used in love spells, representing the nurturing of love and the strengthening of emotional bonds between people.

Every 1-2 weeks
500 - 2500 Lux
Every 2-3 years
Spring to summer
Not needed
  • water dropWater

    Betony should be watered deeply but infrequently, as it is relatively drought-tolerant once established. The plant typically prefers weekly watering during dry periods, with about 1 to 1.5 inches of water. For potted Betony, water whenever the top inch of soil feels dry to the touch, which might be approximately one to two gallons depending on pot size and weather conditions. Overwatering can lead to root rot, so ensure the soil is well-draining.

  • sunLight

    For Betony, the ideal lighting condition is full sun to partial shade. The best spot for the plant is in an area where it can receive at least six hours of sunlight each day, although it can tolerate some light afternoon shade. Ensure that it's not placed in deep shade, as this will diminish flowering and can lead to leggy growth.

  • thermometerTemperature

    Betony thrives in a wide range of temperatures and can tolerate a minimum temperature of about 4°F, making it suitable for USDA hardiness zones 4 through 8. Ideally, Betony enjoys daytime temperatures between 65°F and 75°F. The plant can withstand a maximum temperature up to around 90°F without significant stress.

  • scissorsPruning

    Prune Betony to remove spent flower stems and encourage a second bloom, as well as to maintain plant shape and promote denser growth. The best time for pruning is immediately after the first flowering has ended, typically in late summer. Cut the flower stems back to the base of the plant. Pruning can be done annually or as needed to keep the plant tidy.

  • broomCleaning

    As needed

  • bambooSoil

    Wood betony prefers well-draining soil rich in organic matter with a slightly acidic to neutral pH of about 6.0 to 7.0. A mix of garden soil, compost, and sand in equal parts would be ideal for optimal growth.

  • plantRepotting

    Wood betony should be repotted every 2-3 years or when it outgrows its current pot. It's best to repot in the spring just before the growing season begins for minimal stress on the plant.

  • water dropsHumidity & Misting

    Wood betony grows best in moderate humidity levels, however, it is quite adaptable and can tolerate both low and high humidity environments without requiring specific humidity adjustments.

  • pinSuitable locations

    • Indoor

      Place wood betony in a bright area and water when topsoil feels dry.

    • Outdoor

      Plant wood betony in partial shade, in moist, well-draining soil.

    • Hardiness zone

      4-8 USDA

  • circleLife cycle

    Betonica officinalis, commonly known as betony or wood betony, begins its life cycle as a seed which germinates in late winter or spring depending on conditions. The seedlings grow into a rosette of leaves at the soil surface, developing a deep and branching root system. As the plant matures, it sends up flower stalks in summer, featuring dense spikes of purple to pink flowers that attract pollinators and are capable of self-fertilization. Following pollination, the plant produces small nutlets as fruits, which are dispersed to start new plants. Betony is a perennial, so after blooming, the aerial parts of the plant die back to the ground in autumn while the root system remains alive to send up new growth the following spring. This cycle repeats annually, with the plant sometimes living for several years.

  • sproutPropogation

    • Propogation time

      Spring to summer

    • Betonica officinalis, commonly known as betony, is best propagated through seed. To propagate betony from seed, you can sow the seeds directly outdoors in fall, allowing them to overwinter and germinate in the spring. Alternatively, if you want a head start, you can begin sowing indoors in late winter to early spring under a light covering of soil, around 1/8 inch (about 3 millimeters) deep. Ensure the soil remains moist but not waterlogged. Seedlings can be transplanted outside once the threat of frost has passed and they've grown strong enough to handle the elements, generally when they reach at least 2 to 3 inches in height.