En EspaÑol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?


Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
rate this answer
1 rating

Thursday - April 25, 2013

From: Huntsville, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Propagation, Seeds and Seeding, Medicinal Plants, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Sharing Selfheal with Texas Friends
Answered by: Anne Van Nest


I have discovered selfheal plants in my yard. When and how do I collect the seeds or do I just dig up plants to share with friends? I understand this is actually an herb. I love identifying wildflowers in my area.


Selfheal (Prunella vulgaris) is a native plant throughout most of North America (except the most northern regions) and is often found in lawns and moist, shady locations.

From the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center Native Plant Database… Its favorite habitat includes moist fields, gardens, pastures and along woodland edges in the eastern and southern portions of Texas. It can be grown most anywhere, with a little extra water in very dry conditions. In very hot areas, give it a spot that is protected from the hot afternoon sun.

The Plants For a Future website contains the following information about growing Prunella vulgaris from seed that might be helpful with your quest to share this plant with friends.

Seed - sow in mid spring in a cold frame. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out in the summer. If you have sufficient seed then it can be sown outdoors in situ in mid to late spring. Division in spring or autumn. Very easy, larger divisions can be planted out direct into their permanent positions. We have found that it is better to pot up the smaller divisions and grow them on in light shade in a cold frame until they are well established before planting them out in late spring or early summer.

Seeds can be collected from the ripe or mature (dried) seed heads. The seed head will turn brownish when it is ripe. Check frequently so you don’t miss getting the seed when they are ripe and before they fall to the ground. If you have to harvest the seed when it is not quite ripe, you may be able to finish ripening it in a sealed paper bag. There are four nutlets/seeds per head.

In addition, The Seed Site online has a very good webpage with details and images of the seed head and seeds.

Also, there is more information on the USDA NRCS website has a factsheet on Prunella vulgaris and report that Flowers bloom progressively in the spike from the lower to upper end. Bloom occurs April to September, depending on the latitude and elevation. Each flower produces four smooth, egg-shaped, one-seeded nutlets that are retained in the persistent calyx. The nutlets are primarily distributed by flowing water, grazing mammals and birds.

Dividing selfheal and transplanting it is also a very good way to share this plant.


From the Image Gallery

Common selfheal
Prunella vulgaris

Common selfheal
Prunella vulgaris

Common selfheal
Prunella vulgaris

Common selfheal
Prunella vulgaris

More Propagation Questions

Starting Antelope Horn Milkweed Seeds
March 08, 2013 - I recently found a sealed plastic bag containing milkweed seeds in a cabinet drawer that I had gathered more than a year ago, (maybe two years ago). These are the "antelope horn" milkweed I think it...
view the full question and answer

Will sprouts under pecan trees become producing trees in Jefferson Co., AL?
May 30, 2009 - Do pecan trees that sprout up underneath existing pecans trees ever amount to anything such as producing and bearing pecans?
view the full question and answer

Propagation of native American beautyberry in North Carolina
August 31, 2008 - I have found a beauty berry bush growing wild in the woods. It is huge! I broke off a couple of branches (1/4 " in diameter) and wonder if it will root if I just stick it in good moist soil. I alr...
view the full question and answer

Western red cedar (Thuja plicata) frost tolerance, making cuttings
October 08, 2007 - Dear Madam or Sir, It would be very kind, if you could answer my questions about the “Thuja Plicata atrovirens” alias “Western Red Cedar”. I need the information because a good friend of mine ...
view the full question and answer

Germinating Hibiscus martianus, Heartleaf hibiscus
June 11, 2013 - Is there some secret to getting Heart Leaf Hibiscus to germinate from seed? I have tried several times, but have had no luck getting them to germinate.
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center