Bathtub Herbs

Cosmetic Herbs You Can Grow at Home

Our tub garden of rosemary & thyme.
Our tub garden of rosemary & thyme. | Source

Bathing Beauty

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Herbs in the kitchen? Lots of us grow them and enjoy the fresh smell and taste of culinary herbs year round: scrambled eggs with a chiffonade of basil, salad garnished with snipped chives, roasted chicken stuffed with sage leaves.

But herbs have myriad uses beyond the culinary. In fact, many of them could be called cosmetic herbs.

If you have a sunny window in your home, you can grow cosmetic herbs in pots year round and use them in the shower, in the tub and as part of your daily beauty regimen.

Growing potted herbs in the bathroom is a wonderful way to have herbs with cosmetic & other household uses close at hand when you need them.

Potted herbs look great, too, lined up neatly on bathroom windowsills, ranged around garden tubs or artfully displayed on bathroom counters & shelves.

A Garden of Cosmetic Herbs

Lavender, lemon verbena, pennyroyal, rosemary, santolina and thyme are among many easy-to-grow herbs that have cosmetic uses, forming the basis of delightfully fragrant and invigorating lotions, washes, skin toners and other beauty agents that you can make at home.



ROSEMARY

Rosemary isn't just for cooking. It also has many household and cosmetic uses.
Rosemary isn't just for cooking. It also has many household and cosmetic uses. | Source

Invigorating Rosemary Steam Bath

Potted rosemary typically has a more pungent fragrance than rosemary that's grown in beds.

Snip off several stalks, tie them together and hang them from your shower head or bathtub spigot. As the hot water steams, rosemary's camphor-like scent will fill the bath, as refreshing as the aroma of eucalyptus and particularly soothing when you're suffering from a cold.

Rosemary also lends a fresh scent to stored clothing and linens.

Fresh rosemary clippings steamed in a washcloth make a refreshing compress.
Fresh rosemary clippings steamed in a washcloth make a refreshing compress. | Source

Relaxing Rosemary Compresses

To make rosemary compresses, roll cuttings of rosemary up in facecloths and tie the cloths with kitchen string or raffia.

Steam the rolls in a double boiler until the fragrance becomes noticeable.

After the rolled towels have dried, place them in a sealable jar.

To use the compresses, reheat the rolls and then place them over your eyes or on your forehead. They'll help you relax and, if you have a headache, may provide some relief.

Lemon verbena, santolina, lavender or a mix of your favorite aromatic herbs may be used in place of rosemary.

Because they're porous, I have the most success growing potted herbs in clay containers.
Because they're porous, I have the most success growing potted herbs in clay containers. | Source

Growing Potted Rosemary

Like all Mediterranean herbs, rosemary prefers six to eight hours of sun per day and soil that drains well.

Because rosemary hates wet feet (it can develop root rot and die if overwatered) I grow it in clay pots, which are porous, allowing the soil to dry out more quickly after watering than plastic or glazed pots.

Source

Rosemary roots are also sensitive to the cold, so it's the perfect herb to overwinter indoors.

In early spring (or even in winter in warm climates) happy rosemary plants will develop small blue flowers on new growth.

It's easy to train rosemary plants into topiaries, as most have one obvious central or leading stem; however, I love the full, upright shape mature plants develop after several years of growing in a pot. They make fragrant miniature Christmas trees, the warmth of the lights bringing out their natural aroma.

LAVENDER

Lavender has many uses around the home and makes a refreshing compress, skin toner, addition to a hot bath or shower & hand wash.
Lavender has many uses around the home and makes a refreshing compress, skin toner, addition to a hot bath or shower & hand wash. | Source

Growing Potted Lavender

Lavender is another Mediterranean herb that grows as well, or even better, in pots as it does in beds.

Like other herbs of its kind, notably rosemary, lavender naturally conserves moisture in its leaves and will die if its roots are allowed to sit in water. Grow it in full sun in sandy potting mix that drains well.

To root lavender & rosemary cuttings, strip clipped new growth of its lower leaves & then dip the cut end in rooting hormone before placing in water. Pictured: a rosemary cutting.
To root lavender & rosemary cuttings, strip clipped new growth of its lower leaves & then dip the cut end in rooting hormone before placing in water. Pictured: a rosemary cutting. | Source

Also like rosemary, lavender does best when kept well pruned, and it's easy to start from cuttings. Root lavender cuttings as you would rosemary: snip off new growth in spring, strip off the lower leaves of the cuttings, dip the bare stalks in rooting hormone and place them in water.

To keep its aroma strong, harvest lavender's flowering stems as soon as they open.

To prevent disease, facilitate air flow by frequently cutting stalks from the centers of lavender plants.

Lavender is easy to train into a topiary. Or, clip the gray-green leaves of several potted plants into an easy cypress shape for a pretty, orderly display along your garden tub or windowsill.

Pinching back santolina before it blooms will not only make the herb more aromatic, but it will also cause it to fill out and grow more thickly.
Pinching back santolina before it blooms will not only make the herb more aromatic, but it will also cause it to fill out and grow more thickly. | Source

SANTOLINA

Like boxwood, rosemary and lavender, santolina can be trained into a neat hedge around formal herb gardens, but it also makes a pretty potted plant, and its silvery leaves lend an ethereal charm to fairy container gardens.

Santolina Incense

Collect santolina leaves and allow them to air dry. Once they become crumbly, rub them through a fine-mesh sieve and store them in a sealable container.

To rid the bathroom of unpleasant odors or periodically freshen the atmosphere, burn a small amount of santolina incense in an incense burner or votive holder.

Lemon verbena, rosemary and lavender are also good herbs to dry and press into incense powder.

To rid the bathroom of unpleasant odors or periodically freshen the atmosphere, burn a small amount of santolina incense in an incense burner or votive holder.

Lemon verbena, rosemary and lavender are also good herbs to dry and press into incense powder.

Although santolina is unrelated to lavender, it's commonly called cotton lavender or lavender cotton, probably because of its gray-green leaves.

Santolina's pungent aroma made it a popular moth repellent in the past, earning it French nickname garde de robe.

Growing Santolina

Santolina prefers full sun and sandy, well-draining soil. When its leaves become crumbly, you'll know the plant is sickening.

If trimmed back in spring, santolina will produce compact, button-like yellow flowers in the summer. For a fuller, bushier plant, harvest the flowers as soon as they bud.

Santolina grows and looks its best when its leaves are frequently harvested.

Santoline is an easy herb to start from cuttings. And the clippings have innumerable uses around the home as well.

Use santolina in lieu of rosemary in herbal compresses, add it to potpourri as well as stored linens and clothing, or dry santolina leaves for incense. It has a fresh, pungent scent.

THYME

Thyme plants are notable for their pungent aroma, low habit and tiny leaves.
Thyme plants are notable for their pungent aroma, low habit and tiny leaves.

Soothing Thyme Hand Wash

To make a soothing wash for your gardener's hands, place 1/4 C. crushed thyme in 1 C. unscented alcohol. (If you prefer, use lavender, rosemary, lemon verbena or some other herb or herb combination in place of thyme.)

Steep the mixture in a shady spot (like a bathroom cabinet) for two weeks, shaking the jar occasionally. At the end of the two weeks, strain the alcohol and add 2 Tbsp. liquid soap. Your thyme hand wash is ready to use.

A trio of potted thyme.
A trio of potted thyme. | Source

Growing Thyme in Pots

You can color coordinate pots of thyme with your bathroom's décor, choosing from among gold, gray and green varieties in all sorts of textures, from shiny slick to woolly soft.

All varieties of thyme have very, very small leaves and a trailing habit. Allow them to spill from the pot or train them up a length of wire or bamboo. Thyme is a hardy plant, tough enough to survive shaping into a topiary if you so choose.

To grow potted thyme indoors, plant it in sandy potting mix that drains well, and place it in the sunniest spot on your bathroom windowsill. Thyme needs lots of direct sunlight each day, at least six hours, as well as regular feeding.


Mediterranean herbs like rosemary, thyme and lavender need full sun--six to eight hours of it per day.
Mediterranean herbs like rosemary, thyme and lavender need full sun--six to eight hours of it per day. | Source

PENNYROYAL

Uses for Pennyroyal

To revive, stimulate and refresh the senses, tuck a cutting of pennyroyal inside your pillowcases, burn pennyroyal incense, add crushed pennyroyal to homemade hand wash, or toss it into a hot, steaming tub of water. It's invigorating!

***WARNING***

As reported by Barbara Pleasants in Mother Earth News, pennyroyal tea and pennyroyal essential oil are poisonous and could cause death if ingested. Don't drink or eat pennyroyal!

Growing Pennyroyal

Pennyroyal is a tiny, low-growing perennial mint plant with a smell so pungent it can revive the faint. Its strong scent is also purported to act as an aphrodisiac, promoting vigor in the bedroom.

In the past, pennyroyal was used to ward off fleas, ants and other pests.

Pennyroyal is easy to start from cuttings. Simply press strands of the plant into damp potting soil and keep them moist until roots develop.


LEMON VERBENA

Source

Lemon Verbena Skin Toner

To make a lemony-fresh toner for your skin, add about 1/2 C. lemon verbena leaves to a sealable glass container. Pour in 1 C. witch hazel, seal the jar and then allow the mixture to steep for two weeks.

At the end of two weeks, strain the toner to remove the old lemon verbena leaves and then pour it into a clean bottle. Add a fresh lemon verbena leaf if you like before resealing.

To use, apply toner to skin with a cotton ball after cleansing, and then moisturize.

Lavender skin toner can be made in the same fashion.

Growing Lemon Verbena

Lemon verbena is native to the Americas. In Central and South America, it grows as a perennial, reaching heights of up to 12 feet.

In North America, lemon verbena is a tender perennial shrub that requires either overwintering indoors or protection outdoors during the cold season.

POTTED HERBS

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Lemon verbena can make an unattractive plant for overwintering, as it usually drops its leaves when brought indoors.

Lemon verbena has a refreshing lemon scent. Harvest the leaves just before the plant blooms for the most intense smell and taste.

Like other perennial herbs, the aroma and flavor of lemon verbena increases in intensity as the plant ages, so you'll want to keep your potted lemon verbena long term.

Source

About the Author

The Dirt Farmer has been an active gardener for over 30 years.

She first began gardening as a child alongside her grandfather on her parents' farm.

Today, The Dirt Farmer gardens at home, volunteers at community gardens and continues to learn about gardening through the MD Master Gardener program.

Copyright © 2013 by Jill Spencer. All rights reserved.

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Comments 35 comments

The Dirt Farmer profile image

The Dirt Farmer 3 years ago from United States Author

Thank you, thumbi7! You're very kind.


thumbi7 profile image

thumbi7 3 years ago from India

I loved reading this article. These pictures are just wonderful. Voted up and shared


The Dirt Farmer profile image

The Dirt Farmer 3 years ago from United States Author

Hi Patricia! Sorry it's taken me so long to get back to you. Here's an ASPCA link to toxic & non-toxic plants: http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/poison-control/plant... I didn't see the herbs on the list, but you might want to ask your vet about them, esp. pennyroyal. The list isn't all inclusive. Wonder if your kitten would be attracted to them. Their scent is very strong! My old cat loved to munch on plants, but not my herbs (except for catnip, of course, and strangely enough, chives.) I think the smell was off-putting to him. Take it easy & thanks for stopping by. --Jill


pstraubie48 profile image

pstraubie48 3 years ago from sunny Florida

This is such a good idea. But I have a question. Are any of these toxic to kittens? I now have an inside kitty who sniffs and munches on everything in the house.

thanks for sharing.

Angels are on the way :) ps


The Dirt Farmer profile image

The Dirt Farmer 3 years ago from United States Author

Hi LongTimeMother. If you can grow rosemary where you are, you shouldn't have any trouble with santolina. It looks like rock candy to me--all knobby and silver. Thanks for stopping by! --Jill


LongTimeMother profile image

LongTimeMother 3 years ago from Australia

Great ideas here, TDF. I tend to grow maidenhair ferns in the bathroom, and aloe vera. The herbs you mention are all growing in my garden except santolina. I've never heard of santolina but it must be available somewhere in Australia. I'll keep an eye out for it. :)


titi6601 profile image

titi6601 3 years ago

Great Hub. Thank you for sharing.


The Dirt Farmer profile image

The Dirt Farmer 3 years ago from United States Author

Hey Tebo. It would be a simple task to pot up a few of your outdoor herbs. That's the thing about them, they really do well in pots. Thanks for commenting! Take it easy, Jill


tebo profile image

tebo 3 years ago from New Zealand

A very informative hubs with lots of great ideas for using herbs and for growing them inside which I think I will do in the near future. I have herbs in the garden, but inside would make a lovely display as well as aroma. Thanks for a wonderful hub.


The Dirt Farmer profile image

The Dirt Farmer 3 years ago from United States Author

Hi Om. Thanks for stopping by & commenting! Appreciate it.

Deb, if you really want to grow herbs indoors, you can always do it under grow lights if you have the room. In fact, some of those grow light sets with the pots underneath are quite compact, although they seem overpriced to me. They need about 12 hours under the lights. I know, it sounds like a lot! Nice to hear from you! Take care, Jill


aviannovice profile image

aviannovice 3 years ago from Stillwater, OK

I don't have a bathroom window or a kitchen window. I'll figure something out...


Om Paramapoonya profile image

Om Paramapoonya 3 years ago

What a lovely hub. I'm pretty familiar with most of these herbs, except santolina. Too bad, my bathroom doesn't have a window. I can still grow them on my balcony, though! Thanks for your wonderful advice and tips.


The Dirt Farmer profile image

The Dirt Farmer 3 years ago from United States Author

Hi, Roberta. I've never even heard of pennyroyal tea, but apparently it was used in the past to facilitate spontaneous abortions. I can't imagine how it would taste or how it would smell as an essential oil. The plant is incredibly pungent on its own.I'll add a heads up in the article re the dangers of ingesting pennyroyal or using it as an essential oil. Thanks for the heads up! --Jill


RTalloni profile image

RTalloni 3 years ago from the short journey

I enjoyed reading this on bathtub herbs very much because it is nicely done and I like to make good use of them. After double-checking on pennyroyal I thought you might like to see the following as a precaution: http://www.motherearthnews.com/Nature-Community/Pe...

Helping each other stay updated on the best and safest uses of herbs is important so I always appreciate reading about them--thanks!


The Dirt Farmer profile image

The Dirt Farmer 3 years ago from United States Author

Hi georgiagal1984. Hope you have a sunny little spot in the bath for at least one small pot of herbs. They smell so good! All the best, Jill


The Dirt Farmer profile image

The Dirt Farmer 3 years ago from United States Author

Hope you have a lovely day, too, Eddy! Thanks so much for stopping by. --Jill


georgialgal1984 profile image

georgialgal1984 3 years ago from United States

Wow, so clever! I would never of thought to put them in my bathroom! Great information and beautiful pictures. Hope your week is wonderful~


Eiddwen profile image

Eiddwen 3 years ago from Wales

Oh so well informed ,interesting and useful. Voted up,saved and shared. Here's to so many more to follow.

Enjoy your day.

Eddy.


The Dirt Farmer profile image

The Dirt Farmer 3 years ago from United States Author

Hi livingsta--I remember moving to an apartment in Dallas once with my little garden of houseplants. Every one of them died! At that time, I grew mostly low-light indoor plants, not herbs, & they were as unused to the heat and seemingly perpetual light as I was. I'm sure you are looking forward to having plants again. They really do make life a little gentler. Thanks for sharing the hub. --Take care, Jill


The Dirt Farmer profile image

The Dirt Farmer 3 years ago from United States Author

Thanks for stopping by, bridalletter. Appreciate your comments!

Hi Sneha Sunny! You're going to love the smell of herbs in the bath. Thanks so much for sharing this article. Take care, Jill


livingsta profile image

livingsta 3 years ago from United Kingdom

Interesting and engaging hub. I have always loved gardening and enjoyed doing it with my mother. At the moment, the flat I am living in, does not help me with my gardening interests. I would love to start it again some time soon. Growing herbs can be an interesting and useful hobby, and the benefits are limitless. Thank you for sharing these ideas with us. Votes up and sharing!


Sneha Sunny profile image

Sneha Sunny 3 years ago from India

Gardening is so much fun and refreshing! Never thought of bathtub herbs. You inspired me to give it a try.

Thanks for sharing!

Rated, voted up and shared!


bridalletter profile image

bridalletter 3 years ago from Blue Springs, Missouri, USA

I didn't think of adding them in the bathroom, I like that idea. I just wish my window was closer to the counter, not sure they will survive. Another spectacular hub. Thank you for sharing so much information on the herbs.


The Dirt Farmer profile image

The Dirt Farmer 3 years ago from United States Author

Hi Suzette! Thanks for your kind words. I see that you're from Naples. What a beautiful place! At one time, I very much wanted to move there, but ... things didn't work out. Glad you stopped by. Cheers, Jill


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 3 years ago from Taos, NM

This is a great hub full of great ideas and suggestions for adding herbs in the bathroom. I never thought of that, but it would make the bathroom smell fresh and then the suggestions you give for using the herbs in washing and showering are great. What wonderful ideas. I love all the photos also. Very original ideas. Voted up!


The Dirt Farmer profile image

The Dirt Farmer 3 years ago from United States Author

Thank you, Crystal! I hope there's some sunny window somewhere in your home for a little potted herb. They really are a delight to grow. You could even clip one into a cool shape--like pompoms! Thanks for sharing the article. Take care, Jill


Crystal Tatum profile image

Crystal Tatum 3 years ago from Georgia

What a wonderful hub. I very much want to do this, but unfortunately, though I have a window in my bathroom, it is too tiny to place pots on, and the other areas in my bathroom don't get sufficient direct sunlight. Bummer! You did a great job with this. Voting up and sharing.


The Dirt Farmer profile image

The Dirt Farmer 3 years ago from United States Author

Hi Kathy! Thanks for sharing the hub. Glad you liked it.

@ Suzie HQ-- Awesome! Appreciate it.


Suzie HQ profile image

Suzie HQ 3 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

Hi Jill,

I will link this to various ones of mine as it is so relevant and I love it!!


savingkathy profile image

savingkathy 3 years ago from Ontario, Canada

What a great idea! I've never thought of growing herbs in the bathroom. I enjoyed this hub a lot - voted up and pinned!


The Dirt Farmer profile image

The Dirt Farmer 3 years ago from United States Author

Hi Suzie! I have read many of your wonderful herbal cosmetics hubs. Why didn't I like some of them to this? Will do so now. Thanks for sharing the article & for the votes. All the best, Jill


The Dirt Farmer profile image

The Dirt Farmer 3 years ago from United States Author

anndango- So glad you found the hub inspiring. Herbs are such an easy way to "treat" yourself. Thanks for commenting! --Jill

Hi Donna! Nice to hear from you. Sounds like your apartment is going to smell really good with all those potted herbs! They really are a delight to care for. Thanks for the vote & the share. Take care, Jill


Suzie HQ profile image

Suzie HQ 3 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

Hi Jill,

Wow, what a great job you did here, i love growing herbs in containers and using in skin care. Your pics are stunning and so inviting. Love the herbs you highlighted, Lavender, Thyme and Rosemary are all in my favorites. Loved this! Voted up, interesting, useful, shared and pinned!


donnah75 profile image

donnah75 3 years ago from Upstate New York

Fantastic article. I love the photos. You may have inspired me to plant a few more pots of herbs than I originally planned. Sadly, my apt. bathroom has no windows, so I won't be able to grow them in there, but i have plenty of other sunny spots. Voted up and sharing.


anndango 3 years ago

What a fantastic hub! I love it. Such great alternative ideas for herbs and lots of good information. Now you've got me all excited about growing herbs for this purpose. Voted up.

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