Milk Thistle Planting and Care Guide
Quick Facts About Milk Thistle
Milk Thistle is a well-known medicinal herb with a long history of use in the treatment of liver and gallbladder ailments. It is the Milk Thistle seeds that are used medicinally, and they contain silymarin which is a flavonoid. The flowers are also great for pollinators.
Start Milk Thistle seeds indoors early for an annual plant. If the seeds are started outdoors in the spring once frost season is over, the plant will grow like a biennial and bloom the second year.
Milk Thistle plants perform best in full sun and in fertile soil with moderate amounts of irrigation.
How to Plant Milk Thistle
- Sow the herb seeds indoors about 8 weeks prior to the last frost
- Use starter trays and cover the seed about 1/4 inch with soil
- Keep the seeds moist for germination
- Harden off the young thistle plants and transplant out after frost danger has passed
- Or, work the garden soil 6 - 8 inches in depth
- Add compost to improve the soil
- Sow 3 - 4 seeds spaced about 30 inches apart
- Thin to the strongest plant
Care And Maintenance
- Keep the Milk Thistle plants moderately irrigated
- When the plants are young, the leaves can be used for eating in salads
- The thistle plants well self-sow, so it is best to deadhead the spent flowers