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Folklore Behind Garden Plants and Herbs

Many garden herbs and plants are part of unusual superstitions in mountain communities. Learn the unique properties these herbs and plants supposedly possessed in old-time folklore.

Folklore about garden herbs and plants was part of the charm of old wives tales and superstitions in rural regions like Appalachia and the Ozark Mountains. Strange and sometimes scary stories about the use and physical property of these common garden varieties makes for fun historical facts for modern-day gardeners.


Many herbs were used for good-luck purposes, or to ward off evil spirits. Basil was often dried, then hung in bunches or single strands over the door, windows, or the fireplace. Supposedly, this kept evil spirits (and a few unwelcome human visitors) from entering your home.

The Purslane plant serves a similar purpose — only it keeps people away when planted in the ground near your home (although not necessarily the evil spirits).

Garden Plants

Split open a persimmon seed in the fall to determine when good spring planting will arrive. If there’s a spoon shape inside the seed, the winter weather will be harsh and cold instead of mild.

When planting your garden vegetable seeds, plant two for the devil and one for yourself, since he may wreak havoc in your plants throughout the growing season.

Garden Flowers

Geraniums can protect you from experiencing snakebite if you carry the petals with you.

Fern leaves ward off back luck when placed outside your threshold.

There are many other superstitions regarding gardens and plants. While most find their way into almanacs as curious pieces of the past, many gardeners find it fun to carry on a few of the old wives tales in honor of the past (and present) garden experience.

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