Skullcap has been an integral part of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for almost 2,000 years. Read here how to plant and care for the medicinal plant and perennial summer bloomer.
Profile of Baikal skullcap:
Scientific name: Scutellaria baicalensis
Plant family: mint family (Lamiaceae)
Other names: Chinese skullcap
Sowing time: autumn
Planting time: spring or autumn
Flowering period: July to September
Harvest time: root in spring or autumn
Location: sunny to partially shaded
Soil quality: gritty to sandy, calcipholous, moderately nutritious, humus rich
These information are for temperate climate!
Use as a medicinal herb: bronchitis, cough , elevated cholesterol, gastrointestinal problems, high blood pressure, internal bleeding
Use in: flower beds, group planting, dry stone walls, borders, apothecary garden, cottage garden, flower garden, natural garden, rock garden
Winter hardiness: hardy, USDA Plant Hardiness Zones: 6 (-26 °C / -15 °F)
Bee and insect friendly: Yes
Plant characteristics and classification of Baikal skullcap
Plant order, origin and occurrence of Baikal skullcap
The Baikal skullcap (Scutellaria baicalensis), also Chinese skullcap, is known primarily as a valuable medicinal plant in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). In this context it is called “Huang Qin”. In the garden, the perennial from the mint family (Lamiaceae) is valued as a perennial summer bloomer. The skullcap is now found almost all over the world, originally it was widespread in Siberia and from parts of Mongolia to northern China and Japan.
Characteristics of Baikal skullcap
The Baikal skullcap reaches between 20 and 30 centimeters (8 and 12 in) in height and is almost as wide. It is deciduous and has angular, reddish to purple-tinged stems, some of which branch out at the base. In general, Chinese skullcap grows beautifully bushy and forms numerous leaves and flowers. A peculiarity of the plant: In the course of the season, its shoots straighten up, so that it ultimately has a very upright habit.
The leaves are narrowly ovate to lanceolate and slightly hairy on the edges. They sit opposite on short stalks on the stems and become about 4 centimeters (1.6 in) long.
During the flowering period from July to September, the Baikal skullcap is adorned with countless small, hairy tubular-like flowers that stand on the stems in one-sided, dense clusters. They are purple-blue, with the upper lip being darker in color than the lower lip.
After the bloom, small nuts develop from the flowers.
Baikal skullcap – cultivation and care
Baikal skullcap prefers a bright spot in the garden. The perennial thrives best in full sun, but can also cope with light partial shade. However, it should not be less light at the planting site.
Chinese skullcap can only be planted in loose and well drained soils where water seeps away quickly. It does not survive heavy and compacted soils. In this case you should loosen the soil with sand and gravels.
Planting time for Baikal skullcap is in spring or autumn. A planting spacing of 25 centimeters (10 in) is sufficient, which means that 16 plants can be planted per square meter (10 sq ft.).
Scutellaria proves to be very easy to care for in suitable locations. Baikal skullcap is robust, persistent and absolutely drought tolerant herb. For compact growth, it is advisable to cut the perennial back to just under 10 centimeters (4 in) above the ground in spring and to clip off the new shoot tips.
Well-grown plants can be divided for propagation in spring or autumn. This also rejuvenates older plants.
Aside from the division, you can also propagate Baikal skullcap by sowing. In autumn, sow the seed in the cold box, i.e. directly in the unheated cold frame, as they need cold to germ. In spring, you can cut cuttings. Use only half-ripe specimens for propagation.
Diseases and pests
Baikal skullcap is not prone to plant diseases. However, aphids can appear.
Baikal skullcap is hardy down to -26 °C / -15 °F.
Use of Baikal skullcap
In the garden
The petite and very natural-looking summer bloomer is preferably planted in the sunny rock garden. The purple-blue flowers also come into their own on or in front of dry stone walls. In the cottage garden the Baikal skullcap beautifies low borders, in the natural garden it attracts numerous insects to the flower beds.
As a medicinal plant
Baikal skullcap is an important medicinal plant in traditional Chinese medicine – the written mentions of “Huang Qin” go back to the Late Han Dynasty, around 25-220 AD. The healing power is in the roots. They contain, among other things, valuable flavonoids that have been proven to improve the functioning of the liver and generally have anti-inflammatory, hemostatic, antispasmodic and detoxifying properties. The roots, that are taken from the three to four year old plants in spring or autumn, are dried and then made into a brew or tea.
Baikal skullcap can be used for these ailments and diseases
- elevated cholesterol
- gastrointestinal problems
- high blood pressure
- internal bleeding
Ask your doctor or pharmacist. Visiting this page can not replace the visit to the doctor. For serious or unclear complaints, consult your doctor.