Natural Antioxidant—Great for Liver Health

How to Grow Milk Thistle

Milk thistle attracts beneficial insects, such as bumble bees and butterflies.

Milk thistle produces purple flowers all summer, and has lovely milk-white veined leaves.(41)

Wild Milk Thistle is Invasive

Milk thistle is considered by some as "the worst weed in the entire U.S." and a "noxious weed" in Australia. Why? Even though milk thistle is a beneficial plant, it crowds out other plants.(27)

Even if you don't plan on harvesting milk thistle for herbal medicine, you might want to grow some anyway. Why?

  • Milk thistle is a source of pollen for honey bees, especially during summer months.(4243)
  • Goldfinches love milk thistle and use it for nesting material.(2)
  • Milk thistle attracts butterflies — especially the Painted Lady butterfly.(2)

Hints for Growing Milk Thistle

Milk thistle is easy to grow in a variety of soil types — including sandy and heavy clay dirt. Although milk thistle is a drought resistant plant, in extremely dry conditions plants should be watered until established.(1)

Things to keep in mind when planting and harvesting milk thistle:(4144)

  • Pick a sunny to partly-sunny spot.
  • Sow seeds directly outside (½ inch deep) in March or April for summer flowering and a biennial plant. Space each hole 2½-3 feet apart. Use 3-4 seeds for each hole and then thin out the weakest ones when they germinate in 10-20 days.
  • Harvest leaves and stems in spring, and flower buds summer through autumn. Seeds can be harvested from dried flower heads in the autumn.
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