Immortality herb is a plant that seems to grow forever

February 20, 2019

Time flies, and as we age, each year flies faster than the previous one because each passing year represents smaller and smaller portions of your life. What if there was a magic herb that made you immortal? Enter the Immortality herb (Jiaogulan) Gynostemma pentaphyllum, a vine believed to have immune-strengthening and cholesterol-lowering properties.

It also makes a great decoration when grown cascading over the rim of a pot. With support and care, the vines can reach 25 feet long. It is hardy in USDA zones 8-10; otherwise, you have to bring it indoors for the winter. Or you can just grow it as an annual and let it die in the winter.

It is a member of the cucumber and gourd family, and when the leaves are brewed into tea it is thought to give you a long and healthy life. The common nickname of this Asian mountain native is sweet tea vine.

You can eat the leaves in a salad, or steamed, or diced for tea. The leaves are sweet enough that they are used instead of sugar. It is sometimes called Southern Ginseng because like ginseng, Immortality herb is an adaptogen herb, so it counterbalances stress and supports the immune system, memory, endurance and stamina. Immortality herb actually greatly exceeds ginseng in the number of saponins, and is also high in amino acids, vitamins, and minerals such as iron, calcium, zinc, magnesium, phosphorous and manganese.

Choose a planting spot in full sun or partial shade. Immortality herb does best in light, well-drained soil. These are really easy-to-grow plants. You can spread Immortality around by simply taking cuttings from a mature vine. Let the cuttings root in a glass of water, then pot them up or transplant directly outdoors.

Immortality can also be yours by planting seeds. Sow the seeds directly in the garden after the last frost in early spring. Indoors, plant the seeds in any moist seed-starting mix. Set the trays under grow lights for 12 hours each day. The seeds should germinate in two to six weeks.

This is a climbing or trailing plant. If you use a trellis, Immortality will use its tendrils to attach itself to the trellis or other supports. Water regularly to keep the soil evenly moist, but not soggy or waterlogged. Your plants might wilt if the soil dries out, but they will rebound quickly with deep watering. Mulch the plants with a layer of compost to hold in moisture and keep the roots cool. These hardy herbs usually need no fertilizer other than compost.

Immortality comes to men and women alike, so the Immortality herb plants are either male or female. You need to plant several so that at least one of each will be close enough to pollinate and let you save seeds.

Plant Immortality herb and enjoy a plant that seems to grow forever. Eat its leaves and drink its tea for a healthy life. Did I forget to mention it is also good for memory?


  • Paul Barbano writes about gardening from his home in Rehoboth Beach. Contact him by writing to P. O. Box 213, Lewes, DE 19958.

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