Once upon a time purple loosestrife was prized for its beauty and also its medicinal properties. It was chewed to keep gums healthy; used in washes to improve skin conditions; and used as a general “cure” for gastric problems. More recent research has looked at its effects on blood sugar levels and its antimicrobial properties.
Nowadays, however, it is mainly reviled as an invasive species having been taken from its native continental Europe and the Near East to the United States and Australia where it has made itself more than at home. A good plant in one place becomes a bad plant in another.
In the UK, it is not a problematic species and is quite popular in gardens, particularly as a marginal plant around water features, although it can be grown in regular flower beds too – it doesn’t need to be by water.
It’s easy to grow from seed, although the seed is tiny, like dust. The main issues are keeping the seedlings weed free and the soil moist whilst they become established.
It is a herbaceous perennial, so once established it will die back each autumn and regrow each spring, providing flowers that are very attractive to bees, moths and butterflies.