Growing Belladonna (Deadly Nightshade)
I’m taking my first steps into growing poisons and adding to my small collection of entheogenic plants. I have a very established Wormwood, two Black/Common Nightshades that pop up seasonally out the front of my house (it’s considered a weed in Australia) and I have begun to grow Mandrakes. My next choice was to try Belladonna, otherwise known as Deadly Nightshade. Belladonna – like Mandrake – is from the Solanaceae family of plants. It is a witch plant of legend and considered one of the ‘Gothic’ herbs. It is deadly, of that have no doubt, so it will be a plant that will be handled carefully. I think its latin name gives the message clearly – Atropa Belladonna. The Atropa is named for the Greek Goddess of Fate Atropos – the Fate who cut the threads of life. Quite telling isn’t it? It certainly gives one pause.
Belladonna has to be germinated the same way as Mandrake, by soaking in cold water for two weeks (to mimic the thaw of snow I believe) in the fridge with the water changed daily. A small pill bottle or something equivalent is good to use, I’m using an old pill bottle, and can be kept in the fridge without taking up much room. I’m keeping mine in the door of the fridge. I’ve made sure to put a note on the fridge so I don’t forget to change the water. Sometimes life gets in the way and I don’t necessarily remember everything I’m supposed to do. My seeds will sit for two weeks at which point I will plant them out in little seedling containers and hopefully before long, little nightshades will appear.
I will likely use the Belladonna for ointments, incenses and such when I have a little more experience of the poisons under my belt. I will also sell the seeds (when I am able to harvest them), dried berries and dried plant materials in the By Bone and Bane Apothecary – but that’s a little ways off for now.