Whether you’re a green witch or simply someone who incorporates plants in your craft, you may have heard about the use of menstrual blood in plant care. Some people swear by it, claiming that it greatly improves the health of their houseplants or outdoor gardens. Meanwhile, others view it as unnecessary — or even a little gross. But what are the facts?

What history says

It’s popular to see people boasting of the ancient practices of women who used their menstrual blood to water their plants — but is there any truth to these claims? According to the book Mothers and Daughters of Invention, by Autumn Stanley, the ancient Greek ritual Thesmophoria involved the mixing of menstrual blood with grain for fertility. The ritual, which was dedicated to Demeter and Persephone, involved women only. Men were not only barred from participation, but they weren’t even allowed to be present or see the ritual take place. As mentioned previously, menstrual blood was mixed with the seeds of grain, which was added to the soil as a means of disposal as well as a means to symbolically provide life force to future crops. The blood would also fertilize the soil due to the nutrients found within it.

Ancient Greeks weren’t the only ones to make use of menstrual blood in planting and gardening. Mothers and Daughters of Invention also states that numerous cultures made use of blood as fertilizer throughout most of human existence. Ancient African women, South American women and even women during the early Victorian era have used their menses in gardening — either simply as fertilizer, or as part of spiritual practice.

What’s in Menstrual Blood

Menses is made up of blood, vaginal fluid and various cell material — all of which are rich in various nutrients. Vaginal fluid — minus the blood — contains electrolytes, various proteins, calcium, magnesium and potassium. Menstrual blood, which comes from your uterine lining, is extra rich in iron. It also contains phosphorus, nitrogen, potassium and around a dozen proteins. All of these nutrients are found in commercial plant fertilizers, which makes it easy to see why menstrual blood has been used as a fertilizer for plants in the past — and why this practice is making a popular comeback.

Should You Do It?

There’s no doubt that menstrual blood contains beneficial nutrients, and there’s no doubt that women have used it as a fertilizer in the past. However, there are some things to consider before making the decision to use your own menses to fertilize plants.

  • Soil needs – Different soils contain different nutrients, and are deficient in others. If you’re working with soil that is already rich in nitrogen and iron, then adding more of these nutrients could over-enrich the soil and negatively affect your plants. For example, if you have too much nitrogen in your soil, your plants may not flower or fruit. On the other hand, if you’re just wanting your plants to grow lots of green foliage, a little extra nitrogen is a good thing. In the worst cases, too many nutrients — or too much fertilizer — can actual damage and kill your plants.
  • Your personal health – even though menses generally contains nutrients, every person’s body is different. Your own personal health affects the quality of your menstrual blood and the nutrients in it — as well as possible toxins.
  • Odors – Since menstrual blood contains endometrial tissue, it can sometimes emit an odor — and when it decomposes, the odor can become quite putrid. Not only can this odor be off-putting to you and others, it could attract a variety of pests. This is why most garden compost doesn’t contain meat products. Pests such as flies (and their larvae), spiders and even rodents might become attracted to your plants if you enrich them with menstrual blood.

If you’re willing to overlook some of the possible issues in exchange for the benefits, then using menstrual blood as a fertilizer can be good for your plants. If this is something that interests you, then there are a variety of ways you can use your menses as a fertilizer — and if you’re a green witch, this activity can become part of your witchcraft practice.