Do you use herbs, flowers, vines, or anything else? To all fantasy writers: which plants do you think are best to do what?
saffron, sage, valerian, coriander, anise, thyme are real herbs that sound fantasy like
hemlock, belladonna, mandrake, datura, henbane, wolfsbane, lilly of the valley, foxglove, angel's trumpet, mistletoe, daffodil are poisonus herbs
Vines are a cool idea, and also remember to specify which part of a plant you're using. For example: the pollen of three aniseed myrtle flowers, the stem of an elderflower (I'm just thinking tings up randomly right now, but be sure to research which plants are best for what.
hair is known to be used for magic. Also, if you're making a certain kind of potion, soaking some of the wood that corresponds to that kind of magic would make sense. Such as soaking linden in a healing potion, or holly in either a power enhancing or calming potion. Of course, like the holly tree, most woods have multiple kinds of magical abilities that may contradict one another when being put in a potion. So if you do use woods as some ingredients, go on a harry potter wand wood list to research all the types of strengths each wood has. :)
Definitely, use the floral language to incorporate meanings in your potions. Google floriography and tell me what you find!
I personally like to use classic medicinal uses! But if you're trying to make a potion-potion, you should add in some generally dangerous plants or plants that are rare and/or hard to find! I've found that a little bit of plant research can create a bit more adventure or introducing something new to someone who's never heard of many plants before. You don't have to listen to this or anything, though. Just a suggestion!
All depends on what you're making the potion for
Depends on what you are looking at creating. If your looking to create healing versus poisons its best to actually look into medieval medicine and compare it with modern medicine. I found a book at my local library lol which happened to be in the Jr.'s section. Here: https://www.amazon.com/Medicine-Medieval-History-Saviour-Pirotta/dp/1583405739 that talks about everything from diseases to broken bones. Common ways of treating them as well. I think it had a section on herbs. I may be wrong. Its been a while since I read it. Another thing to partake of is all the various neo pagan healing sites out there that talk about healing herbs.
If you watch or read about Borgia there are small parts here and there in the intrigue where people use specific things to poison their targets. Or we can shorten learning time here: http://mentalfloss.com/article/23174/5-classic-poisons-and-people-who-used-them With the Borgia T.V. series (the only good one https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Borgia_(TV_series) ) example though you get a glimpse of sales, distribution, and how people dance around the illegal alchemy. Both Lucrezia and Cesare are found seeking alchemy or pagan help in the series at various times. Enough to kill a man sized horse I believe was the quote?
Here is a witch garden: http://balconygardenweb.com/how-to-create-a-witchs-garden/
Oh and it is good to note that even too much of a good thing can also be a bad thing. Remember the water contest with the Utah local radio station in the early 2000's that went viral? If not lemme catch you to speed. They held a water drinking contest and a person overdosed on water and died. They drank themselves to death and a few others hospitalized themselves. Needless to say my favorite station was sued and shut down. :( It sucked for all involved. This is why moderation is important. Even in good things.
Its also important to realize that drugs or "herbs" can interact with each other for better or worse. I would check out drug interactions and dosages. A lot of herbal stuff warns people that they may not realize they have allergies to something and encourage people to slowly increase dosage to get the body to both recognize it and digest it properly.
Hope that helps!
I've had really good luck finding spells and a TON of witchcraft information on Pinterest of all places