Lovage

The young leaves of this perennial herb are ideal for adding to salads, soups, stews and potato dishes, while blanched shoots can be eaten as a vegetable, and the roots are edible as a cooked vegetable or raw in salads. The stalks can be candied like angelica, while dried leaves can be used to make a tea. Thanks to its ornamental good looks, it is perfectly at home grown among other plants in a sunny or partially shaded border.

Lovage

Sow

Start plants from seed in spring. Sow a few into a small pot filled with seed compost and cover with a thin layer of perlite – don't sow too many seeds, due to its size one plant is generally enough in the garden.

Place in a heated propagator to germinate.

When seedlings are large enough, prick out into individual pots.

Plant out well rooted plants into the garden in late spring or early summer.

Alternatively, save time and buy ready grown plants in spring.

Grow

Plant in rich, deep, moist soil in sun or partial shade.

Lovage is a prolific self seeder. Retain some seedlings if you like, but weed out others to prevent the plants from smothering other plants in the border.

Trim plants in summer to encourage a flush of new shoots.

Plants will turn back and start to die back in autumn. At this time, cut stems back to just above ground level.

Large clumps can be divided in the spring.
 

Harvesting

Leaves are best picked before plants start to flower. Young shoots are blanched by ‘earthing’ up to deprive the stems of light, rather like trench celery. To do this, loosely wrap a length of light proof paper 38cm (15in) long) around the stems, when plants are around 30cm (12in) tall. Leave a third of the plant exposed. Secure with twine.
 

Varieties

Levisticum officinale:

Growing up to 2m (6ft), lovage has leaves that look and smell similar to celery and is topped with sprays of yellow flower in summer.


Buy herbs

Do now

  • Cut back foliage

Month by month

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Sow
Plant out
Plant
Harvest

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