There are two main types of this strongly-flavoured herb, which is often used in bean and meat dishes, stuffings and sausages – it’s an important flavouring of salami. Summer savory is a half-hardy annual, while winter savory is a semi-evergreen perennial with a slightly stronger taste. Grow winter savory to harvest leaves all year round.

Winter savory


Seeds of summer and winter savory can be started indoors spring. Sow thinly onto the surface of pots of damp compost. Do not cover. Place on a light windowsill to germinate. Seedlings should appear within two to three weeks. When large enough to handle, prick out carefully into individual pots of multi-purpose compost.


Water plants regularly, especially during hot, dry spells, but don’t over water.

Keep plants bushy and productive by picking tips regularly.

There’s generally no need to feed savory, but if plants are harvested often, ensure they remain vigorous with the occasional feed with a balanced liquid fertiliser.  

If possible, put pots of winter savory in a cool, frost-free place over winter to allow harvesting to continue. Reduce watering until spring.

Summer savory will die in late autumn – sow seeds for more plants the following spring.


Well-rooted plants can be planted outdoors in late spring or when there is no danger from frosts. Choose an open, sunny spot with well-drained soil.


Pick shoots as required, stripping the leaves from stems before chopping and using in the kitchen. Plants will become leggy if left untended, so remember to snip back as often as you can. Leaves of annual summer savory can be harvested and dried before plants flower. Store in an airtight container.


Summer savory:Bushy plant, 35cm (14in) tall with small, oblong leaves.

Summer savory ‘Aromata’:Stronger flavour than common summer savory.

Winter savory Citriodora:Small plant with lemon-flavoured leaves.

Winter savory:Grows up to 40cm (16in) with leathery, slender pointed leaves.

Winter savory ‘Purple Mountain’:Compact plant to 23cm (9in) with purple flowers.

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