Sorrel

These perennial herbs are grown for their tangy, slightly citrusy tasting leaves that are perfect for adding a kick to salads, sauces and egg dishes, or to make a classic potage Germiny or cream of sorrel soup.

Red-veined sorrel

Sow

Sorrel is easy to start from seed or you can save time and buy a ready-grown plant so you can start pick leaves immediately.

Seed can be started between February and July. Sow seeds in pots 1cm (1/2 in) deep and place in a light position to germinate. When large enough to handle, divide the rootball up and give individual seedlings their own 5cm (2in) container. Plants can be placed outdoors in late spring and will eventually need a 30cm (12in) wide pot filled with soil-based compost.

Grow

Grow in well-drained soil in a sunny or lightly shaded spot, or plant into the middle of a container filled with multi-purpose compost.

Water plants often, especially during warm, dry summers.

Nip out flowers to prevent plants running to seed.

Top growth of plants will die back in autumn. Raise pots up onto special pot feet or even bricks to allow excess moisture to drain away, reducing the risk of compost remaining soggy and roots rotting.

Divide established plants every couple of years in spring or autumn to rejuvenate congested clumps and to ensure plants are productive.

Plant

Pot grown plants can be planted out into well drained, moist soil in sun or partial shade.

Harvesting

Best used fresh, pick leaves by hand from spring to early autumn. Young leaves near the tips of shoots taste better than larger leaves lower down the stems.

Varieties

French sorrel:Also known as buckler-leaved sorrel, this one has green, shield-shaped leaves with citrusy tang. Grows to 15cm (6in) high by 20cm (8in) wide.

Common sorrel:Common sorrel has long, leathery leaves. Grows to 1m (3ft).

Red-veined sorrel:Red-veined sorrel has tart, bright green oval-shaped leaves marked with red veins. Grows to 1m (3ft).

'Silver Shield':Silver-green leaves. Grows to 15cm (6in) high by 20cm (8in) wide.


Buy sorrel seed

Do now

  • Protect plants over winter

Month by month

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

Get involved

The Royal Horticultural Society is the UK’s leading gardening charity. We aim to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.