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.
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- Plant out
- Sow seeds
Month by month
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.
With both summer and winter savory, harvest the leafy shoots and use fresh for the best flavour. Plants can become leggy if not harvested regularly, so snip them back as often as you can.
Savory leaves have a rich, spicy, peppery flavour. To use in the kitchen, strip the leaves from the stems, then chop and add to a range of dishes, including beans and stews.
As winter savory is evergreen, it can be harvested all year round.
Summer savory is best harvested in early summer before it starts to flower, when the flavour is stronger and sweeter. As it’s an annual, it dies off in autumn, but the leaves can be dried for use in winter – hang up sprigs in a warm, dark, well-ventilated place. When fully dried, store the leaves in an air-tight jar.
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