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.
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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 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.
Sorrel leaves can be harvested from late spring to autumn. Regular picking encourages plants to produce more leaves.
Choose the young tender leaves, which have the strongest citrus tang.
The leaves are best used fresh, in salads and various cooked dishes, including eggs.
They can also be frozen or dried, but lose a lot of their flavour.
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.