Lovage

LovageA hardy perennial with dark green shoots and a big, bold flavor — tastes like celery!

Sunlight: Full sun to partial shade
Maturity: 85-95 days from seed
Height: 4 to 6 feet
Spacing: 24 to 36 inches apart, 3 to 5 feet between rows

Native to southern Europe, growing lovage (Levisticum officinale) is easy! The leaves, stems, roots and seeds of this old-time herb are all edible and taste a lot like celery, but stronger. Perennial plants are large — up to 7 feet tall — and very hardy, no trouble to maintain.

Beloved during the Middle Ages, lovage could be found in almost every kitchen garden where it was cultivated for medicinal and culinary purposes. Today, the herb’s most popular usage is in soups, stews and salads, similar to celery. Lovage may also be useful for relieving abdominal pains due to gastrointestinal gas when consumed as a tea.

Site Preparation:

Lovage prefers full sun to light shade and a rich, moisture-laden, organic soil. Before you plant, consider how much space can be devoted to growing this attractive herb. Mature plants will reach 4 to 7 feet tall, which makes it the perfect backdrop for any garden. Grows well in large containers, too! Learn How to Start an Herb Garden here.

Tip: In mid-summer, the greenish-yellow flowers of lovage attracts a large number of beneficial insects and pollinators.

How to Plant:

Lovage grows well from seed. Start indoors 6-8 weeks before planting outside. Sow 1/4 inch deep. Seeds will germinate in 10-20 days. Transplant after the danger of frost has passed and apply an all-purpose organic fertilizer to promote healthy growth.

Harvesting:

Lovage may be harvested after the first growing season. As with most culinary herbs, cut in the morning after the dew has dried. Do not wash the leaves or aromatic oils will be lost. Lovage is best used fresh but can be stored frozen in plastic bags or dried. To dry, tie the cuttings in small bunches and hang upside down in a well-ventilated, dark room (watch How to Dry Herbs — video).

Insects and Disease:

Insects and disease are not typically a problem.

Seed Saving Instructions:

Lovage produces huge heads of seed. Allow them to dry on plants; remove and collect. Seed heads may also be bagged to capture ripening seed.

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