Sunlight: Full sun to partial shade
Maturity: 75-85 days from seed
Height: 12 to 24 inches
Spacing: 12 to 24 inches apart, 2 to 4 feet between rows
Home herb gardeners are growing hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis) for its dark green leaves which are used to flavor salads, soups, liqueurs and stews. Attractive plants have woody stems, small, pointed leaves and spikes of pink, red, white and blue-purple flowers. This hardy perennial grows 2-3 feet tall.
Native to southern Europe, Hyssop was used as early as the seventh century as a purifying tea and for medicine. The ancient herb is said to cure all manner of ailments from head lice to shortness of breath.
“Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.” (Psalm 51:7)
Flavorful and exotic, heirloom herbs have passed through kitchens and tea rooms for generations. And they’re easy to cultivate… try raising them indoors! Planting instructions are included with each packet and shipping is FREE!
- Medium-sized plant whose leaves are used for salads, liqueurs and soups
- Flowers are pink, red, white and purple
- Start seedlings indoors 8-10 weeks before last frost; be patient with germination
- Set seedlings outdoors after last frost
- Choose a site with full sun and dry soil that drains well
- Best used fresh
- Very few pests and diseases — considered an excellent companion plant
Hyssop prefers full sun to partial shade and dry, well-drained soil. Prior to planting, work in plenty of organic matter, such as compost or aged animal manure. It is also helpful to add a light application of organic fertilizer to the planting hole.
Hyssop grows equally well in containers, rock gardens and window boxes. Read our article How to Grow Herbs in Pots here.
How to Plant
Sow indoors just beneath the surface of the soil 8-10 weeks before the last frost. Seeds will germinate in 14-21 days. Transplant out in the spring after the last frost. Set plants 12-24 inches apart.
In autumn, new plants can be created by root division. Pruning to the first set of leaves after flowering will create a more compact plant and better flowering in the following year (watch How to Grow an Herb Garden — video).
Use the youngest leaves and stems as needed. Cut in the morning after the dew has dried for optimal flavor. Do not wash the leaves or aromatic oils will be lost.
Hyssop is best used fresh but can also be stored frozen in plastic bags or dried. To dry, tie the cuttings in small bundles and hang upside down in a well-ventilated, dark room. When dry, remove the leaves from the stems and store whole. Crush or grind just before use (watch How to Dry Herbs — video).
Insects and Disease
Hyssop does not have many insects or disease problems. In fact, several articles suggest that the perennial herb repels flea beetles and cabbage moths when planted in vegetable gardens. Hyssop is often grown as a companion plant and is particularly beneficial to cabbage and grapes.
Seed Saving Instructions
Seeds are ready to harvest when the seed capsules are completely dry and brown. The capsules can then be picked and the seeds easily separated by hand.
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