Levisticum officinale. Sow some Lovage seeds for the tallest of the garden herbs. Lovage makes a striking accent in any garden, especially when it flowers. It is an umbelliferous plant in the family Apiaceae, which makes it a cousin of the carrot. But this herb is a massive perennial plant that grows 1.8–2.5m (6–8') in a single season. Use the leaves in salads or to make soup or season broths. The flavour is distinctly celery-like. Even the root can be eaten as a vegetable or grated into salads. Give it a corner in your vegetable or herb garden, but one or two plants will be ample. We recommend allowing the plants to bloom, as their flower heads are attractive to a wide range of predatory and beneficial insects. The flowers are followed by seeds that can be harvested and used as a spice, with a flavour similar to fennel seeds.
Lovage is deer resistant, and an important companion plant for the vegetable garden.
Lovage has been used since the time of the ancient Greeks as a remedy for stomach upsets, and to aid digestion. As herbs go, this is a massive plant, so you may only want one or two for your home garden. Follow this handy How to Grow Lovage from seeds guide. The leaves of lovage can part a wonderful meaty flavour to vegetable soups, stews and stocks.
Season & Zone
Season: Warm season
Exposure: Full sun or partial shade
Zone: Hardy from zone 3 and up
Start indoors in spring or direct sow in the fall. If starting indoors, try to maintain a soil temperature of 15°C (60°F). Once seedlings are big enough to handle, harden them off before transplanting to the garden.
Sow seeds 5mm (¼”) deep, three or four seeds per pot, and thin to the strongest seedling. Germination takes 10-14 days. Keep soil moist until they are established, and transplant out at least 60cm (24″) apart.
Choose the site for your lovage with care, as they are long lived perennials, and they grow tall. They will tolerate partial shade to full sun. Lovage develops a long taproot, so cultivate the bed deeply, adding well rotted manure as you do. Consider grouping lovage together with other perennial food plants like asparagus and rhubarb in a permanent bed. Allow for a spread of at least 1m (3′).
The leaves of lovage can part a wonderful meaty flavour to vegetable soups, stews and stocks. After the herb has flowered, the leaves gain a bitter taste, so it is best harvested in early Summer and frozen as you would parsley. Chop the leaves finely and distribute them in ice cube trays, then cover with water. When the cubes are frozen, put them in ziplock bags.
Chopping back a big plant may expose you to the sap, which can burn skin.