Growing Hyssop

July 12, 2010 § Leave a comment

Hyssop is native to Europe and used as early as the seventh century as a purifying tea and for medicine. It is said to cure all manner of ailments from head lice to shortness of breath.

We grow hyssop for its leaves to flavor green salads, soups, and stews.

Hyssop is a perennial that grows 2-3 feet tall and attracts bees, butterflies and hummingbirds (important pollinators).

Growing a hyssop plant is easy …

Sowing

Hyssop needs dry, well-drained soil. Work in plenty of organic matter, such as horse manure and add a light application of organic fertilizer to the planting hole.

When growing hyssop in pots, make sure it is large enough to accommodate the large root systems. Transplanting to the garden later, after the risk of frost is over, is possible.

Sow hyssop seeds indoors in containers or directly in the garden 8-10 weeks before the last frost. Hyssop seeds take between 14-21 days to germinate.

Maintenance

New plants can be created by root division in fall. Pruning to the first set of leaves after flowering creates a compact plant and better flowering in the following year.

When blooming is over and seed capsules have dried, collect and store some for growing hyssop the next season. Also, depending on context, hyssop plants self-seed.

Gathering and harvesting

The leaves can be harvested at any time during the year. We pick the flowers (we leave some on for picking later for growing hyssop the next season) and young flowering tops as flowering begins.

When harvesting a hyssop, cut it in the morning hours when dew has gone. Hang the plants upside down in small bunches and dry in a warm, dark, well ventilated place. Or, place the leaves in a well-closed plastic bag after removing them from the stems and put in freezer until ready to use.

Remedies

Hyssop tea has a strong stimulating effect on the intestinal and respiratory system ~ 8-15 gr. per liter water.

Compresses can be used on wounds.

Gurgling alleviates gum pains.

Recipes containing hyssop

Use small amounts of leaves ~ especially when dried ~ in dishes because the bitter, slightly minty flavour can overpower a dish.

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