Pick leaves as required
Hyssop, Hyssopus officinalis, is a semi-evergreen shrub in the mint family, yet is less commonly grown than other culinary herbs. It was particularly popular during the Middle Ages, used as a flavouring in soups and stuffings. Now it’s more commonly used in the distillation of certain liquors and to give the famous green colour to absinthe. However, it’s ideal for using in hearty stews and goes well with meat such as lamb or chicken. Its leaves have a strong flavour so only a few are required when cooking. It makes a good alternative to sage.
Hyssop can be used to make a tea which is an excellent tonic for a cough or a cold, but should be avoided if you’re pregnant.
Hyssop bears spikes of blue flowers that are particularly attractive to pollinators. It’s popular with beekeepers as it’s said to make excellent honey.
How to grow hyssop
Hyssop grows best in full sun, in moist but well-drained soil. Prune in early spring to encourage bushier growth into the summer.
Where to grow hyssop
Hyssop works well in borders and as an edging plant. It will also grow well in a pot – just make sure the pot is large enough to contain its large root system.
How to care for hyssop
Prune hyssop plants as growth starts in early spring, to encourage the plants to bush out.
Watch our Golden Rules video on how to care for garden herbs:
How to propagate hyssop
It’s easy to grow hyssop from seed – simply sow indoors or directly into the ground after the last frost. Seeds will take 14-21 days to germinate. You can also take softwood cuttings in summer.
Growing hyssop: problem solving
Hyssop is relatively trouble-free and easy to grow.
How to harvest and store hyssop
It’s best to use hyssop leaves when fresh but you can also dry or freeze them. Harvest the leaves in the morning, after any dew has dried. Cut stems of leaves and gather into bunches, hang in a dark and well ventilated area. You can also strip the leaves from their stems, place in a plastic bag and freeze.
Hyssop varieties to grow
- Hyssopus officinalis ‘Roseus’ – Dense spikes of small pink flowers. Height x Spread: 80cm, spread 90cm
- Hyssopus officinalis f. albus – Spikes of small white flowers. H x S: 80cm, spread 90cm
- Hyssopus officinalis subsp. aristatus – small dark blue flowers on compact plants. H x S: 30cm, spread 45cm