Levisticum are hardy perennial herbs that reach from 7 to 20 cm in height.
The common name for Levisticum is lovage and both the leaves and seeds can be used in cooking.
The leaves of lovage (Levisticum officinale) look similar to parsley and it has tiny yellow flowers.
If planning to grow and harvest lovage in the herb garden then the plant should be allowed to grow for two years before harvesting; leaves can be removed three times during the growing season and used fresh, dried or blanched and frozen.
Levisticum officinale Photograph
Levisticum - Lovage photograph by Yashima.
Lovage seeds should be harvested when the fruit begins to open; cut off the head and hang upside to dry in a cool dark place.
Common Names: Lovage.
Life Cycle: Hardy perennial.
Height: 70 to 100 inches (180 to 250 cm).
Native: Europe. Southwestern Asia.
Growing Region: Zones 4 to 8.
Flowers: Late spring to the middle of summer.
Flower Details: Yellow, green-yellow. Tiny. Umbels.
Foliage: Dark green to yellow-green. Tripinnate. Triangular. Toothed.
Sow Outside: 1/4 inch (6 mm). Late summer or the beginning of autumn using fresh seeds. Sow lots of seeds in one spot due to bad germination rates. Spacing 24 to 36 inches (60 to 90 cm).
Sow Inside: Use peat pots. Germination time: one to three weeks. Temperature: 60 to 70°F (16 to 21°C). Seven or eight weeks in advance. Transplant outdoors following the last frost.
Requirements and care: Full sunlight or light shade. Good drainage. Soil pH 6.0 to 7.0. Rich soil, moist soil. Mix in manure or compost. Provide a spring feed of manure or 5-10-5. Propagate: by dividing at the start of spring.
Harvesting: Lovage is grown for both leaves and seeds. When growing for a leaf harvest, then first grow for two years, and ensure any inflorescences are removed before they have chance to flower. Leaves can be harvested three times per annum. Seeds should be harvested as the fruit opens. Cut off the flower head, hang upside down in a cool and dark place until dry.
Miscellaneous: Lovage as many culinary uses and the leaves are often used in soups and salads. The seeds are used in a similar fashion to those of fennel. The roots are used to make an antiseptic lotion.
If growing Lovage from seed outdoors then fresh seed should be used and sown at a depth of 6 mm around the end of summer. They can grow in either a sunny or lightly shaded part of the garden that has good drainage. Ideally the soil should be of pH 6 to 7, rich and moist. The soil should have manure added to it every spring.
You can start to grow lovage indoors first. This should be done about 6 or 7 weeks before the plants are due to be put outdoors following the last frost of spring. Seeds should be sown thickly about 6 mm deep in peat pots, and will take about two to three weeks to germinate at 15 to 21 degrees Centigrade. Once growing transplant two or three Levisticum plants into the herb garden at about 90 cm apart.
If you are going to use Lovage leaves it is important to check the leaves before harvesting as they can become infested by leaf miners. If you require more Levisticum plants then they can be propagated by division early on in spring.