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PlantFiles: Lovage
Levisticum officinale

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Family: Apiaceae (ay-pee-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Levisticum (lev-IS-tee-kum) (Info)
Species: officinale (oh-fiss-ih-NAH-lee) (Info)

7 vendors have this plant for sale.

42 members have or want this plant for trade.

View this plant in a garden

Category:
Herbs

Height:
36-48 in. (90-120 cm)

Spacing:
18-24 in. (45-60 cm)

Hardiness:
USDA Zone 3a: to -39.9 C (-40 F)
USDA Zone 3b: to -37.2 C (-35 F)
USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 C (-30 F)
USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 C (-25 F)
USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)
USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)
USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)
USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)
USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)
USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)

Sun Exposure:
Sun to Partial Shade

Danger:
N/A

Bloom Color:
Chartreuse (Yellow-Green)

Bloom Time:
Mid Summer

Foliage:
Grown for foliage
Herbaceous
Aromatic

Other details:
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater
Flowers are fragrant

Soil pH requirements:
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)
7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:
Non-patented

Propagation Methods:
By dividing the rootball
From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall
From seed; sow indoors before last frost

Seed Collecting:
Bag seedheads to capture ripening seed
Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds

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There are a total of 9 photos.
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Profile:

6 positives
3 neutrals
1 negative

Gardeners' Notes:

RatingAuthorContent
Neutral coriaceous On Jun 1, 2014, coriaceous from ROSLINDALE, MA wrote:

I like this plant, but my experience with it wasn't happy.

I planted it in rich well-drained soil in partial shade---there was still enough sun to ripen tomatoes next to it. Every time I visited the garden, the lovage had a few mature leaves turning an unsightly yellow and dying off conspicuously.

I wanted to like this plant, because of the big, bold, almost tropical-looking foliage, but after a year I got tired of the deadleafing and got rid of it.

Positive LilyToes On May 31, 2014, LilyToes from Ouray, CO (Zone 4a) wrote:

I wanted to post about what an amazingly delicious herb this is. I was reading reviews below, and I would recommend NOT drying it. Please, eat this plant fresh. It is so delightful, you won't regret it. I planted lovage by seed last summer, by May the following year (this year of 2014), it has already doubled in size and is a small bush. Last summer, I would take stalks/leaves/stems of this plant, and use cooking twine to wrap around seafood/meats to grill out over the fire. Lovage is literally one of the most tastiest herbs out there! I can't say enough good things about it.. It tastes like cucumbers and nuts combined.. You can add it to raw to salads, mince it for sautes, or just wrap it around your veggies/meats when cooking out as stated before. Again, do use fresh. I would imagine drying it would take a lot of the wonderful flavor right ouf of it. Chop it up like dill, or any other fresh herb, and add it to everything! TRY THIS HERB!

Positive paulobessa On Jul 7, 2012, paulobessa from selfoss
Iceland wrote:

I really like this plant. It grows well, it does not need any care at all and it gives always nice tasty leaves that are mainly used to give flavour to food. Why buying flavouring, this is just it and it costs nothing and it is more healthy.

It grows sun or shade, does not need much watering, divides well, and it never spread here, but we are in Iceland and soil is also poor. It flowers every year but it is a perennial. It stands very well strong cold but dislikes hot weather.

Positive PermaCycle On May 31, 2012, PermaCycle from Indianapolis, IN (Zone 5b) wrote:

Lovage is a perennial that will add a stately and aromatic presence to any garden. It is often grown in Europe as a culinary herb. What makes it attractive? First, it is easily grown from division and has few, if any, pests. Importantly, its flowers are an intoxicating plant to bees and hoverflies. As a food for humans, it has very aromatic leaves that enhance most cuisines, especially Indian, Mediterranean, and Italian. The leaves can be eaten alone when young or added to cooked greens, beans, chili, salsa, curry, and almost any soup or stew. In growing lovage

Some here have indicated invasiveness, but I have not found this so; but the plant will certainly dominate space if not managed wisely.

What is my experience? The first year, I obtained a lovage plant from a vendor and planted it in autumn. By July of the next season, it had completely overwhelmed the surrounding plants. A little research informed me that lovage likes to be cut back to ground level during the heat of summer. Older greens can be bitter anyway, so all the better to send them to the compost bin. However, since I liked its attraction to solitary bees and hoverflies, I left some flowering stalks for the wildlife and cut the remainder to the ground and was rewarded with a growth of tender young leaves for autumn stews.

Also, in my research, I learned that lovage not only prefers direct sun, but a moist, well-drained soil as well, a combination not always easy to maintain in a bio-diverse bed for busy gardeners. So, in the fall, I transplanted the Valerian and pyrethrum growing next to the lovage to another insectary bed, giving the lovage more room. To promote moisture retention in the bed, I elevated it with a 2x8 surround and replanted most plants in the bed, but let the lovage remain in its current position in a kind of trench, surrounded by a border of paver stones before I filled the bed with new growing media. Fortunately, at its initial planting, I had located the lovage at the west front side of the bed so the soil level tapers down in a kind of spiral to that corner of the bed and was not forced to alter a long taproot. After the first hard frost had knocked it down, I added about 3 inches of soil and some straw for the winter. This spring, I planted fava beans throughout the bed to help with soil enrichment. The beans will be dried and most will used for green manuring other beds next season and the rest for seeding new plants.

Lovage can be a positive garden addition, just follow these simple steps:

1. Locate the plant in a permanent position at initial planting or grow it in a deep container until you decide where it works best for you. Maybe, the container works best; just wrap it up to overwinter.

2. In the permanent location, plant deep, surrounding the planting hole at rootball level with stones or pavers.

3. After the plant reaches a height of about 2-3 feet during the season and before it begins to flower in late spring, cut it to the ground leaving at least 5 flowering stalks on one side for bees and hoverflies. FYI: The flowering stalks will need to be supported as these can reach a height of 5+ feet. The leaves can be harvested either by cutting them off their stems and drying them on racks or wrapping bunches of stems together with string and hanging them in a location with low humidity. I boil the young stems and stalks together with bay leaves and store the liquid in the refrigerator and freezer for later use in soups, cooked greens, and stews. The residue goes to the compost bin. I like the idea also of using the stalks as straws in appropriate summer drinks, something I plan to do this summer with vegetable juices.

4. Divide the plant every 3-5 years depending upon expansion of the rootball and make another gardener happy with a division.

Positive CurtisJones On Jun 11, 2008, CurtisJones from Longmont, CO wrote:

From your friends at Botanical Interests: This heirloom celery relative is a "salad herb" that has been grown as a seasoning since the time of the ancient Greeks and Romans. It has a stronger, warmer flavor than celery (a cross between celery and anise). The leaves can be added to soups or stews, and salads. The seeds can be saved and ground as a salt substitute. You can even cut the hollow stems to use as natural straws (A cool way to serve tomato beverages and Bloody Marys.) Of course, this vigorous plant is much larger than celery. On average, the plants reach 3'-6' tall. Hardy to USDA zone 3, the plants die back to the ground each winter and return in the spring. It is tolerant of sun or shade, and if you allow the plants to flower, they will attract beneficial insects to your garden.

Negative pajaritomt On Jul 30, 2006, pajaritomt from Los Alamos, NM (Zone 5a) wrote:

In my garden lovage has become invasive. I have not been able to get rid of it. I put it in a bed with excellent soil and a watering system. It nearly took over. I am still not rid of it. The leaves taste good cut up in salad dressing, but as far as I am concerned, celery leaves are just as good and are not invasive.
Spread by seed and underground runners.


Neutral EAPierce On Feb 24, 2006, EAPierce from Idaho Falls, ID (Zone 5a) wrote:

I also found lovage to be quite versatile, but it was too big for my small sun garden. It's as hardy as they come and thrived in the heavy clay Idaho soil, never showing even the least bit of ill health. I see here that it's height is normally no more than 4'... perhaps mine was freakish, but if left uncut the stalks got up to 9' tall, dwarfing the sunflowers, and had to be staked. I didn't use it near enough to let it take up so much space in my garden, so I had to get rid of it.

Positive bencolder On Jun 5, 2005, bencolder from Toronto
Canada wrote:

Of all the herbs I have grown in my garden, I find lovage to be the most versatile. I planted it about ten years ago and it has come up regularly with no hinderance from insects or disease. A comparatively large herb, lovage must be grown in an area where it can thrive without shading out smaller plants or causing any obstruction. I am constantly chopping up the leaves to use in green salads, soups and stews. Its also a great additive when barbequing fish in tin foil, and it can be chopped finely and placed in burger patties. I also use it in pasta salads, gravy and tomato sauce.

Lovage can sometimes taste bitter after a dry spell or later in the season.

Positive lupinelover On Jan 24, 2003, lupinelover from Grove City, OH (Zone 6a) wrote:

Lovage can be harvested from spring through fall for use instead of buying celery. Regular harvesting keeps the plant from out-growing its boundaries, and from self-sowing everywhere.

Division is very simple: just a light tug on one of the shoots re-planted will work.

Slugs seem to like it as much as people, though, so it should be protected until it grows large enough to withstand some damage.

Neutral poppysue On May 29, 2001, poppysue from Westbrook, ME (Zone 5a) wrote:

Lovage is a very tall perennial herb native to the Balkan countries. It was a favorite herb in colonial gardens and used as a flavoring much like celery. In fact, it looks like a giant celery plant and can be substituted for celery in almost any recipe. The hollow stems and seeds can be candied to make sweet confections.

Lovage prefers cool growing conditions with a winter dormancy so it is not suitable for tropical zones. Plants grow up to 5 feet tall when in flowers and the light green leaves are a bold attractive addition to the herb garden. Flowers are a seedy yellowish-green cluster and not very ornamental. Some gardeners prefer to cut the seed stalks off to keep the apperance tidy. Grow lovage in partial sun in good garden soil and adequate moisture.

Regional...

This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Ceres, California
Hesperia, California
Long Beach, California
Merced, California
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Denver, Colorado
Longmont, Colorado
Montrose, Colorado
Idaho Falls, Idaho
Greenville, Indiana
Indianapolis, Indiana
Iowa City, Iowa
Falmouth, Maine
White Pigeon, Michigan
Helena, Montana
Lanoka Harbor, New Jersey
Neptune, New Jersey
Plainfield, New Jersey
Los Alamos, New Mexico
Harrisburg, North Carolina
Columbus, Ohio
Boise City, Oklahoma
Sherwood, Oregon
Milford, Pennsylvania
Troy, Pennsylvania
Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania
North Augusta, South Carolina
Ogden, Utah
Stanwood, Washington
Milwaukee, Wisconsin



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