Introduction to Growing Savory in Containers
A member of the mint family, Savory is a small, green plant that is used to add flavor to food. Savory is a genus of about 30 species of aromatic herbs of the mint family (Lamiaceae). The dried leaves and flowering tops of several species are used to flavor many foods and are a popular ingredient in herb bouquets. The dried leaves are greenish-brown and have a fragrant aroma and a slightly sharp warm taste. Growing Savory in the home herb garden is easy, which is the same as both Winter Savory and Summer Savory are excellent additions to the kitchen. One of the advantages of growing Savory indoors in containers is that you can have plants growing year-round regardless of the outside temperature levels. When grown in an outdoor herb garden Summer Savory plant will die as the temperatures drop in the fall. Both types grow well from seed, so it’s recommended to sow seeds versus taking plant cuttings to propagate new plants. In this article we also discuss the below topics;
- Savory plants growing tips
- Is Savory a perennial
- Can you grow Summer Savory indoors
- How do you grow Savory
- Tips for Growing Summer Savory
- How do you grow Winter Savory
- How do you harvest Summer Savory
A Step by Step Guide to Growing Savory in Containers
Savory has been used for medicinal qualities as long as it has for culinary purposes. The leaves can be up to 3 cm long and usually take a lanceolate form. They are petiolate and opposite arranged. Winter Savory leaves are mostly leathery, whereas they are usually rather fluffy and slightly hairy of Summer Savory plant. During the flowering period, which generally lasts from June to the beginning of October, both the winter and the Summer Savory form white, blue-violet to pale pink flowers. The flowers are classic split lip-shaped flowers and the fruit ripen the dark brown seeds develop.
Types of Savory Plants to Growing in Containers
There are two types of Savory;
- Summer Savory and
- Winter Savory
Summer Savory is annual; Winter Savory is a perennial. The first thing to understand before you start planting Savory in the container is that there are two kinds of Savory. There is a Winter Savory plant, which is a perennial and has a more intense flavor. Then there is the Summer Savory plant, which is an annual and has a more subtle flavor. Both Winter Savory and Summer Savory are tasty, but if you are new to cooking with Savory, it is recommended that you start growing the Summer Savory first until you feel comfortable with your cooking Savory.
Summer Savory is a bushy annual that grows about 12 to 18 inches high. Winter Savory is a spreading perennial that grows 6 to 12 inches high. Summer and Winter Savory share a peppery flavor, but Summer Savory is milder. Use the leaves of either to flavor meat, beans, and other vegetables. Put Summer Savory in cooking water and it will cut the odors of cabbage, turnips, and other strong-smelling vegetables.
Winter Savory is a spreading perennial herb with narrow, dark-green leaves. It has a stronger, earthier flavor than Summer Savory, with notes of sage and pine. It is also known as mountain Savory this herb makes an attractive border plant in any herb or vegetable garden and flourishes when grown indoors in containers. Small clusters of flowers bloom in the mid to late-summer ranging in color from pale lavender, to pink, or white depending on the cultivar.
Unlike Winter Savory, Summer Savory is grown as an annual herb. It presents a hot, peppery flavor with notes of marjoram, mint, and thyme. Summer Savory grows to a height of 12 to 18 inches and features thickly branched stems covered in narrow dark green leaves. Summer Savory does best with plenty of light.
Sunlight and Soil Requirements for Growing Savory in Containers
Select a spot in full sun, though Savory can survive in part sun. Soil pH level should be around 6.7 and 7.3. The Savory plant doesn’t like wet feet, so give it well-drained soil that’s rich in organic matter.
Steps to Grow Savory from the Seed
Savory seeds can be sown any time of year when growing plants indoors but it’s best to start them in the spring. As your seedlings grow their rapid growth will correspond with increasing day lengths and more sun exposure.
Growing Media – Commercial potting mixes and coconut coir both make excellent substrates for growing plants in containers. Contrary to their name, potting soils contain no soil but are a mix of peat moss or coconut coir, pine bark, perlite, and vermiculite. Coconut coir is a renewable material made from the brown and white fibres found between the shell and the outer coating of a coconut seed. Both media are lightweight with excellent moisture retention.
Spacing – Space plants 12 to 18 inches apart. Space rows 12 to 18 inches apart. Winter Savory may require more room than Summer Savory.
Container growing – Summer Savory and Winter Savory can be grown in containers. Grow Summer Savory as an annual. Choose a container at least 6 inches deep and wide.
Starting Savory from seeds follows basic planting methods;
- Fill the container with the pre-moistened growing media of your choice.
- Sprinkle a small number of seeds across the top of the substrate. There is no need to cover them, the light helps germination.
- Place the container in an area where the ambient temperature is at least 21°C. You do not need to provide bottom heat for germination.
- Keep the soil moist but not saturated. Water helps to break down the seed coat, activating the processes that occur during germination while softening the exterior to allow roots and shoots to emerge.
- Dig in well-rotted manure or general fertilizer before sowing seed. Savory doesn’t need further feeding except for a side-feed of well-rotted manure mid-season. Water young plants well. Once Savory is well established, it will tolerate a little dry soil.
Propagate Savory from Cuttings
Stem cuttings have a much lower cost than purchasing seeds, but the main challenge lies in finding a plant to take cuttings from.
To start Savory plants from stem cuttings follow these directions;
Take a 4-inch stem cutting right below a node and remove all of the leaves from the bottom 2 inches of the stem.
- Place the cut end of the stem in a glass of water, allowing it to grow until newly generated roots are a couple of inches long.
- Fill the container with pre-moistened growing media of your choice.
- Carefully plant newly rooted cuttings in the substrate, 1 cutting per 6-inch pot and 3 per 12-inch container.
How to Grow Winter Savory
Winter Savory plant is a hardy semi-evergreen bush with glossy, dark green leaves and woody stems. It is easy to grow and, once established, care of Winter Savory is nominal. Winter Savory needs about 6 hours a day of sun. Plant in rich well-drained alkaline soil.
Spread the seeds on the soil and they require the light to propagate approximately 25-30cm apart. This herb gets from 6-12 inches in height and 8-12 inches across. Like most herbs, it thrives in the full sun of at least 6 hours per day in well-draining soil with a pH of 6.7. Sow seeds in the spring in flats to transplant outdoors once the soil warms; transplant seedlings 10-12 inches apart in the garden.
Winter Savory can also be propagated via cuttings. Take cuttings, the tips of new shoots, in late spring, and place them in pots of wet sand. When the cuttings root, transplant them to the garden or into another container. Harvest Winter Savory in the morning when the essential oils are at their most potent. It can then be dried or used fresh. In temperate climates, Winter Savory will go dormant in the winter and put out new leaves in the spring. Older plants tend to get woody, so keep them pruned out to encourage new plant growth.
You can also grow Winter Savory indoors in pots. Choose a wide pot at least six inches deep. This is one houseplant that does well with infrequent watering – once a week when it is growing strong in the spring, but maybe once every two weeks indoors. Propagate Winter Savory with cuttings. Stems will often root in a vase of water, or you can use new shoots potted in wet sand. As with all herbs, it is best to pick Winter Savory in the morning when its essential oils are strongest and most concentrated Winter Savory plant is a perennial and can be picked year-round.
How to Grow Summer Savory
Summer Savory plant grows to about 12 inches and produces a mound-shaped plant with finely textured stems that have a purple coloration. Plant leaves are long and narrow and have a grayish-green color. This is a great herb to grow indoors in containers, they are easy to grow and maintain. Keep a layer of stones at the bottom of the container under the soil to facilitate drainage, and keep well-watered. Over-watering is easy with seedlings; it should suffice to just make sure the soil remains moist.
Summer Savory plant is grown from seeds sown directly in the garden or indoors and then transplanted after the danger of frost is past. Sow seed shallow as light helps improve germination. Allow about 4-6 weeks to produce transplants. This plant prefers a sunny location in a well-prepared soil that is moist, but well-drained. To ensure a continuous supply of fresh leaves it is suggested to make successive sowings about 3 to 4 weeks apart.
Summer Savory is an annual unlike Winter Savory, thus it grows during warm months, then flowers and goes to seed. Begin picking Summer Savory leaves when it is at least 6 inches tall. Continue to harvest Savory throughout the growing season as needed. Cut leafy tops when Savory plants start to show buds. Cut the leaves and shoots from mature stalks only and don’t snip down to the base of each stalk. Leave most of the stalk behind so the Savory plant will continue to grow. The harvesting process of Summer Savory herbs encourages the plant to grow. Use fresh or the leaves can be dried and stored.
Savory Plant Care
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Leafhoppers – Try to identify leafhoppers early because they suck the sap from the plants, leaving them yellow and stunted. Use diatomaceous earth or insecticidal soap to kill them off.
Spider Mites – Spider mites live in clusters on the undersides of growing Savory leaves. They suck the plant’s fluids and can wreak havoc on your garden. Cut any leaves that are infested and throw in the garbage. The best way to get rid of them is to use organic pyrethrum to kill the adults and then keep them away using neem oil.
Aphids – These little bugs can destroy a plant if you let their population grown. The best method to control them is neem oil applied three times with three weeks in between each application. Sometimes it takes a while, so be vigilant and check for aphids throughout the season.
When and How to Harvest Savory?
Harvest Savory plant fresh as needed, both leaves and stems. Collect leaves for drying just before the flower buds open. Winter Savory can be harvested year-round. Then, snip the tops of the branches to extend the harvest.
Use garden scissors or pruners to snip leaves and stems. For dried leaves, cut 6 to 8-inch stems just before flowering. Once your plants reach 6-inches in height, you can begin harvesting material off of them. If you are harvesting leaves for fresh use, you can remove the leaves and stems using sharp, disinfected scissors at any time of year. If you are harvesting Savory for drying, harvest leaves just before the flower buds open to having material with the strongest flavor. When the flowers bloom it decreases the content and quality of essential oils in the leaves.
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