Lovage has long been a favourite in herb and monastery gardens. This aromatic herb grows well in a bed, but it can also be grown in a pot!
Growing lovage (Levisticum officinale) is something that anyone can do. However, it is important to pay attention to a few details, such as the right location, substrate, and care. Read on to find out all of the important lovage growing tips.
When can you plant lovage?
You can start seedlings indoors as early as February and then plant purchased or home-grown young plants outdoors from April onwards. If you prefer direct sowing, the best time to do so is from April or May, depending on the region, or alternatively in August.
If you want to propagate lovage by division, late autumn is the best time to do so. Alternatively, before the first shoots appear in early spring.
The right location for lovage in pots and beds
The ideal location for lovage is a sunny to semi-shady one. Try to avoid a hot location when planting lovage in the garden, on the terrace or balcony, as lovage grows best in a cool environment. When deciding where to plant lovage, keep in mind that it takes several years for the plant to reach its full height. Maintain a minimum of 0.5 m to 1 m between lovage and other plants in the bed. Furthermore, lovage can significantly inhibit the growth of other plants, which is why it is important to plant it with enough space around it.
Before planting, loosen compacted soil in the bed. As lovage is a nutrient-demanding plant, make sure the soil is nutrient-rich and enrich with compost when necessary. Lovage prefers a substrate with a pH value between 6.0 and 7.0. In addition, lovage does not like to have wet roots for a prolonged period – in other words, be sure to avoid waterlogging. Especially in pots, water drainage is not always guaranteed. So, put a layer of expanded clay or gravel in the bottom of the pot to improve drainage; you can also mix these coarser components into the substrate to ensure excellent drainage.
When growing lovage in pots, choose a large container. Typically, the following rule applies: because lovage grows quickly it is best to use a large pot, which also spares you from having to repot your plant too often. Fill the pot with a well-drained, but water-retaining substrate, in order to protect the roots and to be able to meet the plant’s water requirements. Choose a suitable soil, such as our peat-free, nutrient-rich Plantura Organic All Purpose Compost. Mix it with expanded clay fragments or chippings to avoid an overly wet environment.
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The perfect location for lovage:
- Sunny to semi-shady location
- Leave a space of 0.5 – 1 m between plants
- Nutrient-rich substrate
- pH value 6.0 – 7.0
- Well-drained soil
Lovage can be grown in both beds and pots.
Sowing lovage seeds
It is best to sow lovage seeds directly in the bed from April or May – alternatively in August. In addition, young plants can be started in advance from the end of March in a greenhouse or a seed tray on a windowsill and then transplanted outdoors or in a big pot once weather permits.
Tips on how to pre-grow lovage:
- Sow in nutrient-poor soil
- Cover lovage seeds with a little soil or press down lightly
- Keep substrate moist
- Optimal germination conditions at 15 – 20 °C
- The first seedlings can generally be seen after 15- 22 days, but germination can also take longer
- After germination, prick out into plug trays or something similar
- Finally plant outdoors or in a pot
Planting out lovage seedlings
A single perennial will grow very large over time, so you only need a few plants to meet the needs of a family. Due to lovage’s large size, it is important to follow the recommended plant spacing so that the growth of neighbouring plants is not inhibited.
Before planting the lovage seedlings, loosen the soil using a garden fork and enrich with plant-based fertiliser such as our Plantura All Purpose Plant Food or compost. This ensures that the lovage’s nutrient requirements are well met.
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When planting lovage in pots or balcony boxes, fill the pots with a nutrient-rich soil such as our Plantura Organic All Purpose Compost and mix it with 30% expanded clay. Plant the lovage seedling and finally water it to ensure that it grows quickly.
Tip: Young lovage plants growing in pots need protecting during the wintertime. It is sufficient to place the pot in a wind-protected area on an insulating wooden or polystyrene board.
If you want to transplant lovage, do so in autumn or spring. Use this opportunity to propagate it by division. Not only does this have the advantage of having at least two specimens afterwards, it also ensures that the plant’s growth is stimulated by rejuvenation.
As lovage is a medium- to high-yielding plant, it is a good idea to fertilise it right after transplanting. For lovage growing in the garden, we recommend applying a slow-release fertiliser like our Plantura All Purpose Plant Food. This ensures an optimal supply of nutrients for about three months. It also does not contain any animal products.
Tip: Always wear gloves when working with lovage because its sap can cause phototoxic skin irritation when combined with sunlight.
Companion planting with lovage
In general, lovage is a highly competitive herb that inhibits the growth of other plants by consuming a lot of nutrients. This means there are no good neighbours for lovage. As a result, always leave enough space between other plants in the bed, or plant lovage in a pot. Planting lovage in an herb bed is often not a good idea, as it grows large quickly and easily covers smaller, slower-growing herbs. Berry bushes are not good neighbours either, as they can take on lovage’s strong aroma.