Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Celebrating the 2015 Herb of the Year-Savories-Part Six!

I have many herb books on my shelves these days about herbs.  This is one by my friend, Jekka McVicar from Bristol, England  called Herbs for the Home that I use quite frequently when I want to make sure that I have covered all the bases about a specific herb.  So here is Jekka's take on the savories.

Savory is a native of southern Europe and northern Africa and particularly around the Mediterranean region.  It needs well-drained soils to grow.  It has adapted to similar climates all over the world.  Savory has been used as a food flavoring for 2,000 years.  The ancient Egyptians used it in love potions.  The Romans took it to northern European to be used as a disinfecting strewing herb.  It is said to relieve tired eyes, for ringing in the ears, indigestion and wasp and bee stings.

Ways of Propagation

Starting Seeds 

Starting seeds is a good way to propagate both summer and winter savory.  The seeds are tiny and must not be covered because they need light to germinate!  If you are starting them inside, you do not need to use bottom heat.  They will germinate in about 10 to 15 days.  Just harden off the seedlings and wait until all frost is in the past and plant them outside.

Taking Cuttings

The creeping (Satureja spicigera), the purple-flowered (Satureja coerulea) and winter (Satureja montana) can all be grown from softwood cuttings in the spring, using a bark, peat, grit potting soil.  Once they have rooted, they can be planted outside and they are all considered perennial savories.  You may have trouble finding the creeping or the purple-flowered.  That is where having your own herb nursery comes in handy.

Plant Division

Division is another way to propagate savories.  In the spring dig up the plant to be divided and as long as you have a root system with each division, you will be able to grow a new plant.

Because the savories are so aromatic, they are pretty much free from diseases and pests.  However, I must say that my summer savory was attacked by the four-lined plant bug.  Again it was only cosmetic.  The four-lined plant bug does not kill.  It only disfigures and the plant when cut back will grow new leaves.


Spring -- Sow, seed, take cuttings and divide established plants.
Summer -- Keep picking and do not allow summer savory to flower if you want to maintain its flavor. 
Fall --  Protect for Prolonged Frosts
Winter -- Protect

Garden Cultivation

All savories like full sun and a poor (not fertilized) well-drained soil.  Plant summer savory in a warm, sheltered spot in the herb garden and keep picking leaves so it won't become leggy.  Do not fertilize as it will not be as strong a plant.  Use winter savory as an edging plant.  Keep it trimmed so that it keeps its shape through the winter months.

If you can find creeping savory, you need to grow it in a container because it doesn't like the cold, wet winters or clay soils.   If you do want to plant it outside, you should plant it in a rock garden or in a protected well-drained area.


Pick fresh leaves as needed.  If you are drying summer savory, pick before it flowers.  They dry easily.

Container Grown

All savories can be grown in containers and if you have cold, wet winters, you should consider this as your method to succeed in growing them.  If you are picking leaves a lot, a dose of fertilizer may be good to keep the plants going.  So creeping and winter savory should have some kind of winter protection, cool greenhouse or conservatory (Again lucky she owns a nursery.)  I haven't tried to overwinter my savories.  So I will let you know what I do.  If the container cannot be moved cover it with paper or floating row covers.  Keep watering to a minimum.


Summer savory is the one with the most medicinal credits.  It is said to alleviate the pain of bee stings if rubbed on the affected area.  Drinking a tea of savory stimulates the appetite and eases indigestion and flatulence.  It is considered a stimulant and was once used as an aphrodisiac.  Winter savory is inferior as a medicinal herb.


Both summer and winter savories are used in the kitchen.  Both of these savories go well with vegetables or meat.  The flavors are hot and peppery and should not be used to excess in salads.  Summer savory can replace both salt and pepper and is especially helpful to someone on a salt-free diet.  Because of its pungent flavor, it should be used carefully.  Summer savory can easily flavor vinegar or oil.  The advantage of winter savory is that it can provide leaves into early winter.

This is really a wonderful book for both beginner and expert alike.  A great Christmas gift under the tree.  We have the winter gray skies and rain, maybe snow later.  Don't forget to join in my giveaway either by clicking the link above on the right hand side of the home page.  The drawing will be next Tuesday.  Hope you are having a great day wherever you may be.  I'll talk to you later.


FlowerLady Lorraine said...

Savory sounds like a great herb.

I'm enjoying this series.


Linda Goudelock said...

I've not seen this book before! I think I'll add it to my list of books to find. I like to cook with savory

Lemon Verbena Lady said...

It is I think an unused herb FL. Hopefully you will learn something new.

Any of Jekka's books are wonderful. I think you will find it very useful.

Thanks to you both for your comments! xo