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Past Articles Library | Medicinal Plants | What in the World is Hyssop?

Hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis) is a wonderful herb that has a long history of being used to treat medical conditions such as nasal congestion, asthma, and bronchitis.  This plant can also be eaten but  the bitter nature of this herb is an inquired taste.

Beyond the medical use, this herb’s dark green leaves and pink, white, lavender or purple blooms make this perennial shrub a garden favorite.  It is easily propagated through seeds or division in the fall.  To start from seeds, place all-purpose potting soil in a flat or container.  Moisten the soil by either placing in a pan or watering until moisture comes out of the drainage holes.  Once that has occurred, sprinkle seeds on top of the soil and then slightly cover with planting medium.  Water in and place in a location that receives indirect sunlight.

Once the seeds begin to germinate, keep them in the flat until their second set of leaves have formed.  After that has occurred, transplant into larger containers. 

After your local frost-free date has passed, move your plants to the garden space.  Hyssop is a great companion plant for cabbage since it repels cabbage moths.  Also, it works well in rocky areas of the landscape that have a pH between 6 and 7, and those areas that receive the most sunlight.  Prior to planting, add sand to the soil to aid in proper drainage. 

Due to this plant’s growth habit, you will need to plan a space that can hold a plant that can grow two and half feet across and 15 inches tall.  When planting the hyssop, make sure to space them two and half feet apart.  This will allow one to train the plants into a hedge if desired.

While this plant is a perennial, its woody nature will cause you to have to replace it every four years or so.

This plant thrives in USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 3 through 9 but if you do not live in these areas do not give up on hyssop.  While it is very comfortable in the ground, it is just as happy in a container.  The key to this later approach is two-fold.  First, pick a container that has a drainage hole and that is large enough to hold a plant with such a mature size.  Second, prepare a soil that is well draining and combines both sand and all-purpose soil.

Once planted, place the herb in a sunny location in your home.  If this is a problem, supplement the light requirement with a grow light.

Hyssop is an herb that once you grow it for the first time, you will wonder why it took you so long to begin.


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When to Water

If you can, it is always best to water early in the morning. This allows the plant's leaves and flowers to dry off as the day warms up.

If you water at night, the plant stays wet for hours in the cool, which are prime conditions for fungi and other problems to set in.

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