Lovage tastes like a cross between parsley and celery, but it can grow to over 8 feet tall!
Lovage is a perennial herbaceous plant that requires very little care. Stronger tasting than either celery or parsley, a little goes a long way, but all parts of the lovage plant make an excellent addition to soups, salads, casseroles, and stews, and the minced leaves take pasta and potatoes to new heights. Lovage seeds and stems are also used in candy-making.
The lovage plant
Even though lovage looks and smells more like celery, it is actually a member of the carrot, or umbellifer family. While lovage plants can grow more than 8 feet tall, more often, they grow 3 to 6 feet tall and 2 or 3 feet wide. Small yellow flowers grow in umbrella-shaped umbels. Seeds are one-half an inch long. Lovage is native to eastern Europe
How to grow lovage
You can start lovage seeds indoors, 4 to 6 weeks before the last frost date, or outside any time the soil has warmed to at least 60°F. Plant seeds 1/4 inch deep and keep the soil moist until seedlings are several inches tall.
Lovage grows best in full sun to partial shade and it needs soil with plenty of organic matter. You can help your lovage plant thrive by top dressing the planting area ahead of time with aged compost. As the growing season nears the end, you can allow flowers to produce seeds for future crops. In cold regions, the root is dug up and stored where it will be protected from freezing until the next spring.
Lovage has very few pest or disease problems. Leaf miners can cause cosmetic damage, but that’s about it. Because of its rugged demeanor and its celery-like flavor, lovage is an excellent addition to any California foodscape.
You can grow a surprising amount of food in your own yard. Ask me how!