Origin: Southeastern Europe
Improvement status: Landrace
Seeds per packet: ~150
Germination tested 12/2020: 61%
Summer Savory is like a mixture of oregano and thyme with a peppery kick. People often exclaim after trying this plant for the first time that they wish they would have known about it earlier! It is an essential component of the classic French culinary mixture known as Herbs de Provence. Romans would use it similarly to how we use black pepper — a little bit with almost everything. This versatile all-purpose herb was also used frequently by some of the earliest European colonizers of the United States.
Leaves can be used fresh or dried, however for best flavor if using fresh you should pick the young tender leaves as they are produced. In fact, it is best to repeatedly cut back the plant to keep it flushing new growth and in a vegetative state. Most often people will want to dry summer savory for use throughout the winter by either cutting sprigs or even by hanging whole plants to dry. As a dry herb, savory retains much of it’s aromatic constituents. It pairs well with rosemary, thyme, sage and is sometimes used as a replacement for any one of those herbs. Savory acts as a flavor intensifier which incorporates well into sausages, meats, fish, stews, egg dishes, stuffings, flavored vinegars, and pulses like peas, beans, and lentils.
Summer Savory has long been used medicinally in a variety of ways including as a digestive aid and antiseptic. It was historically considered an aphrodisiac (try it out and let us know if it helps you out!). Its flavor is due in large part to its high concentrations of both thymol and carvacrol which also lend the herb it’s expectorant and antiseptic properties. When used in steam baths, it can help to open up congested sinuses. A natural insecticide can be made from a decoction by steeping sprigs in water over time.
Quite showy in flower, it finds a place naturalized in the flower garden. Its small mint family flowers also make it an excellent choice as an insectary companion planting as they provide habitat and food for many small beneficials including beneficial native bees, honey bees, and predatory wasps.
From Chris Homanics of Head, Hands, Heart Nursery and Seed in Washington state.
GROWING TIPS: Summer Savory prefers full sun and well-drained soil. Sow for transplant in late March or early April, cover seed ⅛”.