Summer Savory is an asset to any herb garden. Primarily used as an ornamental plant, culinary spice, and natural medicine, its white, lilac, and pink flowers can easily enhance the aesthetic beauty of a cottage garden, patio, backyard, or flower bed. Growing Summer Savory is relatively easy and doesn’t have any health-related problems. It makes an excellent companion plant for your vegetables as it assists in their growth by attracting beneficial insects, repelling pests, and providing shade, nutrients, and support.
What Is Summer Savory?
A part of the mint family, Summer Savory (Satureja Hortensis) is best known of the savory genus and is a fast-growing annual plant. Let us see the basic features of this beloved herb:
1. Origin & Usage
The Greeks and Romans historically used this low-growing shrub of Mediterranean origin in their food and medicines almost 2000 years ago.
2. Growing Season
It is a single-growth summer plant that lasts only one season. Its flowers bloom from July to September.
This low-growing bushy plant has narrow, leathery leaves and thin stems that tend to form a mound. The plant changes from a gray-green colored shrub to a striking bronze-purple mound-like shape by late summer.
Benefits Of Summer Savory?
The Summer Savory plant has many health benefits apart from enhancing the taste of cuisines. Let us see how:
- The thymol present in Summer Savory kills fungus and bacteria. Therefore, it relieves various health issues such as muscle spasms, intestinal cramps, or sore throat.
- This herb promotes a healthy digestive system and reduces flatulence.
- It also helps in digestive problems like diarrhea, gastroenteritis, and even colic.
- Its antiseptic and anti-inflammatory property helps in treating skin irritations caused by bee stings and other insect bites.
- Its Vitamin C content protects the body naturally against viruses and other free radicals.
- Some ointments containing the savory plant can relieve joint pain caused by arthritis.
- Ancient Romans used it as a natural aphrodisiac.
- A rich source of antioxidants, Savoury plant consumption reduces cell damage, lowers cholesterol, and prevents heart disease and cancer.
Types of Savory
Winter and summer savory are the most commonly found varieties in the United States, though there are close to 30 types of savory. While similar in appearance and flavor, winter and summer savory are grown differently.
1. Summer Savory
Summer Savory is an annual heat-loving herb that cannot thrive in cold weather. It is therefore grown in hardiness zones 1 through 11.
2. Winter Savory
Satureja Montana, also known as ‘mountain savory,’ is a perennial herb, living through multiple seasons. Leaves of the plant have darker shades of green than summer savory with a more robust and bitter flavor. The winter savory can survive the extreme summers and the coldest winters, suitable for hardiness zones 5 through 11.
How to Plant Summer Savory?
Summer Savory grows from seeds planted directly in an outdoor herb garden or started indoors in containers. We suggest indoor planting as it is not dependent on the outside temperatures. Here are some tips for growing a Summer Savory:
1. Best Location
Summer Savory needs direct full sunlight. Light helps seeds germinate. Placing the indoor container near a window with southern light will speed up germination. Sow seeds and cover them with a sprinkle of soil to provide a shallow cover. In colder months, use Grow Lights to supplement the heat from sunlight.
2. Soil Preparation
Summer savory prefers rich, loamy, and alkaline soil that is moist but not wet.
3. Planting Seeds Indoors
New Summer Savory seeds can be planted indoors 6 to 8 weeks before the frost. Germination takes two to three weeks to occur.
Choose medium-sized clay or plastic pots for planting. In larger pots, multiple plants can be grown together.
5. Transplanting To The Garden
Transfer the seedlings outdoors after the last frost in spring.
6. Outdoor Planting Duration
Start the outdoors sowing in spring around the time of the last frost date.
7. Planting Depth
Sow to a depth of ¼ inch.
Keep about 12 to 18 inches of space between the plants.
Summer savory benefits from deep watering each week during summer, especially while setting the plant.
10. Using Fertilizer
In general, fertilizer is not needed. However, a small amount of all-purpose fertilizer will help in growing.
11. How Much to Plant
Grow about two to four plants of both savory varieties if used for cooking, and six to eight plants of each type if planning to preserve for the future.
12. Companion Planting
Summer savory is a good companion for vegetables like Onions, beans, and tomatoes. You can grow winter savory with other perennials like sage, lavender, and hyssop.
How to Grow Summer Savory?
Indoors or outdoors, growing Summer Savory from seed is easy. Here are some of the handy tips that can be followed:
1. Sowing Seeds Directly
Sow 1-2 seeds per inch directly into the ground in a shallow position. The soil should be kept moist until germination. Water the young seedlings well.
2. Growing From Cuttings
It is easy to propagate savory from cuttings if you want to offer some to friends. Select a cutting of 5 inches long and remove all leaves from the bottom half. Put this into a glass of water and wait till new roots are formed. Once the roots of the plants grow up to 2 inches, you can transfer them.
Water regularly until the young plants are established. After that, you may keep them on the dry side.
4. Light Exposure
With increasing day lengths and more sun exposure, seedlings will grow more rapidly.
5. Ideal Temperatures
Summer Savory needs 86°F (30°C) during the day and 68°F (20°C) at night.
6. Transplanting Seedlings
Seedlings with four true leaves are ready for individual containers—transplant outdoors with an 8″ inch gap between the plants.
Savory plants do not need extra feed. At best, consider a mid-season feed of aged compost.
Keep a thick mulch of dried or chopped leaves or straw to protect winter savory from freezing temperatures. Remove it in spring. Grow summer savory indoors in winter.
Caring Tips for Summer Savory
- Avoid deep watering of established Savory plants. The plant prefers the growing media to be on the dry side.
- Ensure full sunlight is available for 8 to 10 hours each day.
- If plants begin to become thin, it means that they need more sun exposure.
- Trim main stems regularly to encourage new growth.
- Avoid unnecessary fertilization.
- Summer savory grows very fast, becoming top-heavy, which may require staking.
- Cut off the top stems for renewed use from established plants of 6-inches or more.
- Summer savory plants should be harvested before flowering. The taste and nutrition value decreases when the flowers bloom.
How to Store Savory
The leaves of Summer Savory can be stored after drying them in a cool, shady place. You can also air dry them in a hanging mesh bag or freeze-dry in the refrigerator on a paper towel-lined tray. Stores dried leaves in air-tight containers or a jar with vinegar.
Ways to Use Savory in Cooking
Summer Savory has a peppery taste and is comparatively less bitter than its winter counterpart. Here are some ways of cooking savory:
- It is mainly used in meat recipes with oil, butter, and vinegar infusions, for a sweet and delicate flavor.
- Use vinegar seasoned with Summer Savory as a marinade base for all types of meats. Chopped fresh savory perks up steamed or roasted vegetables, and it also blends nicely with sour cream to create a delicious dip.
- Fresh leaves make a great addition to soups, stews, lentils, cabbage, or potato dishes.
- It can also be used to coat goat cheese or blended with soft cheeses and butter.
- The Romans used it as a replacement for pepper or salt.
- In Bulgaria, the herb is mixed with a bowl of salt and ground paprika. This herb mix makes a table condiment called sharena sol, which translates to “colorful salt.”
Precautions and Warnings
1. During Pregnancy And For Nursing Mothers
It is better to avoid eating Summer savory during pregnancy or breastfeeding as there isn’t sufficient reliable information to suggest if it is safe.
2. Before Surgery
This herb might slow blood clotting; so, stop using summer savory at least two weeks before a scheduled surgery.
3. Possibility of Skin Irritation
The concentrated, undiluted oil derived from the Summer Savory leaves might be unsafe and cause skin irritation. So, it should not be used.
Interactions of Summer Savory with Medications
Summer Savory is primarily used in medications that slow blood clotting (Anticoagulant / Antiplatelet drugs). Be cautious and talk with your doctor before using the herb, especially if you already take slow blood clotting medication. The appropriate dose of summer savory depends on the user’s health, age, and other associated conditions. It is important to remember that natural products are not always necessarily safe, and taking the correct dosage is crucial. Follow directions on product labels and consult your pharmacist or physician before consumption.
Summer Savory might not be very popular as some of the more commonly used herbs with homeowners; nonetheless, it makes a great addition to your indoor herb garden.