Hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis)
This decorative and long-lasting perennial herb has been widely used since ancient times. The plant grows 2 feet tall and spreads about a foot. The purple-blue flowers are about an inch ¼ inch long and are carried in long, narrow spikes. All parts of the plant give off a strong aroma.
Propagation is from seeds or by cuttings and root division. Sow seeds in spring in a light, dry warm soil. Full sun is preferred, and germination is very rapid. It will do well in a windowbox or other container and makes an attractive border or edging. Stems should be cut back after flowering, and the plant should be cut off at ground level in the fall.
Leaves have a slightly bitter, minty taste. They should be used sparingly in salad. A few leaves can be used in savory dishes such as rich stews and in marinades. Flowers can be used as an attractive garnish and in salads.
Prepared as an infusion, hyssop will soothe colic, improve digestion and eliminate flatulence. It is an excellent nerve tonic, and also helps one to build up strength after an illness. It is recommended for coughs (try combining with other cough remedies) colds, flu, and as a gargle for sore throats.
Prepare a compress from a tincture or a poultice from leaves to treat bruises and rheumatism.
Hyssop is a desirable addition to potpourri.
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