Last updated on April 28th, 2020
I probably love lovage as much as the ancient Greeks and Romans did. Are you familiar with this Levisticum officinale? To me, the herb tastes like celery on steriods. It grows like a doping athlete, too — up to 9 feet tall if left unchecked. Fortunately, its culinary possibilities are unlimited. Have a look:
Although some in-the-know chefs like to add lovage leaves to a mixed salad, I find the crisp leaves make a marvelous salad all by themselves. And since lovage flowers late in the season, you can enjoy the raw foliage long after arugula, spinach, romain and other lettuces have bolted and become bitter.
The fat, pale-green stalks are delightful too. When I make this succulent Duck Breasts Mirepoix, I often use lovage as a superior, highly-aromatic substitute for regular celery.
And please note: Because the herb’s young stalks are hollow, you can use them for drinking-straws! Trust me — you haven’t lived until you’ve sipped a Bloody Mary through a lovage-stem.
If you live in USDA zones 4-8, lovage will prove perennial for you. Give it full sun, well-draining soil, and one inch of water per week. The plant flourishes in my own, Hudson Valley, NY garden (zone 5-b) from mid-April all the way through late September.
Have I convinced you to add this great herb to your collection of garden edibles? I certainly hope so. You won’t find it at your farmers’ market, let alone your grocery store. Consequently, if you want lovage — you’ll simply have to grow it yourself. The plant is rich in Vitamin C.
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Great post, Kevin. I'm definitely going to buy lovage.
I love lovage too! My plant is in its third year, and nearing 6 feet tall. I would never have thought to use its stems like straws.
And by the way, that bloody mary looks tempting!
Kevin Lee Jacobs says
Adele – you won't regret adding lovage to your garden. I promise.
Anonymous – That bloody mary was bloody delicious. To celebrate the cocktail hour, I'm making another one later this afternoon.
I've always wondered what the heck to do with lovage…and now I know. How much space does it like, width-wise? And do critters like to munch on it? (Just thinking about which bed I'd put it in.) Thanks, Kevin!
Kevin Lee Jacobs says
Tammy – Nice to hear from you! I think lovage is too pungent to be of interest to critters. My 2-year-old plant is 3 feet tall, and about 2 feet wide. But it gets smaller all the time — since I keep cutting stalks to eat!
Helga Maria says
We have used lovage for as long as I can remember – in Austria and in Transylvania where I was born. However, I have learned a few new uses from you – thank you!
I usually dry mine on the stalks, then pick the leaves and store them in a dark glass. A handful of dried leaves crumbled over a pot of vegetable
soup – great.
I am so glad I found your website!
Kevin Lee Jacobs says
Helga Maria – welcome! And thanks for the drying tip — I will do this in the fall.
I had no idea. This looks like what my mom used in her cooking as a Greek cook. I did not know what it was called.
I have an herb nursery in east Tennessee. One of my customers told me years ago that lovage is great to use when making tomato sauce, and he was right. It is also a great attractor of beneficial insects, and is often nearly smothered with them when in bloom. I just discovered your blog today and am enjoying it very much.~ Christy
Kevin Lee Jacobs says
Despina – I'll wager it was indeed lovage. Very common in Mediterranean cooking.
Christy – Welcome to A Garden for the House. You've taught me two great things today: first, that I should stop snipping the flower buds off my lovage; and next, that I absolutely must add diced lovage leaves and stalks to the tomato sauce I make in the fall. “See” you again soon, I hope!
Sandra Geurts says
In the Netherlands it is known as the “Maggi-plant”. Because it tastes simular to the Maggi boullion cube and sauce. Which is used for seasoning soups and broths etc.
I use the lovage in any soup, stew or pasta dish.
I harvest mine by cutting it in bits and freeze it. I also do that with my parsely. Put it in a resealable bag. And take out whenever you need.
The plant can get 6 foot tall? Bloody hell. It is in a pot on my window sill at the moment. I’m looking forward to when I can plant it in my new garden.
About 10 years ago, a friend gifted me with a whole slew of plants for the yard and there was this beautiful plant that grew sooo tall & smelled so delicious when leaf or stem was broken. I just let it grow for a few years, never knowing what it was, and eventually started taking bites of it here & there, and then using it in cooking, still not knowing what it actually was.
About 3 or 4 years ago, I finally got a positive ID online, FINALLY.. its the beautiful & humble Lovage.. I do indeed ♥ it.
Mine has never spread, neither by seed or any other way. Its on the west side of my house in NE Ohio and only gets noon to evening sun & is completely happy. Ants love the flower & I let them have at it.. It keeps them out of my house. 😉
I juice on a daily basis, I wonder how this will be for juicing?
Is the lovage seed available in the stores? Or where do you recommend to buy seeds?
Thank you for this wonderful article. So excited to grow it.
Lovage was on our property (230 year old cape) when we moved here 17 years ago. The flowers attract so many beneficial insects, and the seed heads are adored by the wild canaries (goldfinches), so I always let the remaining seeds fall to the ground for a new crop next year. I’ve never used it in cooking, but feel inspired to add it to some soups, salads, and sauces now. It’s certainly prolific here in south central NH!
Jessica, if you’d like some seeds, I’ll be happy to send you some. Just email me.
Diane, can one get seed from a seed company? I would really like to try growing some. I live in southern Ontario…..not sure what zone I’m in but would love to try it. Any suggestions on where I might find seed.
Diane, your name doesn’t link to anything. I would love some lovage seeds. So nice of you.
My email is [email protected]. Please put in subject lovage seeds, so I don’t delete it.
Ingmarie E Peck says
Thanks Kevin ,I never heard of lovage. Looks like something we would enjoy. I will try this, but where do I find it ?
Lisa Gilbertsen says
Thank you so much for this post!! I planted lovage seeds that I got through a “seeds of the month” club, but had never heard of it before. The plants are about 3′ tall and hanging out in my greenhouse here in the Florida Panhandle. I have added the leaves to my taboullah, but now I have more ideas for it!!
Thanks, Kevin. Do you know where to obtain the seeds?
I have been growing lavage for years. It’s my 3rd garden in the last 20 years and I had it in all three of them. We are living now in Maine and our nearest little town in 17 miles away. I love my lavage because I often use it instead of the celery when I run out of it and driving to town just for that would be crazy. It’s much more potent then celery so you need to experiment how much to put into your stew or soup. I do munch on it when I work in the garden and don’t feel like going to the house to get some water. Last summer it was taller then I. I guess it was about 6′. Shared it with some friends. It’s easy to cut off the outside of the clamp in spring. See lots of pollinators on it so I don’t cut off the flowers. I also stopped cutting off the flowers from my basil. Bees just love them and they can use all the help we can give them.
I love this herb and love to use it with bloody marys! Good stuff!
Looks so exciting. I’ve been missing you! I’m ba- a- a- ck great fully.
Thanks too to db for her seed offer!
I grow it too, one of my favorites and given many starts away; easy to split the roots. I dry some and grind it up in my herb grinder to use for soups, stews and such. My husband (at 92)
doesn’t eat celery so I sneak it in this way as substitute for the extra flavor I love.
Have had it in my garden for years and rarely use it – thanks for the ideas…bought it mostly for flower essences. 🙂
Yes in Germany it also called, Maggie plant, my friend grows it her on LI, I love it , especially in Chicken soup.
Pam Ziarnik says
Diane, could you send me some lovage seeds? I just read Kevin’s article on it and would love to add it to my garden. I will be happy to pay for postage!
I have one in my greenhouse that is three years old! It’s like my best friend! So glad to know I can dry the leaves! Thanks for this article!
See? This is why I love, love, love reading your posts! I love celery, but my little side-by-side refrigerator freezes every bunch no matter how I protect it, so I think lovage will make a good substitute. Thank you for your ever useful advice on growing and cooking.
Deb Stover says
Definitely going in my garden. Thanks for the tip. It sounds wonderful!
linda faatz says
Oh my, Lovage the favored herb in my garden. Besides all the other benefits the hollow stems are the way I encouraged my grand children to enjoy tomato juice. Love that is is perennial.
Kevin, the lovage we find and grow here has feathery lightly gray on the underside, leaves and is so potent, just one small leaf cut up in a salad is powerful. Am I, and my fellow community gardeners wrong about what we think lovage is??
Wowza! My husband does the bulk of the gardening, but I’m going to send him your article and hope that he’s as excited as I am! I love that it can be a perennial–it will be great to have something else coming up by itself every year like our chives and rhubarb do. Thanks, Kevin!
YUP! You did it again. Now I need to expand my herb garden! LOL I mean, OMG… how ‘tacky’ is it to serve your morning BLoody Mary with a pice of “plastic” in it… oooooh no nono no… I MUST have a lovage straw for mine from now on! THANKS KEVIN! lol
Margaret Lauterbach says
I have Lovage, but don’t use it for flavoring since I prefer cutting celery. Lovage flavor is strong, leaves leathery, but you redeemed the plant, Kevin, by the suggestion of using the stems as straws. Wow. What a great idea!
patricia skinner says
I have never considered Lovage. I am now going to add it to my garden this year.
Nancy Fopeano says
I’m a Lovage fan, too, and especially enjoy it in potato salad. Another old-fashioned favorite of mine is Skirret, Have you tried it?
Another great post, Kevin! I love herbs and have an herb garden. I can tell you that I will find a source for seeds and get them going! I’m so excited! Thank you, thank you!
Elaine r says
I’ve used it in cooking but never thought of salads. Here’s another use I learned from a friend. Harvest the seed and putthem in a pepper grinder with peppercorns to make celery pepper.
Incidentally, I am in Canadian zone 3 and it is hardy here. Fenced from deer so don’t know how resistant, but a pocket gopher sure decimated it about two years ago. I am slowly building my patch up again. At least in this climate iris a moderate spreader.
Judy G. says
I love LOVAGE!!!!
Here’s one of the ways I use it…
Make a pouch out of tin foil.
Chop about a cup of lovage leaves and a few cloves of garlic.
Toss this with some new or cut up potatoes.
Add a healthy pinch of rock salt and some black pepper.
Add a chunk of butter and slosh of olive oil.
Seal Pouch and either toss it on the bbq or into a 350 degree oven and let it roast.
The dreamiest potatoes ever and hardly any work at all.
I’ve had a lovage plant for many years in a pot outside and it never disappoints and comes back every year. It is only a couple of feet high, if that, so perhaps it is stunted being in a pot. I am quite happy with this size rather than 6 feet!
I am excited to try this in my herb garden. Did you start yours from seed? Or did you buy a plant from a catalogue, one that you would recommend?
Samantha Gray says
I’ve seen this at our local garden centers and wondered about it. Now I’ll have to grow some. Thanks for the article.
My chicken salad is to die for. Chopped up fresh lovage is the secret. I also make small bunches and give to friends all summer. They hang the bunch anywhere in their kitchen and use as it dries or after it dries. I’ve had it for years and share a clump of the plant with roots with anyone who asks. I couldn’t cook with my two favorite herbs – lovage and winter savory.
Oops. I meant that I couldn’t cook WITHOUT my two favorite herbs. : )
I AM A TRANSPLANT FROM CT TO THE SOUTHWEST COAST OF FL. I LOVE LILACS, HEATHER, AND LAVENDER. IS THERE ANY WAY I CAN GROW THESE PROPERLY IN
9 – 10 ZONE? I HAVE TRIED SEVERAL TIME AND NOTHING SURVIVES. THANK YOU, CAROL
Kevin Lee Jacobs says
Hi Judy G – Your potato/lovage combination sounds awesome. Will try.
Hi Anne – Chicken salad with lovage: divine!
Hi Carol – I don’t know if lilacs and heather will grow in Florida. But you should be able to grow lavender. My best advice? Contact your local cooperative extension. The master gardeners there will know what varieties are suitable for your area. (Just Google the name of your town plus “cooperative extension” for phone number/contact information.) Best of luck to you!
Hi Kevin-I’ve had an herb garden for over 20 years and have never grown lovage. Now I will definitely seek out the seeds and grow it! Thanks to everyone for the great recipes. The potato one from Judy G sounds especially good.
What a great idea! I have been trying to get my 8 year old to try tomato juice or V-8. She loves the garden, and if she can pick it herself, she will eat it! I would love to grow lovage snd use the stems for her!
Is lovage hard to contain?
Diane Hoik says
Many have emailed me for the seeds I offered in the summer of 2012. Unfortunately at this time of the year, I don’t have seeds. I’m not a seed dealer of any kind – just a homeowner who happens to have very aggressive lovage! Try me again in the summer as any seeds I have now have overwintered outside and may or may not germinate.
Mary in Iowa says
I have a milk jug with lovage seeds that was winter-sown at the end of December. Opening the packet of seeds with the aromatic fragrance pouring from the packet was delightfully euphoric. Hoping it will be successful with the winter sowing method. Have never grown it before this, but am considering it for a hedge at the north end of the garden. That potato recipe is going to be a must. My only lovage reference until your mention of it occasionally was when my 38 year old son was in high school and was cast in a community theatre play titled, “Lettice and Lovage”. 🙂