Hyssop is a medicinal plant that we could define as autochthonous, given that its origins are Mediterranean and have always been found in our territories.
It is a very adaptable species and very simple to cultivate, which in addition to its beneficial properties offers us a very attractive flowering for bees and useful insects. For this, it is certainly worth planting hyssop in our garden.
It is one of those aromatic plants that can enhance poor soils, even those stony and prone to drought. Where other plants would grow stunted, hyssop in fact could fill the space, forming dense, very decorative low bushes.
In this article we describe the hyssop plant in its characteristics and properties of medicinal species, explaining how to grow it organically, inserting it in spaces such as borders or garden beds for mixed herbs, in pots, or even in rock gardens.
The Hyssopus officinalis plant
Hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis) is a perennial herbaceous species that we can find spontaneously in many mountainous areas of northern Italy. It is part of the labiate or Lamiaceae family, in which we also find other more common herbs such as sage, rosemary, basil, and many others.
It has erect stems, very branched and which tend to lignify at the base and reach a maximum size of about 50 cm. The leaves are very small but intensely aromatic and rich in essential oils, so much so that they are in great demand by the perfume and spirits industry.
The hyssop flowers are a very graceful component of the plant: individually they are small but have a beautiful deep blue color and are gathered in numerous apical spikes. The hyssop also has its own aesthetic value, with a prolonged flowering from July to September which is also very popular with bees.
How to plant hyssop
We can plant hyssop plants starting from different starting points:
- The sowing of seedlings in seedbeds, from the beginning of spring, then transplanting the best ones.
- If you buy seedlings from a nursery, you will find Hyssopus officinalis in the garden centers provided.
- By dividing the tufts of specimens already present, multiply them.
- Multiplying a plant through semi-woody cuttings. With the cuttings we can multiply the species, obtaining genetically identical specimens. It involves cutting branches of 5 or 6 cm in length, during the spring, and putting them to root in pots containing soil, and irrigating constantly.
Where to plant
Hyssop is a plant that has been present for a long time in our peninsula and therefore has adapted to various conditions.
It is not particularly demanding towards the characteristics of the soil, and even if it loves calcareous soils, it adapts easily to different terrains.
As for climatic needs, Hyssopus officinalis is quite adaptable, resisting even low temperatures. Its rusticity, therefore, makes it a plant that can be easily grown even by those at the beginning of their gardening or vegetable garden experience.
Before planting an officinal hyssop plant, it is important to deeply loosen the soil and ensure good drainage, by digging or tilling with a boring fork, then hoeing and leveling with a rake.
Organic matter, as always, is necessary to ensure good soil health, and we can then distribute mature compost or manure. However this species is satisfied with modest basic fertilization, it is not necessary to abound.
Cultivation of hyssop
After planting the hyssop seedlings, over time we will have to dedicate some care but not particularly demanding. It is an aromatic species of very simple cultivation, very suitable to be managed with totally organic methods. Among the most important treatments, let’s remember to prune the shrub every year.
How much to water
The hyssop does not want a lot of water: in nature, it is used to growing on sunny and arid soils, and consequently, we must limit ourselves to occasional interventions, especially in the case of the absence of rain.
How to fertilize
At the time of transplanting, it is advisable to ensure the soil has a good presence of an organic substance, using mature compost or manure, and then a few lights topping up every year will be sufficient.
Cleaning from spontaneous grass
Around the plant, we must ensure sufficient cleaning from spontaneous grass, or by hoeing, or manual weeding, or even with mulching.
Prune the hyssop
The hyssop is a perennial species, but the aerial part must be practically renewed every year.
Consequently, in spring the stems are cut at a height of only 10 cm from the ground, with a vigorous pruning that has the purpose of revegetating the plant vigorously.
Biological defense against diseases and parasites
Being a rustic plant, there are rarely problems with diseases or parasitic insects and this makes its organic cultivation even easier.
Grow hyssop on the balcony
As with other aromatic and medicinal plants, the cultivation of hyssop in pots is a valid opportunity for those who do not have a garden or a proper vegetable garden. The important thing is to ensure the plant has good exposure to the sun and quality soil, as well as regular irrigation, especially during hot periods.
The potted hyssop can be used, collected, and dried every year, or even just kept as an ornamental plant.
Collection of leaves and flowers
We can use both the leaves and the flowers of the hyssop. We can harvest the former at any time of the year, while the latter must be harvested as soon as they hatch, and have an excellent content of essential oils.
Both parts of the plant can be dried and used for the preparation of fragrant potpourri.
Hyssop also has a use as an aromatic herb, being edible. When they are still small and tender, the leaves can enter mixed salads, which the flowers themselves can help decorate and enrich.
Medicinal properties of hyssop
The hyssop plant is considered an officinal species due to its precious content of essential oils, flavonoids, tannins, and other substances that determine positive properties for the body that can be used in phytotherapy.
In particular, it is a balsamic and expectorant plant, the hyssop has attributed the ability to combat asthma, bronchitis, cough, and other problems of the respiratory tract. The presence of essential oil gives this plant digestive properties.
You may be interested to read about the Echinacea blogpost/ Marigold cultivation blogpost/ Chervil and its cultivation blogpost/ Plant asparagus legs blogpost/ Borage cultivation blogpost/ Grow dill blogpost/ Wild garlic blogpost/ Tarragon Estragon (garden spices) blogpost/ Grow garden cress blogpost/ Growing turmeric blogpost/ Aloysia citrodora: cultivation/ Dried meat recipe.