A pretty plant, hyssop is a perennial with dark, narrow leaves and spikes of flowers in late summer. The usual color is blue but both pink and white varieties are available.
The semi-evergreen leaves of hyssop have been used as a medicine since Old Testament times and hyssop tea is sometimes recommended to relieve bronchitis and catarrh.
These days it is the culinary value of the leaves which is more important. The flavor is strong and is usually described as sage-minty, licorice-minty or bittery-minty. Hyssop's bitter, slightly minty flavor that brightens salads, pork, chicken soup, marinades, fruit soups, and sage stuffing. Both its leaves and flowers are edible, but they should not be used together because the flavor of the leaves overpowers that of the flowers.
Bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds love this plant, and this alone makes it a valuable addition to the herb garden.
Cultivation of Hyssop
Site: Hyssop likes a sunny place with light, well drained, alkaline soil.
Propagation: "Hyssop" is very easy to grow. They can be started from seed or dividing older plants. Once danger of frost has passed, seeds can be planted 12" apart. Germination is very rapid.
Growing: Transplant or thin to 2 feet apart or to one foot apart for hedge. Once established they require very little care other than pruning. Hyssop does well in a windowbox or other container and makes an attractive border or edging.
Harvesting: As with many herbs, harvest the pick flowers and young flowering top as flowering begins. Gather leaves anytime. The plant should be cut off at 8 inches in the fall. Hang bunches upside down to dry in a warm, dark area. Once dried chop leaves and store in an airtight container.
Culinary Uses: The flowers can be used in tossed salads. Hyssop's bitter, slightly minty flavor brightens salads, pork, chicken soup, marinades, fruit soups, and sage stuffing. Both its leaves and flowers are edible, but they should not be used together because the flavor of the leaves overpowers that of the flowers.