Lovage (Maggi herb)

Lovage is a perennial plant native to southwest Europe. The spicy-smelling umbelliferae also thrives in home gardens and has been valued as a popular medicinal and aromatic plant for centuries. Its digestive, appetizing and diuretic active ingredients are still used as traditional medicines and are becoming increasingly important again. The plant is relatively easy to cultivate and even beginners it is almost impossible to make care mistakes.

The ideal location and the right soil conditions

Maggi herb can be found in almost every herb garden, the requirements for the location and the plant substrate are minimal:

  • Lovage has hardly any problems with constant sun exposure – as long as it is watered regularly and sufficiently.
  • If available, choose light places in partial shade, because this is where the plant thrives best.
  • Very tolerant of the plant substrate – humus-rich, calcareous soils are preferred.
  • Ideal for perennials when the pH of the soil is between 6 and 7.
  • The soil must be permeable and deep – the extent of the root system can be enormous, but does not tolerate waterlogging.
  • Mix the sandy substrate with loam, as this stores certain amounts of moisture.

Cultivation in the field

Cultivation of the Lovage (Maggi herb)

The herb known as Maggi herb should not be missing in any herb or kitchen garden. If the plant is cultivated in a different place every year, the self-intolerance of the umbelliferae must be taken into account. That means nothing else than that lovage cannot be planted in the same bed as before in the following year. It takes about 4 years for the soil to recover from the heavily consuming plants.

  • One plant perfectly covers a family’s year-round needs.
  • The perennial can grow enormously in height and circumference in summer – therefore keep a minimum distance of about 0.5 square meters between the individual plants.
  • Plant inside a herb spiral in the humus-rich wet zone.

Some tips for planting the spice plant correctly:

  • As a heavily draining plant, Maggi herb needs a lot of nutrients – prepare the soil with humus before planting.
  • A rule of thumb is that the planting hole should be about 1/3 larger than the root ball of the plant.
  • The roots are completely sunk into the ground.
  • Top up with a loamy, humus-rich plant substrate.
  • Water abundantly in the first few days – this encourages the perennial to take root quickly.
Tip: Lovage can reach a height of over 2 meters. A useful and extremely versatile privacy screen for your own garden.

If you like to be on the safe side, you can also use the plant in a larger flower pot outdoors. This prevents the Maggi herb from developing uncontrolled growth. The disadvantage here: The roots of the aromatic plant are able to destroy plant vessels in the ground. Therefore, an annual inspection of the lovage must be carried out and the perennial should – as a heavy eater – be cultivated in another location in the following year.

Cultivation as a container plant

Not every hobby gardener has the option of planting Maggi plants in their own garden. But the robust Levisticum officinale – the botanical name of the aromatic herbaceous herb, can also be cultivated in larger plant vessels. Of course, losses in terms of vigor have to be accepted.

  • Choose a large flower pot, preferably made of clay
  • Prepare the plant substrate with clay and humus.
  • Mixed pottery shards or drainage on the bottom of the pot prevent waterlogging.
  • The location on the balcony or terrace should be in partial shade.
  • As heavily draining plants, lovage in pots in particular needs a liquid fertilizer every 14 days. This is administered via the irrigation water.
  • A special fleece is wrapped around the planter in winter. Otherwise, the roots of the perennial will not be adequately protected from the cold in the planter.
  • Replace the soil in spring with new, humus-rich substrate.
  • If necessary, divide the root ball or choose a larger planter.

pour

  • Water sufficiently in the hot summer months – the substrate must not dry out.
  • Use low-calcium rainwater – if available.
  • Regularly mulch the soil – this ensures a permeable soil and prevents waterlogging.

Lovage needs a constantly moist soil. If the dry period is too long, the plant tends to draw the necessary moisture from the shoots and leaves. However, this process has a negative impact on the effect and taste of the Maggi herb.

Fertilize

The spice plant is a heavy consumer and, especially on nutrient-poor soils, the perennial needs a regular and sufficient supply of nutrients.

  • Mulch the soil monthly.
  • Mix large amounts of compost into the substrate in spring and late summer.
  • If necessary, the regular application of conventional liquid fertilizer is sufficient.
  • Feed lovage in pots with fertilizer every two weeks.
Note: Pregnant women should refrain from consuming this plant, because the ingredients are considered to promote labor.

Overwinter

Not every southern European plant can cope with the cold and wet winters of our latitudes without any problems. Lovage, on the other hand, is extremely hardy and the umbelliferous root ball can withstand temperatures down to – 25 ° C for a long time without any problems. It only becomes critical at long-lasting, double-digit minus temperatures without a protective blanket of snow. In this case, a thick layer of brushwood, compost or bark mulch will protect the lovage roots from frostbite. Compost has the advantage of directly supplying the plant with important nutrients in spring.

Multiply

Lovage is versatile, not only in terms of its cultivation in the garden or terrace, but also in its use as a herb and medicinal plant. Only all parts of the plant are used in the kitchen, from seeds to celery-smelling roots. It is therefore all too understandable that the perennial is an indispensable part of today’s herb gardens. Buying it in stores is often idle, as the robust plant can be propagated without much effort by dividing roots or seeds.

Propagation by seeds:

  • Immediately after ripening in September, the seeds are harvested.
  • The same can be sown all year round.
  • Ideally, the germination temperature should be over 20 ° C.
  • Cover the seeds only lightly with humus-rich substrate.
  • Keep moderately moist – if necessary cover the seed pot with a transparent foil.
  • The germination time is 10 – 56 days.
  • As soon as the seedlings have reached a height of about 15 centimeters, the plants should be planted separately in their final location.
  • Remove weaker perennials.

Propagation through root division:

  • The fleshy and strongly scented roots can be severed with a spade or ax.
  • Ideally, this should be done in spring, before the first shoots of the plant or in late autumn before the first frost.
  • Plant the individual parts of the plant immediately as usual.
  • A thick layer of compost and extensive watering in the first few days make it easier for the herbaceous plants to take root and acclimatise.
Tip: Leftover root parts are good as a seasoning for soups and sauces.

To cut

Lovage (Maggi herb) Uses and care

The herbaceous plant is perennial. As is usual with many perennials, the part of the umbellifer that grows above ground dies completely in winter. Lovage sprouts again in spring and can reach enormous heights within a few weeks. For the pruning of the popular aromatic plant you should consider the following:

  • Remove old parts of the plant – if they still exist – completely in late autumn or early spring.
  • Cut off the side shoots with sharp scissors. This promotes the emergence of strong main shoots.
  • If the Maggi herb becomes too high, it can also be cut back here.
  • If the formation of seeds is undesirable, remove the withered flowers immediately.
  • If only the leaves are used in the kitchen, the bud-bearing shoots can be cut back before the flowering period.
  • If a bushy growth is preferred, the shoots should be regularly cut in height.

Uses and care tips

  • The dark green leaves of the herb can be harvested during the entire growing season. When dried and sealed in an airtight bag, the aroma will be retained for several months.
  • The roots of the lovage are not only used to refine soups and gravies. If these are divided, more perennials are obtained and are also popular for exchanging plants among neighbors and friends.
  • Due to the strong growth of the plant, it is very suitable as a privacy screen.
  • The above-ground shoots of the perennial die in autumn. Remove the dead parts of the plant as late as possible, otherwise the plant may tend to sprout sparingly in the following year.
  • Avoid too sandy soils or upgrade with humus and clay. Otherwise there is a risk that large amounts of water will “wash out” the nutrients too quickly.
  • Do not place lovage near berry bushes. The strong aroma of the aromatic plant can be adopted from the berries.
  • Brown and withered leaves are often a sign of a lack of water. Immediately supply the Maggi herb with large amounts of water.

Lovage Diseases and pests

Diseases and pests

Thripse
Fringed winged birds do not even stop at aromatic plants, even if they are relatively seldom found on lovage perennials. The damaged insects feast on the cell sap of young leaves, whereupon the plant reacts with discoloration and, if the damage is too severe, with the death of the leaves and shoots. If the thrips infestation is recognized, countermeasures must be taken immediately to protect the Maggi herb and the neighboring plants from the voracious pests. Commercially available insecticides are controversial because fringed-winged birds can develop resistance to them. The use of natural predators and regular showering of the plant with nettle or garlic stock have proven to be much more effective. The latter must consistently take place over a longer period of time,

Soft bugs
Some types of soft bugs are not picky about their host plant. Accordingly, the blind bugs do not feel bothered by the strong smell of the Maggi herb and feed on the plant juices by stinging and sucking. Reddish discoloration and stunted leaves appear. Countermeasures are difficult because the damage is not immediately visible, and the pests do not live permanently on the same host plant. The use of chemical agents is also difficult, as they are harmful to bees and other pollinating insects due to the active ingredients they contain.

Conclusion
Even after centuries, lovage has lost none of its popularity. The useful perennial is not only used as a spice side dish for rich dishes but is also still used in traditional medicine. The perennial, herbaceous plant is relatively easy to cultivate in your own garden or on the terrace. There are few care errors and the umbellifer will sprout again vigorously in the following year at the latest.

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