Once a common sight on the spice rack, lovage is an undervalued old-fashioned perennial herb. Lovage leaves can be used fresh in salads or stews; their taste is described as a cross between celery and parsley. The leaves and seeds are also dried and ground for use as a spice. Besides its culinary uses, lovage has been used as a medicinal herb to treat kidney stones, breathing problems, allergies, acne, and joint and muscle pain. Trying lovage in the herb garden may be as simple as asking a friend for a lovage plant division. Read on to learn how to divide lovage plants.
Dividing Lovage Plants
Lovage is a perennial herb in zones 3-9. The plants can grow 3-6 feet (.91 to 1.8 m.) tall and may form large colonies as they naturalize in a location. Because of this, many gardeners consider lovage be too large and invasive for the average herb garden. However, splitting lovage herbs every 2-3 years can help keep them and their size under control.
With age, lovage can lose its flavor and potency. Dividing lovage plants helps retain the flavor and herbal properties. While its leaves and seeds are used for seasoning, lovage roots are used for herbal remedies too. All parts of the herb lovage are rich in vitamin C and vitamin B complex, but fresh young roots hold the highest concentrates of the plant’s herbal benefits. Lovage roots can be harvested and divided annually.
How to Divide Lovage Herb Plants
Lovage plants have large, vigorous root systems with long, thick taproots. In late fall or early spring, these roots can be dug up to harvest and divide. In spring, dig up plants before they leaf out. When dividing in fall, cut back any remaining stems.
With a spade, cut a circle around the plant. Then the plant can be gently lifted out with a garden fork. Remove all excess dirt from the roots, and pull them apart. Harvest roots for herbal use, if desired, and then plant the divisions as you would any other plant.
Water divisions thoroughly and regularly for the first few weeks. An initial watering with a rooting fertilizer can help the lovage plant divisions settle into their new location.