How to Grow Summer Savory

This annual herb is a great alternative for sage

Summer savory herb plant with narrow green leaves closeup

The Spruce / K. Dave

Summer savory is an annual herb that is part of the mint family. It's sometimes used as a substitute, or in conjunction with rosemary, thyme, or sage. With a peppery flavoring, it's less bitter than its winter savory relative.

The herb is a low-growing shrub with narrow green leaves. During the summer, flowers appear on the plant which can be white, lilac, or pink. Because summer savory is a fast-growing annual plant, it only grows through the summer months. Plant summer savory seeds in the spring.

Botanical Name Satureja hortensis
Common Name Summer savory
Plant Type Annual herb
Mature Size 12-24 in. tall
Sun Exposure Full sun
Soil Type Loamy
Soil pH 6.6-7.5
Bloom Time Summer
Flower Color Pink, lilac, or white
Hardiness Zones 1-11 (USDA)
Native Area Eastern Mediterranean, the Caucasus

Summer Savory Care

An easy-to-grow plant, summer savory is a perfect starter herb if you live in a temperate climate.

It can be sown directly into the garden soil in the spring, or germinated from pots set up in late winter. Summer savory doesn't need too much water or extra feeding. The plant thrives in a rich, easy-to-drain soil and needs plenty of sun.

You can harvest it throughout the summer, but the leaves are at their most flavorsome just prior to the plant flowering. Once the plant has started to flower, much of the aroma and flavor will be lost. Ideally, the stems should be around 6 to 8 inches before harvesting, and they can be used fresh or dried.

Summer savory herb planted in small round blue pot from above

The Spruce / K. Dave

Summer savory herb with narrow green leaves in sunlight

The Spruce / K. Dave

Summer savory herb stem with narrow green leaves and tiny white flowers closeup

The Spruce / K. Dave

Summer savory herb stems lying in a stack on white surface

The Spruce / K. Dave

Light

Having come originally from the Mediterranean, it shouldn't come as a surprise that summer savory needs bright conditions to thrive. Choosing a position with a lot of direct full sun will be needed. If you are using a container indoors, select a window with southern light.

Soil

Summer savory isn't very fussy when it comes to soil type. Ideally, though, you want a rich, loamy, alkaline soil. It needs to be well-draining, as the plant doesn't do well in waterlogged soil.

Water

Summer savory benefits from regular watering, especially while you are establishing the plant. The soil should only be kept moist, though, rather than wet. Once it's well established, it won't be a problem if the soil is on the drier side, although daily watering when temperatures are high will still be beneficial.

Temperature and Humidity

To thrive, summer savory benefits from temperatures between 60 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit. When sowing the seeds outdoors, wait until the end of the frost in the springtime. Originally found along the Eastern Mediterranean, summer savory grows best in warmer climates.

Fertilizer

You shouldn't need to use fertilizer for your summer savory to flourish. If you do want to use some, a small amount of all-purpose type will work fine as the plant is growing.

Pruning

Summer savory has simple pruning needs: You can pick leaves while the plants are still small (4- to 6-inches tall), and then pinch back the stems to right before the first leaf node to encourage growth.

Propagating Summer Savory

Although summer savory can reseed itself in a garden setting, they are also easy to propagate from cuttings if you want to offer some to friends or move them to a new location.

Select a cutting that is around 4- to 5-inches long and make sure that the bottom half has all the leaves removed. Pop this into a glass of water and wait for new roots to form. Once these are around 2-inches long, they will be ready to be transferred. Plant the rooted summer savory cutting into containers with well-draining, loamy soil. The soil should be moist, but not overly so.

How to Grow Summer Savory From Seed

Summer savory seeds, generally planted in spring, grow best in a loamy soil. If you plan to grow these seeds in your garden, you should wait until late spring when a hard frost is less likely. You may have to order the seeds online, rather than purchasing them at a garden center.

Seeds can be potted up in late winter if you plan to start the process indoors. Just wait until April before you then move them outside. The seeds only need a light covering of soil, and they usually start to germinate within two weeks.

Once the seedlings reach a couple of inches in height, you'll want to thin them out. This will ensure that the herb develops a dense growth as it should. The seeds shouldn't be covered, and they need a lot of direct sunlight to do well.

Potting and Repotting Summer Savory

Summer savory can thrive in window-box containers indoors. This is actually the recommended method if you live somewhere that can have a flash of cold weather even in the summer months.

Rooted cuttings can be potted up, and it will allow you to have a fresh supply of the herb through the winter. Select a container that is at least 6-inches wide and deep and offers good drainage. Making sure you trim back the branches will help to produce healthy and bushy growth.