Winter Savory-A Keeper!

Winter Savory spilling over a walkway
Winter Savory spilling over a walkway

Aromatic, culinary, and medicinal. Winter Savory, Satureja montana, was named by the Roman writer Pliny. Derived from the word satyr, the half-man, half-goat creature in mythology who owned the savories. Like its better known cousin, summer savory, winter savory is most often used as a culinary herb, imparting a spicy, peppery flavor to dishes.

The white flowers cover the plant in the fall
The white flowers cover the plant in the fall

Easy to grow, the hardy perennial makes an excellent companion plant for most other herbs. Its aromatic scent repels harmful insects and pests while attracting bees and other pollinators. Winter savory has a stronger, sharper flavor than its summer cousin, but it still blends well with thyme, sage and rosemary as well as most mints.

Winter Savory is great as an edger
Winter Savory is great as an edger

This hardy semi-evergreen bush has branching roots which produce a woody base. The glossy, dark green leaves are about an inch long, opposite, and lance shaped, widening at the tips. The white or lilac flowers are two-lipped with purple spots on the lower lip. The flowers are 1/3 inch long and grow in terminal spikes.

One of my all time favorite herbs for landscaping, I only occasionally use it for cooking. I depend on this plant mostly as a ground hugging bright green plant that blooms in October and November with delicate white tinged with pink blooms. Rarely seen, I always have several plants mounding up and providing a late season show with its white flowers that my bees appreciate when little else is blooming. I have several in both sun and shade and they both do very well, even in deep shade. If our winter is mild, the little mound will stay evergreen, providing a splash of much-needed color in the winter.

Winter Savory's foliage resembles thyme
Winter Savory’s foliage resembles thyme

Perennial and hardy to zone 6, Winter Savory only gets about 10 inches high but can spread up to 3 feet across. The literature says it will grow about a foot wide, but in full sun where it is happiest, it spreads so much that I trim it to reduce its size and use the trimmings to flavor soups. Seek it out at garden centers and don’t be put off by its small size and unimpressive appearance. Winter Savory is a keeper!

One Reply to “Winter Savory-A Keeper!”

Leave a Reply