How to Grow Sorrel

Start to grow an edible sorrel variety in your garden to enjoy supply of tangy flavorful leaves for years to come!

Sorrel at glance

  • Latin name – Rumex 
  • Perennial
  • Easy to grow 
  • Likes sun to partial shade 
  • Propagation –  by seeds and plant division
  • Days to maturity when planted from seed – 60 days
  • Uses: young leaves used in soups, sauces, and salads (check out sorrel recipe here).

Best edible sorrel to grow in your garden

Three edible sorrel species that you most likely would want to grow are  Rumex acetosa – garden sorrel, Rumex scutatus – French sorrel, and Rumex sanguineus – red veined sorrel.

how to grow sorrel - gardening - easy plants to grow

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Garden (or common) sorrel  has long – up to 6″, arrow-shaped leaves, that are best consumed cooked in soups or sauces served with fish or pork. 

The leaves of French sorrel are smaller, more bell-shaped, and less acidic in comparison with garden sorrel. They can be used raw for salads

If you want a splash of color in your salad – plant red-veined sorrel. It also has milder taste in comparison with common sorrel.

 

Ways to grow sorrel

You can sow sorrel seeds in open ground, transplant it from seedlings started indoors, or by dividing an established sorrel plant.

Sorrel can grow outdoors, indoors on your windowsill, or in a pot on your patio. If you decide to grow sorrel  in a pot – you will need to water it frequently, and preferably keep it in partial shade in summer time.

Sorrel plant is a perennial plant that grows in clumps and with time tends to overrun your garden if you let it self seed. That is why it is better to have a dedicated place for sorrel with some kind of barrier to stop its spreading. I got four stone curved scalloped edging sections from Lowe’s and made from them a perfect round bed just for sorrel.

Gardening Tip

Sorrel plants  reach peak production in the second and third year after planting from seeds. After that yield starts to dwindle. After you have a plant for 5 years, it is better to start over by sowing seeds.

But if you  have a dedicated place for sorrel in your garden and let it  reseed itself –  then each year you will be able to dig out the older clumps and allow the young ones to take over. This way you will have a steady supply of sorrel leaves for all your cooking needs for years to come.

 

When to sow sorrel seeds

Sorrel seeds can be sown in open ground in spring, summer and late autumn.

Spring planting is preferable, because you will be able to harvest sorrel the same year. Also soil in spring has a lot of moisture which sorrel likes.The seeds can be sown 2-3 weeks before last frost date for your zone.

If you plant sorrel in summer, most likely you will start to harvest it steadily next year. Also, summer planting will require more care – you will need to water sorrel frequently.

Gardening Tip

Planting sorrel on the edge of a raspberry patch will restrain the spread of raspberry bushes in the garden. 

If you sow sorrel seeds  in fall– it is better do it at the beginning of November to insure that the seeds will not sprout till spring, otherwise frost will kill them.

If you want to start grow sorrel indoors and transplant the seedling later – do it 6 -7 weeks before last frost. It takes time for sorrel seeds to germinate. But because sorrel seeds can be planted in open ground 2-3 weeks before average last frost date in spring, I would advice to sow seeds directly outdoors.

 

Spacing

 

You can plant sorrel seeds 2-3″ apart (which will be hard to achieve, because sorrel seeds are so tiny smile). Plant them in rows, with 1 foot distance between the rows.

When sprouts emerge – thin the seedlings leaving 2″ between them, then in a couple weeks thin sorrel again – this time leaving 1 foot between plants.

Sow sorrel  seeds  1/2” deep in spring and autumn.  If you sow sorrel seeds in summer – plant them 3/4″ deep. Seeds planted in spring and summer time should be watered right after sowing, seeds planted in autumn should be left dry.

Where to buy sorrel seeds

I grew my sorrel using seeds from Ukraine.

I could not find sorrel seeds in Home Depot, Lowe’s, or grocery store seeds racks. But you can order them from seed catalogs or buy from Amazon.  You can get French sorrel seeds to plant for salads. If you want garden sorrel – Amazon carries organic sorrel seeds from Ukraine. If you would rather prefer U.S. garden sorrel seeds – try  Green de Belleville variety. David’s garden seeds offers non GMO red veined sorrel seeds

How to care for a sorrel plant

Sorrel is not a demanding plant. It tolerates cold well and is easy to grow when it gets established.

Sorrel likes sun to partial shade. It will grow well in soil rich with organic matter that is lightly acidic.

Sorrel requires frequent watering in summer. Water sorrel close to the roots to avoid mold development.  And do not forget to keep beds free from weeds.

When the stalks that develop flowers and seeds appear in July, they should be cut back, unless you want to gather your own sorrel seeds. When you let stalks grow, the plant becomes less productive. Cutting the stalks will encourage the roots to produce more new shoots and provide a steady supply of young leaves.

Gardening Tip

Cut sorrel leaves from the plant before winter starts, approximately one month before soil gets frozen. Otherwise large sorrel leaves fall on the ground and a create dense, airtight layer that can kill a plant.

Harvesting leaves

You can start picking green leaves early in spring for soup and salads. Be aware that sorrel leaves contains oxalic acid, so do not overuse them. It is better to consume young leaves because they are less acidic. Also when cooking with sorrel leaves – discard stems, use leaves only.

Check out my Sorrel Soup recipe

To have a fresh supply of young leaves – keep on cutting leaves, because cutting sorrel back rejuvenates growth.  I usually like to cut sorrel leaves the first week from one clump, the next week – from second clump, the third week – from third clump, the fourth week – cut the leaves from the first clump again. This way you will have a steady supply of young mild leaves for your culinary needs.

Gardening Tip

You can start to pick sorrel from a new sorrel plant after it produced at least 4 leaves. Cut sorrel leaves with knife or scissors  at a height at least 2 inches above the ground.

Harvesting seeds 

Sorrel seeds ripen at mid summer – early in the autumn. They should be black when you collect them. If you omit cutting stalks and leave seeds uncollected, they will fall to the ground and reseed.

Final thoughts on growing sorrel

growing sorrel

 Pin for later reference!

Sorrel is a prolific perennial plant that can be grown from seeds or replanted from divided  clumps. It does not require much care, and when established – it will keep supplying you with leaves for soups and salads from early spring till mid-autumn.

Do your grow sorrel in your garden? Do you sow seeds each year or have a dedicated place for sorrel in the garden and allow it to reseed itself? Share in the comments.

And if you found this article useful – be so kind to share with friends.

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How to Grow Sorrel

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