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About Hyssop: Hyssop is a native of southern Europe and the Mediterranean. Historians cannot be sure if it is the same "hyssop" referred to in the Bible, but it has a long history of being a symbol of purification. Besides being used in the ritual cleansing of churches, hyssop was cultivated in monastery gardens and used to deter infection in sick rooms. Hyssop symbolized humility in medieval paintings, and its thick growth made it ideal for hedges, mazes, or traditional English knot gardens. Medicinally it provided treatment for coughs, cuts and wounds, bruises, and skin diseases. Old English country doctors often used a poultice of hyssop leaves and sugar as a protection against tetanus infection. Today hyssop grows mostly as an ornamental plant.

Hyssop Germination: Hyssop thrives in light, well drained soil and full sun or partial shade, and should be planted after the last frost of spring. It can also be planted in late fall for spring germination. Since the seeds need light to germinate, sow them on the surface of the soil 6" apart and thin them to 12" when the seedlings appear. Germination may take as long as 3-4 weeks. For companion planting benefits, plant hyssop near cabbages or grapevines, but not radishes. Hyssop also makes an excellent border, hedge, or container plant because of its attractive blooms and bushy, compact growing habit; this herb attracts many bees, hummingbirds, and butterflies.

Growing Hyssop Seeds: Do not over water, since this herb prefers slightly dry soil. Hyssop resists nearly all pests and diseases. Before the spring growth, prune the plant heavily for healthy, tender new stems.

Harvesting Hyssop: Harvest leaves for fresh use as soon as they reach a desirable size. The best time for harvesting is the morning after the dew has dried. Though both the leaves and flowers can be used as an herb or a flavoring, the flavor of the leaves is stronger than that of the flowers. Entire stalks can be harvested as soon as the flowers begin to open, and hung upside down to dry; they should be dried quickly and away from direct sunlight. Once dried, remove the leaves and flowers from the stem and store in an airtight container.

Saving Hyssop Seeds: In the late summer, the flowers will fade and the seeds begin to develop. Remove the stalks individually as they ripen, and spread them out to dry away from direct sunlight. Shake them to remove the seed. Store the seed in a cool, dry place.

Detailed Hyssop Info: Hyssopus officinalis. Perennial. 180 days. Zone 3-9.18,500 seeds per oz. 18-24" height. 12" spacing. Produces woody stalks with long, narrow leaves and varying bright blue, pink, or white flowers.

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