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What Are the Best Tips for Growing Sorrel?

Eugene P.
Eugene P.

Sorrel is a resilient herb that comes in a number of varieties. It generally is easy to grow in a garden or container, although there are some tips that can help to ensure the plant is healthy and grows as long as possible. As a leafy green, sorrel enjoys full sun but also is able to grow in partial shade and actually prefers to grow in an environment with a small amount of mottled shade for a very short period of time during the day. The soil in which the herb is planted should be well drained to compensate for the frequent watering that will help to promote strong growth. More than some other herbs, fertile soil that is high in nutrients and nitrogen can help the plant grow vigorously and consistently throughout the season, especially if the base of the plants and roots are dressed with compost or fertilizer midway through the season.

This herb prefers full sun while it is growing, but it does not like sun that is too strong or weather that is too hot. In northern climates, full sun is perfectly fine, but some shade during the course of the day is beneficial in areas with strong sun, dry weather and hot temperatures. Something to note about sorrel is that excessive heat and overly strong sun might cause the plant to bolt and produce seeds prematurely, or it might cause the leaves to take on a slightly bitter taste.

Sorrel leaves.
Sorrel leaves.

The soil in which sorrel is planted should be well drained. This is because the herb likes to be kept very moist and will grow well if it is watered very frequently so its leaves have an abundance of moisture from which to draw. One thing to watch, however, is the level of nutrients in the soil, because water can wash away some of the beneficial minerals in certain situations.

Sorrel may benefit from fertilizer use.
Sorrel may benefit from fertilizer use.

If the soil is kept very rich by incorporating compost or fertilizer, then the plant will tend to grow better. Fertilizers should contain a slightly higher concentration of nitrogen to encourage the growth of the leaves. Should the fertilizer have too much phosphorous, as can be the case with a flower fertilizer, the leaves might not grow as vigorously. Dressing or re-fertilizing the soil midway through the growing season also can help.

As sorrel is growing, leaves can be harvested from a healthy plant throughout the season and be replaced fairly quickly. One thing to watch out for is a long, thin stem growing up from the plant's center, which is where the flower and seeds will develop. Unless the flowers or seeds are desired, this should be cut down when detected so the sorrel will concentrate its energy on growing leaves and will not produce seeds and flowers.

In patches of sorrel in a garden, it also is important to watch how the plants are growing. In addition to aggressively self-sowing, the herb also might send out runners to start new plants. If this is not kept in check, then the plants can quickly spread and overtake an entire area.

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    • Sorrel leaves.
      Sorrel leaves.
    • Sorrel may benefit from fertilizer use.
      By: Sinisa Botas
      Sorrel may benefit from fertilizer use.