How to Plant, Grow and Care for Sorrel

In the event you get pleasure from a pop of lemony herbs in your salads and dishes, you need to take into account including the sorrel plant to your backyard! It’s simple to develop and can match proper in along with your herb backyard or subsequent to your spinach.

Two foremost kinds of sorrel are sometimes utilized in cooking: Rumex acetosa (backyard sorrel) and Rumex scutatus (French sorrel). You should use them to make sorrel soup, salad, or prepare dinner them up with different greens and veggies. In the event you’re unfamiliar with it, it cooks up identical to spinach, rhubarb, or Swiss chard.

Sorrel can change into weedy in the fitting local weather, however it ought to be simple to manage when grown in a yard backyard or a container. You may even develop it indoors all yr lengthy. Let’s check out the right way to develop this zesty herb! 

Fast Care Information

Frequent Identify(s) Sorrel, backyard sorrel, inexperienced sorrel, pink veined sorrel, narrow-leaved dock, spinach dock, French sorrel
Scientific Identify Rumex acetosa, Rumex scutatus
Days to Harvest 35 days for younger leaves, 60 days for mature leaves
Mild Full solar, partial shade
Water Hold soil moist with no less than 1 inch per week
Soil Common, barely acidic, well-draining
Fertilizer Natural matter or balanced fertilizer
Pests Aphids, butterfly and moth larvae, slugs, snails
Ailments Powdery mildew, root rot

All About Sorrel Plant

Sorrel is a perennial plant native to Europe and Asia; it grows in moist situations.

Sorrel—additionally referred to as dock—is native to most components of Europe and components of Asia however can now be discovered all through North America and in lots of gardens. It naturally grows in moist situations like woodlands or meadows close to streams.

When grown within the wild, sorrel is usually thought of a weed since it may be a bit aggressive. It’s a perennial plant that grows in clumps, and the clumps can get larger every year. 

Rumex acetosa is the most typical number of sorrel utilized in cooking. It has an acidic taste paying homage to lemon zest, so it’ll add a citrusy taste to your meals.

French sorrel (Rumex scutatus) is one other frequent selection and is usually most popular as a result of the acidic taste is tamer than R. acetosa. Younger sorrel leaves are most popular to eat as a result of they’ve essentially the most taste, whereas mature leaves are extra mellow and aren’t as tender.

Sorrel will get its citrus vibes from oxalic acid, which is definitely harmful to devour in massive quantities. Nevertheless, frequent sorrel and French sorrel have decrease portions of oxalic acid, in order that they’re safer to eat.

It’s fit for human consumption uncooked, however cooking it is going to make it even safer. There are some varieties that aren’t utilized in cooking (R. crispus and R. acetosella) as a result of their ranges of oxalic acid are too excessive to devour safely.

Sorrel vegetation are native to all of Europe and Asia, and so they’re naturalized in lots of different components of the world.

Relying on the species, its location, and its related look, frequent names for sorrel embrace backyard sorrel, inexperienced sorrel, red-veined sorrel, narrow-leaved dock, spinach dock, French sorrel, frequent, or sheep sorrel. 

Planting Sorrel

Close-up of transplanting red-veined sorrel into soil in a garden. Female hands in white-green gloves hold a blue rake and a sorrel seedling with a root ball. There are garden tools, a blue bucket and a seedling of young peppers with ripening fruits in a clay pot on the garden bed. Sorrel has distinctly deep red veins running through its bright green leaves. The leaves are lanceolate, and slightly pointed.
Sorrel seeds may be planted instantly within the floor or began indoors earlier than transplanting.

Sorrel seeds are finest planted instantly within the floor, however you can begin them indoors and transplant them outdoors if you wish to get a head begin or you probably have an excellent quick rising season.

Whether or not you begin your sorrel seeds indoors or outside, select soil that’s wealthy in natural matter and drains effectively. Sorrel likes moisture however doesn’t wish to keep constantly moist in soggy soil. 

Seeds ought to be planted just below the soil. You may place them on the soil and canopy them with a light-weight layer of soil or press them into the soil barely and barely cowl them up. Hold the soil moist however not moist.

In the event you’re planting sorrel seed indoors, begin three weeks earlier than the final frost within the spring. Plant 2-3 seeds in a seed beginning pot and skinny them out as soon as they’ve all sprouted so you will have only one seedling left.

The seedlings might be a couple of inches tall by the point you possibly can transfer them outside, and you can begin harvesting the tender sorrel leaves nearly instantly. 

Don’t transplant them outdoors till the hazard of frost has handed, because the seedlings might freeze, and plant the transplants about 6 inches away from one another. In the event you plant the seeds instantly outside, sprinkle the seeds in a row and skinny them out as soon as they’re a couple of inches tall.

Caring for Backyard Sorrel

Rising sorrel – whether or not you select red-veined sorrel, frequent, or sheep sorrel –  is lots like rising different greens. Hold them watered and maintain them cool. General, they need to be one of many simpler vegetation in your backyard!

Solar and Temperature

Close-up of a growing sorrel (Rumex) in a sunny garden. The plant has bright green leaves with a characteristic spear shape with slightly pointed ends.
Sorrel is finest fitted to USDA zones 3-7, cool climate, and full solar publicity.

Sorrel grows finest in USDA zones 3-7. They like cool climate and are finest fitted to spring and fall. When the climate is cool, they like full solar publicity.

However, if you wish to develop sorrel by the summer time, you’ll have to plant sorrel in a shady space that receives morning solar. Alternatively, attempt planting sorrel in a container you possibly can transfer into the shade through the hottest a part of the day.

In the event you stay in a colder or hotter local weather outdoors its most popular vary, you possibly can develop sorrel leaves indoors all yr! Place them below a develop mild or by a sunny window, and also you’ll have scrumptious sorrel very quickly.

Like different greens, sorrel is delicate to frost and sizzling temperatures. Use frost or shade cowl when there’s a hazard of frost or warmth to guard your vegetation. Sorrel will bolt in sizzling temperatures, so it’s possible you’ll lose your vegetation as spring transitions to summer time in hotter climates.

Water and Humidity

A female gardener waters fresh sorrel plants from a yellow watering can on a raised bed in a garden. Sorrel has bright green, arrow-shaped leaves with a smooth texture.
Hold your soil moist however not moist, and water your vegetation early within the morning on the base.

Make sure you give your soil no less than one inch of water every week so the highest 1-2 inches of soil stays moist. The frequent and red-veined sorrel vegetation don’t prefer to dry out, however they don’t prefer to be moist, both. Moist soil might result in root rot and kill your vegetation.

Water your vegetation early within the morning at their bases to keep away from getting the leaves moist. This can cut back the danger of ailments spreading in your backyard and permit the water to soak into the soil earlier than the solar begins to evaporate it.

French sorrel is extra tolerant of dry soil, so if constant water is a typical drawback in your backyard, the French selection ought to be simpler to develop.


Top view, close-up of a gardener's hand loosening the soil near a growing sorrel in a sunny garden. The gardener wears a purple and black glove and holds a red and gray pitchfork. Sorrel has beautiful, oblong green arrow-shaped leaves.
Plant sorrel in well-draining, barely acidic soil.

Develop sorrel in barely acidic soil with a pH of 5.5-6.8. In the event you battle to maintain your soil impartial, pop some sorrel in! As for the kind of soil, sorrel isn’t too choosy!

Attempt planting sorrel in soil that drains simply, like a predominately loamy or sandy soil; clay soil is prone to be too heavy until you combine it with natural matter or perlite.


Close-up of a woman's hand spraying liquid fertilizer from a blue spray bottle onto a growing sorrel plant in a raised bed. Sorrel produces oblong, arrow-shaped leaves that are dark green in color.
Think about using a basic vegetable fertilizer excessive in nitrogen.

In the event you develop sorrel with loads of natural matter like compost or leaf mulch, you most likely gained’t want to use fertilizer, because the nutrient-rich matter will present sufficient.

In the event you don’t have compost or develop sorrel in poor soil, you should utilize a basic vegetable fertilizer that’s a bit increased in nitrogen since nitrogen helps with leaf manufacturing.

Granules will solely should be equipped a couple of times in a rising season, whereas liquid fertilizer will should be utilized extra usually. Established vegetation can develop in less-than-ideal situations within the wild, so it’s possible you’ll not even want fertilizer!


Close-up of male hands pruning sorrel leaves with yellow pruners on a bed in a sunny garden. The leaves are oval-shaped, bright green in color, with a smooth texture.
Sorrel may be pruned by eradicating previous leaves and flower stalks.

In the event you’re rising sorrel for culinary functions, you most likely gained’t have to prune your sorrel usually because you’ll be consuming the leaves! You may prune off older leaves you didn’t harvest in time, and the flower stalks it produces because it tries to bolt.

Pruning as seen within the video above will assist promote new progress.

Since sorrel grows in clumps, you possibly can separate the clumps to create new vegetation. This can be essential should you develop sorrel as a perennial in your backyard and begins to take up an excessive amount of area.


Close-up of many young red-veined sorrel seedlings in starter seed trays. Trays have many deep cells filled with soil mixture. Sorrel seedlings have beautiful small arrow-shaped leaves of bright green color with characteristic red veins.
There are 3 ways to propagate sorrel: seeds, breaking apart clumps, and cuttings.

There are 3 ways you possibly can propagate sorrel. All of them work effectively, so you possibly can mess around and discover the strategy that works for you.

Seeds are most likely the best option to get sorrel into your backyard for the primary time. Sorrel grows small pinkish-red flowers as soon as it bolts, which is the way it produces seed stalks. It can save you the seeds to start out new vegetation subsequent yr. Then sow sorrel seeds indoors or outside as desired.

For current vegetation, you possibly can break up the clumps into smaller clumps and plant them elsewhere to provide a brand new plant. This technique is best should you can develop sorrel as a perennial herb. If it’s important to develop them as annuals in your backyard, you gained’t get a lot use out of this technique.

One other option to propagate is by cuttings. You may place a leaf in water till it develops roots after which plant it in soil.

Harvesting and Storing Sorrel Vegetation

Now that you simply’ve grown sorrel, it’s time to eat it! Let’s take a look at how one can harvest and retailer your sorrel recent or in any other case.

Harvesting Backyard Sorrel

Close-up of a woman's hands picking fresh sorrel leaves into a large metal bowl in a sunny garden. The leaves are oblong, shield-like shape, bright green in color with a smooth and glossy texture.
Harvest younger and tender sorrel leaves with clear backyard shears beginning 35 days after planting.

Sorrel is often finest loved when the leaves are younger as a result of they’re tender and flavorful. You can begin harvesting leaves as quickly as 35 days after planting.

Use clear backyard shears or scissors to chop leaves on the plant’s base. Begin with the outer leaves since these are the oldest. Sorrel is a cut-and-come-again inexperienced, so it is going to proceed to provide new progress, so you possibly can harvest from it many times!

In the event you don’t thoughts the style of older fiddle-shaped leaves, you possibly can wait till the plant has grown a bit for an even bigger harvest to eat abruptly. In the event you favor the youthful leaves, sow sorrel seeds in succession so that you’ll all the time have some readily available.

Storing Sorrel Leaves

Fresh green sorrel leaves in crate on wooden table. The leaves are bright green in color, arrow-shaped with a delicate, smooth and slightly glossy texture.
To retailer sorrel, maintain harvested leaves in a plastic bag within the fridge for per week.

Retailer harvested sorrel leaves in a plastic bag within the fridge with a paper towel to soak up extra moisture. Leaves might be recent for as much as one week. Don’t wash your sorrel till you’re prepared to make use of it to stop extra moisture within the bag.

For long-term storage, wash the sorrel and permit it to dry out fully. Then, chop it up and retailer it in a freezer bag. It could actually keep in your freezer for a number of months.

One other long-term answer is an “herb dice.” Fill an ice dice tray with chopped sorrel and olive oil and put it within the freezer. Subsequent time you must prepare dinner with oil and sorrel, pop it within the pan, and also you’re able to go! You may add different perennial herbs to pack in additional taste too. 


Sorrel isn’t actually a troublemaker because it’s disease-resistant and has only a few pest issues. However right here are some things to look out for.

Rising Issues

Close-up of a growing sorrel in a sunny garden with damaged leaves. The leaves are oblong, arrow-shaped, bright green with damaged brown edges and spots.
Sorrel prefers cool climate and should begin bolting in sizzling climates.

Sorrel is a hardy perennial, however it may be powerful to develop in sizzling climates because it likes cool climate. Whereas it’s blissful to develop in zones 3-7, it might begin bolting in late spring or early summer time in areas that heat up fairly shortly.

You may decelerate the bolting course of by planting it in an space that receives afternoon shade or indoors. In zones above 7, you’ll must plant it indoors or in shady areas.


Close-up of a colony of aphids, an insect pest, on a sorrel stalk, against a blurred green background. Aphids are tiny soft-bodied black insects that suck the sap from plants.
To eliminate aphids, use a robust jet of water or neem oil.

The pests that may trouble sorrel are seemingly going to be discovered all through your backyard since there aren’t actually any sorrel-specific pests.

Aphids are available many colours and suck the sap from leaves and stems. The best option to eliminate them is to clean them off with water. Neem oil can be useful for suffocating them.

Snails and slugs are sometimes interested in greens of all types. Diatomaceous earth will help kill snails and slugs, however DE is basically solely efficient when it’s dry, and sorrel likes moist soil, so it is probably not that efficient. Decide them by hand. You may put on gloves should you suppose that’s an icky job!

Helpful nematodes are one other nice pure option to kill slugs, as these nematodes search for critters and never vegetation. There are a lot of slug and snail killers available on the market, so search for an possibility that may fit your backyard.


Green sorrel leaf damaged by Ramularia rubella. The leaf is oblong, arrow-shaped, green in color with symptoms of the disease in the form of red spots.
Sorrel is disease-resistant however might get powdery mildew and root rot from overwatering.

There aren’t any ailments which are particular to sorrel, making it a pal to many gardens! Even so, it might succumb to powdery mildew if different vegetation in your backyard have the illness. You may stop it with a fungicide, however you’ll must throw away contaminated vegetation since there isn’t a treatment.

In case your soil is simply too moist, your sorrel might develop root rot, which is able to finally kill the entire plant. Don’t water by hand if it rained just lately, and check out to not give your plant a couple of inch per week.

Often Requested Questions

Q: Are you able to eat sorrel plant?

A: Sorrel is scrumptious and nutritious and is nice in soups, salads, casseroles, and every other dishes that may want some lemony taste.

Q: Is sorrel poisonous to people?

A: Sorrel has oxalic acid, which is poisonous to people in massive quantities. Including sorrel to salad gained’t be sufficient to harm you, so it’s fit for human consumption.

Q: The place does sorrel develop finest?

A: Sorrel grows finest in a sunny location with moist soil in spring or fall.

Q: Does sorrel come again yearly?

A: Sorrel can normally be grown as a perennial in USDA zones 5-7, which means it is going to come again yearly.

Q: Is sorrel fit for human consumption uncooked?

A: Sorrel is fit for human consumption uncooked in small quantities. (Perhaps don’t eat kilos of it each day!)

Q: What does sorrel style like?

A: Sorrel tastes lots like lemon zest – it’s tangy and citrusy.

Q: What kinds of sorrel are edible?

A: Rumex acetosa (frequent sorrel) and Rumex scutatus (French sorrel) are the most secure varieties to eat due to their decrease ranges of oxalic acid.

Q: Is sorrel arduous to develop?

A: Sorrel is normally simple to develop if the soil is moist, the temperatures aren’t too sizzling, and it will get sufficient daylight.

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