When to Plant Sorrel

Green-leafed Sorrel

Plant sorrel seeds directly in the garden 2 to 4 weeks before the last frost in spring. To set out transplants start seeds indoors 4 to 5 weeks before transplanting. Set transplants in the garden 4 weeks before to 2 weeks after the last frost. Transplants will give you a head start on the season.

Sorrel is a cool-season leafy crop. It has a sharp, tangy flavor. It can be used in salads and soups and as an ingredient in sauces.

There are annual and perennial sorrel species. French sorrel (Rumex scutatus) and garden sorrel (R. acetosa) are perennials; Red-veined sorrel (R. sanguineus) is an annual.

Sorrel grows best in early spring and in fall, but sorrel is heat-resistant and will survive in hot summer regions when grown in partial shade. When grown as a perennial, sorrel should be given its own bed or spot where it can grow for several years. Perennial sorrel increases to a clump by multiplying underground.

Grow sorrel in moisture-retentive, humus-rich soil in full sun or partial shade If temperatures warm you can mulch them with aged compost to keep the plants from bolting.

Sorrel matures in about 70 days. Start to harvest outer leaves as soon as they are usable size. This cut-and-come-again method will prolong the harvest. The flavor and texture of leaves are best when leaves are still young and tender.

Red-veined sorrel
Red-veined sorrel

Sorrel planting dates

(These dates are for the Northern Hemisphere)

Average date of the last frostPlanting dates
Jan. 30Jan. 1-Mar. 1
Feb. 8Jan. 1-Mar. 1
Feb. 18Jan. 15-Mar. 1
Feb. 28Feb. 1-Mar. 10
Mar. 10Feb. 10-Mar. 15
Mar. 20Feb. 10-Mar. 20
Mar. 30Feb. 20-Apr. 1
Apr. 10Mar. 1-Apr. 1
Apr. 20Mar. 15-Apr. 15
Apr. 30Apr. 1-May 1
May 10Apr. 10-May 1
May 20Apr. 20-May 10
May 30May 1-June 1
June 10May 10-June 1
Sorrel in the garden

Sorrel planting details

  • Sowing depth: ¼ inch (.6 cm)
  • Space between plants after thinning: 8 to 18 inches (20-45cm)
  • Days to sprout: 5-7
  • Days to harvest: 70 days or as soon as the leaves are edible in about 40 days
  • Storage period: 1-2 weeks
  • Seeds per 100 row feet:  ¼ ounce (7 grams)
  • Yield per 100 row feet: 100 heads
  • Suggested varieties: Green, Red Veined

More about planting sorrel:

How to Grow Sorrel

How to Prepare Sorrel Cooked or Raw

Written by Stephen Albert

Stephen Albert is a horticulturist, master gardener, and certified nurseryman who has taught at the University of California for more than 25 years. He holds graduate degrees from the University of California and the University of Iowa. His books include Vegetable Garden Grower’s Guide, Vegetable Garden Almanac & Planner, Tomato Grower’s Answer Book, and Kitchen Garden Grower’s Guide. His Vegetable Garden Grower’s Masterclass is available online. has more than 10 million visitors each year.

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