Angelica is a tall biennial plant that acquired the name from its supposed ability to prevent or cure plague. People considered it a “guardian angel.” All parts of the plant are aromatic. Use the leaves in salads, add the seeds as a flavoring in cooking, cook the roots as a vegetable and candy the stems. Essential angelica oil is used to flavor vermouth and Benedictine.
• More detailed information can be found in The Georgia Fruit & Vegetable Book
by Walter Reeves and Felder Rushing
• See also Home Garden Angelica
WHEN TO PLANT
Plant angelica in early spring, as soon as the worst of the freezing weather is over. It can tolerate frost but not temperatures that get down to the teens at night.
WHERE TO PLANT
This tall-growing herb needs room because it will reach 5 feet tall and spread 2 to 3 feet. Angelica prefers a location with light, moist soil that is in partial shade (filtered sun all day or shade part of the day). These plants fit equally well in a perennial border and the vegetable garden.
HOW TO PLANT
Buy started plants in the spring. Space the plants at least 2 feet apart in the garden in well-prepared soil. Usually, a couple of plants are sufficient for culinary needs. Since these are biennial plants, they flower the second year after planting and then die out. To have flowering plants each year, plant or sow seed each year. You may collect seeds in the fall and sow them immediately, or you may save seeds in an airtight jar in the refrigerator and sow them the following spring.
CARE AND MAINTENANCE
Control weeds until the plants are large enough to shade them out. Mulching is not recommended as weed prevention because of its potential to attract slugs. The plants prefer cool weather and moist soil; as with most aromatic herbs, these plants do better in soil with low fertility. Water angelica in dry weather. Giving them 1 inch per week is probably okay but too lush growing conditions cause overly tall, weak plants.
Harvest leaves as needed during the season. Pick pieces of fresh stem with the leaves for candying. At season’s end, collect and dry the leaves. Harvest the seeds as they ripen in the flower heads. If flower heads are removed, these plants will last several years, growing as short-lived perennials. If the plant is allowed to flower and the seed is allowed to ripen on the plants and fall to the ground, angelica can become naturalized in the garden. Plant it where it can grow undisturbed by other gardening activities.