Epazote is a perennial herb whose culinary and medicinal uses date back to ancient Aztec cultures. A staple of Central and South American cuisine, this easy to grow annual thrives in Zones 2–7 and can, when left unchecked, spread through your garden like a weed. For this reason, epazote is a great candidate for container growing. Reaching heights of up to 4′, its strong flavor is described as similar to anise or fennel. Epazote is often used in bean dishes for both imparting flavor and reducing associated flatulence. If that’s the case, we’ll let epazote take over as much as it wants!
Seed Depth: 1/8–1/4″
Space Between Plants: 6–10″
Space Between Rows: 12″
Germination Soil Temperature: Above 65°F. Ideal 65–85°F
Days for Germination: 7–21
Sow Indoors: Not recommended.
Sow Outdoors: After all danger of frost has passed and nighttime temperatures are consistently above 50°F.
Vegetative: Can be propagated through cuttings rooted in water but is most commonly started from seed.
Prefers warmer temperatures in temperate, subtropical, and tropical climates. Will grow as an annual in USDA zones 2 through 7 and as a perennial in zones 7 and up. Because of its invasive nature and distaste for the cold, we recommend growing this herb outdoors in a pot to allow easy transporting when temperatures begin to cool.
Natural: Full sun.
Soil: Will grow in most types of soil but is particularly fond of sandy soil. A pH of 5.2 to 8.3 will keep plants healthy and nourished.
Soilless: Can be grown in soilless mediums such as coco coir and well-rotted manure or compost.
Hydroponics: Will thrive in a hydroponic system such as ebb and flow or NFT.
Aeroponics: Will thrive in an aeroponic system.
Water: Requires low to moderate levels of water, so be careful not to overwater plants.
Nutrients: Soil may be fertilized early in the growing period; however, it has been noted by some growers that fertilizer is not necessary and can potentially weaken the flavor of the plant.
Pruning: Epazote is extremely invasive and will self-seed if given the chance. To prevent it from taking over your garden, cut off seed heads as they grow.
Companions: Due to its capacity to deter pests and attract some predatory bugs, it is an appropriate companion plant for most other varieties of plant. Again, watch for its invasive nature.
Harvest: Can begin harvested as soon as the plant has established itself by snipping or picking off new growth. Starting with the central, largest stalk can help the rest of the plant produce larger leaves.
Storage: Stores best when dried but can also be kept fresh by placing stems in a cup of water and covering the leaves with a plastic bag in the refrigerator.
Fun Fact: Because of its ability to deter pests, the leaves of this plant can be distilled in water which can then be used as an all-natural wash around the house to keep bugs away.
Preserve: Can be dried by hanging upside down by the stems in a cool, dry location.
Prepare: Is frequently added to dishes towards the end of the cooking process because of its extremely strong flavor. If adding dried leaves, note that they will soften and increase in flavor the longer they are cooked. Traditionally, epazote was most commonly used in Mexican cuisine for flavoring beans by simmering the dried leaves with the beans and other herbs in a pot.
Nutritional: Although this herb is beneficial more for its flavor than nutrients, it does contain trace amounts of vitamin(s) C, B6, fiber, calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc, copper, and phosphorous.
Medicinal: Has traditionally been used to prevent gas.
Warnings: In large doses, this herb can be toxic, so moderate consumption is recommended. Pregnant women and small children should avoid consuming the herb. The oils and seeds should not be consumed.
Tired of plain old peppermint or chamomile? Try this Epazote Tea instead!