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Herbs – last dates for sowing and planting before shemitah

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To what category does herbs belong to? And thus, until what date is planting allowed?


Rabbi Moshe Bloom

Perennial herbs, such as rosemary, lavender, sage, lemon verbena, lemon grass (all borei atzei besamim, by the way), have the same halachic status as non-fruit trees (eitz serak). As such, they are not subject to the sefichin prohibition. 

If sowing such herbs, their planting deadline is 15 Elul. This allows two weeks for the plant to take root.

Annual herbs, including basil and caraway (borei isvei besamim), have the status of vegetables. Their sowing deadline is also 15 Elul, and will be considered sefichin later on during the shemitah year (for the kedushat shevi'it calendar for herbs:

For both, if planted with their clods of soil, they can be planted by 26 Elul. In extenuating circumstances, up to 29 Elul.


Herbs can be used for havdalah. Herbs have kedushat shevi'it, and should be handled accordingly.

For herbs on woody branches (rosemary, for example), the branches with kedushat shevi'it are ones with new growth. For more on the topic, see here:

Tip: Don't wait until the last minute