Sorell is a leafy herb that’s most commonly found in French cuisine.  

Its smaller, younger leaves are used mostly for garnish as they don’t cook well and can be quite bitter. But its mature, bigger leaves have a distinct sour flavor, similar to a lemon, making it an excellent addition to fish.

In this article, you’ll learn how to grow red vein sorrel hydroponically.

There are three common varieties of sorrel, identifiable by their leaf shapes. Broad leaf, also known as common, sorrel has long, skinny leaves. French, or buckler, sorrel have short, triangular leaves. Red-veined sorrel has distinct red veins running through its leaves.

Sorrel is good for you too.

The herb is rich in vitamin A, which is essential for vision and healthy organ function, and potassium, which lowers blood pressure.

It’s also a good source of vitamin C, which improves wound healing and immune systems. Vitamin C is an important part of a healthy diet because our bodies don’t naturally produce it.

It can be hard to find sorrel in grocery stores, so it makes an excellent addition to any garden. We grow red veined sorrel all year long in our Pure Greens container farms.

To get started, you’ll need a hydroponic growing system. Our container farms use nutrient-film technique (NFT) and deep floating technique (DFT) systems.

Sowing Seeds

Start the sorrel seeds in a growing medium. We use rockwool, which is made from spun basalt rock fibers, for growing mature plants and biostrate pads for growing microgreens.

Before sowing seeds in rockwool cubes, be sure to soak the medium in nutrient solution and allow the water to drain out. Do not squeeze rockwool!

Red-veined sorrel has a high germination rate, so sow one to two seeds per grow cube.

Allow the seeds to germinate and grow until the sprouts are about 3 inches tall, which should take about 14 days. If your plants reach 3 inches earlier or later than the 14-day mark, don’t worry too much.

“The time can vary,” explains our lead plant grower Andrew Wise. “Sometimes with nature, things just don’t go the way you plan.”

Transplant the sprouted sorrel plants to your hydroponic system once they’re 3 inches tall.

Caring for Red Vein Sorrel

Once your sorrel crops have been transplanted to the hydroponic system, care for them as you would any other herb.

We give our plants 18 hours of light and 6 hours of darkness each day using 5500K white LED lights.

The amount of nutrient solution you give the sorrel will depend on it size and your system, according to Andrew.

As it grows, it’ll naturally require more water.

The temperature and humidity of your growing environment affects how thirsty your plants are due to the vapor pressure deficit (VPD).

A low VPD will allow plants to transpire more, leading to a higher water intake. Conversely, a high VPD does not allow plants to transpire much, leading to less water intake.

Generally, a lower VPD is optimal for plant growth.

Monitor your sorrel’s growth in order to identify possible health problems.

“If they’re not growing like they should be, if it seems like they haven’t done anything in a while, that’s a good indication that something is going on,” Andrew says.

Keep an eye out for discoloration too.

“If it starts to yellow in any way, that’s a good indication that there’s a problem,” Andrew describes.

Yellowed leaves could indicate problems with the pH balance or amount of nutrient solution the plants are receiving.

Harvesting Red Vein Sorrel

Red vein sorrel benefits from careful, frequent harvesting.

Harvest sorrel leaves when they’re about 1 ½ to 2 inches long. Any longer and the leaves will stiffen and be too bitter.

This narrow harvest window sets sorrel apart from more common leafy greens.

“With some herbs it’s actually the opposite, where they need to be bigger and fully matured to then have their true flavor, smell, and overall appeal,” Andrew explains. “Whereas, the sorrel, if it matures too much, it loses its appeal.”

Continue to harvest leaves as they grow.

Cook sorrel leaves into sauces, mix them in salads, or brew them into tea. Or sell them to chefs for a profit!

Now that you know how to grow red vein sorrel hydroponically, you can start growing it in your own container farm!

Contact us at 602-753-3469 or visit our website for more information on how to get started!