How to Plant, Grow, and Care For Angelica

Are you looking for a bold plant that adds both character and flavor to your garden? Angelica is an herbaceous perennial with a striking structure and uniquely zesty taste for your edible landscape. In this article, gardening enthusiast Liessa Bowen will discuss the proper care and maintenance of these dramatic plants.

The Angelica archangelica plant stands tall with robust, hollow stems, large, deeply divided green leaves, and spherical clusters of tiny, creamy green flowers.


Angelica (Angelica archangelica), also known as garden angelica or Norwegian angelica, is an herbaceous biennial native to Greenland and Europe. It thrives in cooler climates and loves constantly moist soil conditions. All you’ll need to start is one angelica plant. Your one will readily spread by self-seeding to form dense colonies of massive six-foot-tall plants. 

This plant has been used for centuries as a medicinal herb. Today, gardeners may want to try growing angelica as an edible plant. Almost all parts of angelica are edible, although you don’t need to eat it to enjoy its licorice-like flavor. The big, broad, bold leaves grow in large clumps, developing thick, upright flowering stalks by mid-season of its second year. 

Angelica has many uses in the landscape. It makes an excellent pollinator plant, attracting bees, butterflies, and many beneficial insects during its flowering phase. You can always grow it to eat in soups, salads, and sautées. And if you are looking for something a bit unusual and very bold in stature, angelica will add plenty of character to your perennial garden, rear border, or naturalized wetland edge.

If you’re intrigued by this interesting plant, read on to learn more about Angelica, whether it’s a good fit for your landscape, and how to grow a patch for your garden enhancement and enjoyment.


Close-up of a bee on the flower head of an Angelica plant which consists of dome-shaped umbels of small, pale greenish-white flowers.
Plant Type Herbaceous perennial, Bbiennial
Family Apiaceae
Genus Angelica
Species archangelica
Native Area Europe, Siberia, Greenland
USDA Hardiness Zone 5 – 8
Sun Exposure Full sun to partial shade
Soil Type Rich, acidic, moist to wet
Watering Requirements Medium, wet
Maintenance Low
Suggested Uses Rain garden, herb garden, edible landscape
Height 3 – 6 feet
Bloom Season Summer
Flower Color Greenish-white
Attracts Butterflies, bees, pollinators, beneficial insects
Problems Slugs, leaf miners, aphids, leaf spot
Resistant To Wet soil, deer, rabbits
Plant Spacing 2 – 3 feet

Plant Natural History

Towering with sturdy, hollow stems, the plant features large, divided green leaves and spherical clusters of small, creamy-greenish flowers.
Discover a versatile culinary treasure with a rich botanical history.

Angelica (Angelica archangelica) is in the family Apiaceae, which includes thousands of different species, including carrots, celery, and parsley. The genus Angelica contains approximately 90 different species of both perennials and biennials. Angelica is native to Greenland, Russia, Iceland, and Scandinavia. It loves wet soil and is typically associated with wet meadows, disturbed areas, wetlands edges, and marshlands.

Angelica is frequently cultivated as a vegetable or herb. The seeds, leaves, stems, and roots are all edible. Young leaves can be harvested and eaten as an herbal seasoning, like parsley. The roots and stems can be prepared much like celery and cooked in soups and stews. Even the seeds can be used as a spice, similar to fennel, or brewed into a tea blend.

Although garden angelica is edible, it is similar in appearance to other poisonous in the same family, including hemlock and hogweed plants. Do not harvest any wild plants until you are absolutely certain of the identity of any plant you intend to consume.


This plant displays thick stems, feathery green leaves, and umbels of tiny, pale greenish-white flowers in a dome-shaped arrangement.
Experience the dramatic growth and self-sufficiency of garden angelica.

Garden angelica is a biennial plant. In its first year, it produces a broad, rounded mass of basal leaves. In its second year, it produces a tall flowering stalk. After flowering and setting seeds, the plant usually dies during its second winter. Angelica plants grow up to six feet tall and four feet wide.

You probably won’t ever have to worry about replanting angelica, however, because it freely self-seeds and creates hardy stands of vegetation. If you remove the flower heads each year, essentially preventing them from flowering fully, these plants will tend to regrow for three or four years instead of the typical two.

Angelica leaves are large and pinnately compound, with multiple leaflets per stem. The leaves are quite dramatic; a fully mature leaf can reach up to three feet long. The leaf edges are finely serrated. Some varieties grow pure green leaves, while others may have reddish-tinted leaves. Most angelicas have a thick and hollow main stem that is often purplish in color.

Angelica blooms profusely in the peak of summer. The flower heads are similar to parsley umbels. They are broad and dramatic, reaching six inches across. Each umbel is comprised of hundreds of tiny green, white, or yellow flowers. Some other angelica cultivars and species have pink or purple flowers. After flowering, long-lasting showy seedheads develop, full of tiny flattened brownish seeds. When crushed, the leaves, stems, and flowers all have a distinctive spicy scent.


New angelica plants are easily started from seed. The easiest and most reliable way to grow them is to harvest fresh seeds and sow these seeds soon after harvesting. Since angelica is usually grown as a biennial, you’ll need to harvest the seeds during the second year of growth. 


The Angelica seeds are small, oval-shaped, and ridged, with a light brown to tan color and a slightly flattened profile, clustered on the seed head.
Embrace effortless seed propagation for vibrant garden growth.

Angelica seeds are small, hard, somewhat flattened, and have pronounced lateral ridges. Each mature flowering angelica plant is capable of producing hundreds of viable seeds, and these plants will readily reseed themselves in ideal growing conditions. You won’t need to do any special collection, sowing, or preparation to allow your plants to naturally self-seed. 

If you want to gather your own seeds, simply collect fresh seeds by waiting until fall when the seeds have dried and turned brown. Harvesting fresh seeds and immediately sowing them is the best way to grow angelica from seed.

Whether you have collected your own seeds or purchased a pack of angelica seeds, it’s easiest to directly sow the seeds in the fall. Choose the location where you would like them to sprout the following spring. Prepare the soil by removing any weeds or other competing vegetation and turning the soil to loosen it and allow for air and water circulation. If you have poor-quality soil, go ahead and work in some organic compost at this time.

Angelica seeds require a period of cold-stratification before they germinate. Sow your seeds in the fall and allow them to overwinter outside. Simply sprinkle them in your prepared soil bed and water them in, allowing them to settle naturally into the soil surface. Don’t cover the seeds with soil because they need light to germinate. Then, let them go through their natural phase of winter dormancy. They’ll do even better with alternating cycles of hot and cold.

In the spring, when the weather starts to warm, the seeds will germinate. When the seedlings are a couple of inches tall, thin them to avoid overcrowding. Ultimately you will want to space your plants at least one foot apart.


Close-up of a young Angelica seedling with finely divided leaves and jagged edges in a black pot ready for replanting in the garden.
To ensure healthy growth, transplant young plants early in spring.

Angelica develops a long taproot, and larger plants do not like to be transplanted. It is, therefore, best to transplant these plants when they are young and not wait until they are pot-bound. Whether you buy potted angelica, start your own seeds in a pot, or dig out some seedlings, the transplanting method is basically the same. 

Try to transplant your angelica plants as early in the spring as possible so they have some time to become established before the weather heats up. Prepare your site by digging a hole slightly larger than the root mass of the potted plant. Carefully remove the plant from its pot and transfer it to the prepared hole. Refill around the roots with fresh soil and water it well. Keep your newly transplanted angelica well-watered for the first week or so after transplanting. 

How to Grow

Angelica is quite easy to grow. All you need is one plant to get started, and it will create future generations by freely self-seeding. Ideal conditions for angelica are full sun to partial shade with rich, moist soil. 


Featuring robust, grooved stems, the plant has large, globe-like clusters of delicate, greenish-white flowers against the blue sky in the garden.
Ensure adequate sunlight for thriving growth.

Angelica prefers full sun to partial shade. Ideally, your plants will receive at least three hours of direct sunlight each day. In warmer climates, plants will actually prefer some afternoon shade, but in cooler climates, full sun is ideal. 


View of flowering purple lupine and angelica plants with their strong, hollow stems and broad, dissected green leaves covered with drops of water against a background of rounded clusters of small, greenish-cream flowers.
Keep the soil consistently moist for thriving plants.

Angelica loves moist to wet soil. It’s best not to try to grow angelica in a very dry spot or you will need to do a lot of extra watering. Rather, place your plants in an area where the soil is most likely to stay moist. Water your plants thoroughly once a week unless you have adequate rainfall. Don’t allow the soil to completely dry out.


Young Angelica seedling with broad, dissected green leaves and slightly purple sturdy stems in a garden with mulched soil.
Thriving in diverse soils, prioritize consistent moisture for optimal growth.

Angelica isn’t too picky about soil conditions, so you can grow it in a variety of conditions. It performs well in clay and sandy soils but appreciates soil rich in organic material. The most important thing to remember about your soil is that it should stay consistently moist.

Climate and Temperature

Standing tall with sturdy stems, the plant boasts umbrella-like clusters of tiny, greenish flowers.
Thrives in Zones 5-8, preferring cooler climates for optimal growth.

Angelica grows well in USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 5 through 8. They tend to prefer cooler climates for maximum productivity and overwintering but can be grown as an annual in any climate.


Close-up of a gardener's hands holding a handful of dark brown granular organic fertilizer.
Enhance angelica growth with nutrient-rich soil or organic fertilizer.

Start your angelica plants in an organically rich soil, and you won’t need to fertilize them. If your soil is poor quality, however, you can boost your plant’s vigor by adding some general-purpose plant fertilizer or organic compost to boost your soil nutrients. 


Close-up of an Angelica seed head producing small, oval-shaped seeds with a light brown color with a slightly flattened profile
Manage its rapid growth with regular deadheading.

While angelica is easy to grow, it also reproduces quickly. You’ll want to regularly thin your angelica patch to keep these plants under control. If allowed to naturalize, they will easily fill an area with dense growth, forming large, impressive patches of vegetation.

Use sharp clippers to deadhead spent flowerheads and help prevent aggressive self-seeding. Angelica is not considered invasive, and although it naturalizes easily, it is also fairly easy to control with regular weeding or deadheading.

Garden Design

The plant showcases thick, ridged stems, intricately divided green leaves, and spherical umbels of small, pale green flowers.
Elevate your garden with angelica’s striking presence and versatility.

Angelica is an impressive perennial that makes a bold statement in your garden. Use this plant as a robust, leafy highlight in your rain garden or along the rear border of your perennial flower garden. If your plants grow very tall, the top-heavy flower heads may require staking to help hold them upright. 

Grow angelica as a short-lived ornamental or grow it as part of your herb or vegetable garden with the intent of harvesting its edible parts. This is a fabulous plant to help enhance your edible landscape. Once you have multiple angelicas growing well, you can start to harvest entire plants, leaving other plants untouched to continue reproducing. 

Perhaps you’re looking for something to spice up your pollinator garden. Angelica’s flowers are a crowd-pleaser for the beneficial insects. And since deer and rabbits don’t like the strong flavor, you can freely grow this plant without worrying about hungry herbivores decimating your crop. 


American Angelica, Angelica atropurpurea

The Angelica atropurpurea plant features striking, dark purple stems, large and rounded clusters of small, greenish-white flowers.
Native to central and eastern North America, it’s a striking sight.

American angelica is native to central and eastern North America, where it grows in moist, riparian habitats. The pale greenish-white flower umbels top dark reddish purple stems, making a very interesting contrast. 

Purple Angelica, Angelica gigas

Angelica gigas showcases tall, sturdy dark purple stems and striking, dense clusters of small, deep reddish-purple flowers.
Make a bold statement with the striking purple angelica.

Purple angelica, also called giant angelica or Korean angelica, is native to Asia and has very showy properties. These spectacular plants can reach six feet tall and have bold purple stems and remarkably dark purple flowers. This plant is sure to make a statement wherever you put it in your landscape.

‘Vicar’s Mead’ Angelica, Angelica sylvestris ‘Vicar’s Mead’

The Angelica sylvestris ‘Vicar’s Mead’ features dark purple stems and large, airy clusters of small, pale pink to white flowers.
Adorn your landscape with these exquisite floral hues.

‘Vicar’s Mead’ is a showy Angelica cultivar with beautiful soft lavender-pink flowers. As the flowers first start to open, they look purplish red. After opening and fully maturing, they turn pale purple, giving these plants the appearance of having multiple flower colors on the same plant. Grow this in your wild landscape, pollinator garden, or as part of a rear border for a truly beautiful experience. 

Wildlife Value

Swarm of bumblebees on dome-shaped clusters which consist of tiny purple-pink flowers.
Invite pollinators with these prolific, wildlife-friendly blooms.

Angelica is a great choice for a pollinator-friendly landscape. The large and prolific flowers add flair and attract a diverse abundance of pollinators and beneficial insects. Dense stands of angelica can add protective cover for small wildlife. Deer and rabbits generally don’t bother these plants. 

Common Problems

Garden angelica is typically trouble-free. You may, however, encounter some of these common garden pests feasting on your plants. 


Close-up of a slug eating a green Angelica leaf in a garden.
Keep slugs at bay with proactive garden cleanliness and traps.

Slugs are nuisance pests that come out to feast at night. You’ll know slugs are around when you see their shiny slime trails and notice chunks of your plant’s leaves missing in the morning. Deter slugs by removing their favorite hiding places, such as boards, sheets of plastic, and flat stones, under which they like to hide. You can also try setting out beer traps to catch and kill slugs when they come out of their hiding places to feed.

Leaf miners

A green leaf damaged by leaf miners displays winding, irregular trails or blotches that are pale or discolored, snaking across the leaf's surface.
Combat leaf miners with garden cleanliness and protective barriers.

Leaf miners are the larvae of the leafminer fly. The tiny larvae burrow into plant leaves and create meandering trails through the middle of the leaf. You’ll notice dead, white, or yellow trails on your leaves but probably won’t see the larvae themselves.

Deter leaf miners by keeping your garden area clean, promptly removing and destroying heavily infested leaves, or using a floating row cover over young plants to create a barrier that prevents the adult flies from laying their eggs.


Aphids are small, soft-bodied insects, green in color, clustering on the leaves of the plant.
Control aphids with ladybugs or a forceful water spray.

Aphids are very common insect pests. They gather in large numbers along stems, on the undersides of leaves, and sometimes on flowers. These small, soft-bodied insects may appear pink, gray, white, green, yellow, or brown.

Ladybugs love to eat aphids, but if there aren’t enough ladybugs around to eat them all, you can also spray jets of water on the aphids to dislodge them and, therefore, disrupt their feeding.

Leaf Spot

Prune and divide dense patches to increase airflow between angelica plants.

Septoria may be an issue on angelica. This disease begins as chlorotic spots that turn dark brown as it progresses. Often, this disease occurs in areas where angelica has self seeded many times over and there is little airflow between plants. Prune plants to promote air circulation, and remove any damaged leaves as they crop up. Do not allow seeds of affected plants to self-sow, and do not plant in the affected area to prevent further spread.

Final Thoughts

If you live in a cool climate and have both moist soil and some space to fill, a garden angelica plant is a great choice for a dramatic structural statement in your garden. One of the more unique aspects of growing angelica is that, once your plant is well established, you can start to harvest and eat any part of it.

Angelica therefore makes a great addition to an edible landscape, while at the same time, the flowers attract pollinators. These bold plants add plenty of curb appeal with their big leafy masses, thick stems, and colorful floral umbels. 

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