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Plant Profile: Sweet Woodruff (Galium odoratum)

Sweet Woodruff

Sweet Woodruff

My spring shade garden would not be complete with out sweet woodruff growing as a ground cover here and there with abandon. It has small very white flowers on apple green fine textured foliage and acts like a filler such as baby’s breath in a flower arrangement. The effect is quite beautiful. Sweet woodruff is very fast growing and quickly covers an area in spring, a very fine characteristic when you have a lot of spring bulbs with foliage to ripen. Once you can plant the area where the bulbs once stood (and the sweet woodruff has grown) it is easy to pull up the sweet woodruff to plant what you want with no fear that you will loose the sweet woodruff as it will stay any place you allow it to. This is quite a unique plant!

Type: Herbaceous perennial.

Bloom: Small white flowers borne in loose cymes over fine textured apple green foliage in April-May.

Size: 5”-12” H; spreads quickly to 1½’.

Light: Part shade-full shade; leaves will scorch in full sun.

Soil: Average, moist, well drained, acidic soil.

Fertilizer: No special needs.

Hardiness: Zones 6-10.

Care: Can be mowed if it grows where it is not wanted.

Pests and Diseases: No serious problems.

Propagation: Division of roots; seeds.

Companion plants: Woodland Phlox, Lady’s Mantle, Brunnera, Bleeding Heart, Fringed Bleeding Heart, small hostas, Tiarella; nice under azaleas and rhododendron and with spring flowering bulbs and wildflowers.

Comments: Plants are fragrant and smell like freshly mown hay when the leaves are crushed or cut. The fragrance increases when the plants are dried making them useful in sachets or potpourris. The leaves are famous as an ingredient in May wine made with white wine, woodruff, orange and pineapple.

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