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Sweet woodruff (Galium odoratum) is a herb that is often overlooked, but it can be a great addition to any garden, especially shady ones.
Historically, the sweet woodruff herb has been cultivated for the purpose of its aromatic leaves, which have been used as a deodorizer.
You should consult a medical professional before using it medicinally. It’s also a food plant with a flavor resembling vanilla.
In modern times, sweet woodruff has proven most useful as a ground cover for woodland settings.
With its star-shaped whorls of leaves and delicate white blossoms, sweet woodruff ground cover may bring life to a shady garden spot.
Planting and caring for sweet woodruff is a simple process that yields significant rewards.
How to Grow Sweet Woodruff Herb
The sweet woodruff herb thrives in the shade. They thrive in soil that is rich in organic matter, such as fallen leaves and branches, but they can also be grown in soil that is too dry to support much moisture. USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 4–8.
The sprightly sweet woodruff spreads by means of runners. It is highly contagious and, under the correct conditions, invasive, when planted in wet soil.
As a ground cover, sweet woodruff is a good choice if you want to encourage the spread of a plant that could eventually take over the region.
Annual spading of the bed’s edge will also help keep sweet woodruff in check.
When growing sweet woodruff in a flower bed, you can create a neat edge by driving a spade into the dirt along the border.
The runners will be cut off as a result. Take away any sweet woodruff that has sprung up around the bed’s perimeter.
Growing sweet woodruff is easy once the plants are established. It shouldn’t be fertilized and watering is only necessary during dry spells.
Taking care of sweet woodruff is as simple as that.
Sweet Woodruff Propagation
The most common method of spreading sweet woodruff is by division.
Clumps of a well-established patch can be dug up and moved elsewhere.
The sweet woodruff plant can also be spread in this way.
You can sow sweet woodruff seeds outside as soon as the soil is workable in the spring, or you can start them indoors up to 10 weeks before the last frost date in your area.
In early spring, scatter the seeds throughout the area you’ve chosen for your sweet woodruff, and then lightly cover them with sifted dirt or peat moss. So, go ahead and water the grass there.
The seeds for sweet woodruff should be planted in a growing pot with a little covering of peat moss and started inside. Soak the container in water and give it two weeks in the fridge.
Once the sweet woodruff seeds have been cooled, they should be germinated in a cold, well-lit location (50 F. (10 C.), such as a basement or unheated, attached garage.
The seedlings can be transplanted to a warmer environment after they have germinated.
Pruning Sweet Woodruff
Although not strictly essential, you can prune this ground cover to keep it within the area you’d like to use as a focal point.
If it gets too dense, you can thin it out by cutting back the plant.
Propagating Sweet Woodruff
Parts of this plant can be dug up and replanted to create new plants.
Select zones that have been created for at least two years before beginning excavation.
This is most effective in the early or late seasons. In this way:
- Take a shovel and remove a chunk of the roots-still-attached soil.
- To move the clusters, simply replant them there.
- Don’t rush things; give the plants some time to become used to their new surroundings by watering and allowing them to root.
How to Grow Sweet Woodruff From Seed
Sweet woodruff also can be reproduced from seed, but this is rarely done because root division is so easy.
If you desire to use seeds, wait to pick them until they fully ripen in July or August.
Then, either seed them straight into the ground in early spring or start them inside up to 10 weeks before your area’s final frost.
Overwintering Sweet Woodruff
This ground cover will tend to become dormant and die back but will sprout again in the spring.
In colder regions, protecting plants from the elements throughout the winter is as simple as spreading a layer of mulch over the ground.
Common Pests & Plant Diseases
Sweet woodruff is a fantastic fly repellant and has no serious difficulties with pests or diseases.
The perfume of the blooms is an extra benefit, especially if you’ve planted them near your outdoor sitting area.
Identifying powdery mildew, characterized by a white chalky deposit on the leaves, and treating it with a combination of leaf removal and an organic product like neem oil is possible.
Sweet Woodruff Uses
Sweet woodruff plants are generally utilized as a flowering ground cover or edging for gloomy regions in a landscape.
Together with landscape mulch, the low mat formed by these perennials will suffocate any unwanted weeds.
They also are one of the plants that grow well under pine trees where many plants struggle to survive owing to soil acidity.
They will even flourish in the shade of a black walnut tree, which releases the poisonous juglone.
The benefits of sweet woodruff are not limited to aesthetics.
Aside from its more common use as a mattress filler, the plant has been put to use as an additive in alcoholic beverages like beer and wine, as well as non-alcoholic beverages like tea and fruit juices.
Nowadays, sweet woodruff is most regarded as a fragrant plant, with its perfume being compared to newly mown hay and vanilla when its leaves are cut or crushed.
This appealing aroma has been used commercially in perfumes. Dried greenery is used to add scent to a variety of household items, including sachets, potpourris, kissing balls, wreaths, and more.
This fragrance can linger for a long time. For optimum aroma, pluck the leaves of sweet woodruff shortly after the plant blooms.
To dry, bundles of cut branches should be hung in a warm, dry place with low humidity.