Crop Rotation Group
Fertile soil that holds moisture well, with a neutral to slightly acidic pH.
Partial shade, especially summer shade.
Yes, sweet woodruff is a hardy perennial, tolerating cold to -30°F (-34°C).
None generally needed after plants are established. If a planting is struggling, drench it with a liquid organic fertilizer after blooms fade in late spring.
Single Plants: 9" (25cm) each way (minimum)
Rows: 9" (25cm) with 9" (25cm) row gap (minimum)
Sow and Plant
Sweet woodruff seeds require cold stratification and are not dependable sprouters, so it is best to start with a purchased plant in spring. You also can dig chunks from an existing clump and transplant to your chosen site. Sweet woodruff spreads by shallow rhizomes, and most gardeners who have it can offer plenty to share. Young plants need water when they are actively growing, but once established their water needs are modest.
Our Garden Planner can produce a personalized calendar of when to sow, plant and harvest for your area.
An ideal plant to grow as a ground cover in dappled shade, sweet woodruff is one of the few ground covers that will grow near black walnuts. Where sweet woodruff shows an inclination to grow too well, limit its spread by mowing around the edges of the planting, and by withholding water during droughts. The weed called bedstraw is a different plant (G. aparine) that does not have sweet woodruff’s aromatic qualities.
In addition to being a vibrant green ground cover, sweet woodruff is grown for its scented whorled leaves, which become more aromatic after they have been dried. Smelling of mowed grass, cinnamon and vanilla, dried sweet woodruff leaves can be used in sachets or potpourri. Gather leaves for drying as flowering wanes in early summer.
Sweet woodruff has few pest problems. The same coumarin compounds that give sweet woodruff leaves their scent makes them resistant to nibbling by rabbits and deer.
Planting and Harvesting Calendar
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