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Sweet Woodruff Is a Groundcover for Shade Gardens

Virtues: Sweet woodruff (Galium odoratum) spreads by its roots to fill in areas of the shade garden. It can make an attractive perennial groundcover in challenging areas of low light. It should not be planted where it might escape into natural areas, but sweet woodruff is a helpful plant in the confines of the shade garden.

sweet woodruff

Common name: Sweet woodruff

Botanical name:Galium odoratum

Exposure: Part to full shade

Season: Spring for flowers; spring through fall for foliage

Flowers: Clusters of fragrant, star-shape white flowers rise above the foliage in spring.

Foliage: The medium green leaves are long and narrow and arranged in whorls atop thin stems.

Habit: Sweet woodruff is an herbaceous perennial groundcover that grows 8 to 12 inches tall. It spreads by rhizomes (underground stems) to an indeterminate width. When happy it can cover a large area.

Origins:Galium odoratum is a plant species native to northern Africa, much of Europe and northern Asia.

How to grow sweet woodruff: Plant it in part shade or full shade, in well-drained soil that remains moist. Provide supplemental water in times of drought. Sweet woodruff can spread to fill whole sections of a garden if it is content, something to keep in mind when siting it. Avoid planting sweet woodruff at garden edges where it may escape into natural areas. USDA Zones 4–8.

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