It was a garden tour that introduced me to sweet woodruff, an elegant looking groundcover in a lovely, shaded corner side yard. Subsequent to my new-to-me plant discovery, I can’t remember why, but I planted my sweet woodruff in a part of the garden that gets a fair of sun throughout the day. The plant did okay—for awhile. spreading and popping up in the foliage of some surrounding plants.
That’s probably because sweet woodruff (Galium odoratum) thrives in part shade to full shade. This perennial herb (the herb section is where you are likely to find it at the garden center), is much more suited for a woodland or shade garden. (and evergreen in the southern states), the foliage is shaped like green starbursts. The leaves are also described as “whorled.” This term is used to refer to three or more equally spaced leaves that grow from a node. (Our friend, Galium odoratum, has six to eight). Little white, fragrant flowers appear all over the plant in late spring. And the foliage remains a vibrant, deep green throughout the growing season.
If you’re looking for a lush groundcover that will thrive in part shade to shade, sweet woodruff is a great choice. It will spread and provide a nice carpet of greenery. It’s also a pretty plant selection for rock gardens, shady hills, borders, and woodland gardens. And because it’s shallow rooting, sweet woodruff is a solid option to plant under trees, where roots can get in the way, preventing a gardener from deeply to plant. Add it between stepping stones or use as edging plants, which look lovely cascading over rocks. In a cottage garden, sweet woodruff will blend in well with a naturalized aesthetic.
When planted in the proper conditions, sweet woodruff will remain green throughout the growing season. It does sometimes go dormant during an especially summer. The plant grows to be about six to eight inches (15 to 20 cm) tall and spreads about 12 inches (30 cm). Plants form a pretty thick carpet of foliage that is reasonably easy to manage if you keep on top of it. However, it does like to spread when it’s happy in its environment. To thin or contain the plant, pull out a clump, being sure to get all the underground rhizomes. You can then send it to the compost, re-plant elsewhere, or share the newly dug-out plant with a fellow gardener.