Sweet Woodruff (Galium odoratum)

Common names:
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General Plant Information (Edit)
Plant Habit: Herb/Forb
Life cycle: Perennial
Sun Requirements: Partial or Dappled Shade
Water Preferences: Mesic
Dry Mesic
Minimum cold hardiness: Zone 4a -34.4 °C (-30 °F) to -31.7 °C (-25 °F)
Maximum recommended zone: Zone 9a
Plant Height: 6-12 inches (15-30 cm)
Plant Spread: 18-24 inches
Leaves: Fragrant
Other: sweet smelling when dried
Flowers: Showy
Flower Color: White
Bloom Size: Under 1"
Flower Time: Spring
Late spring or early summer
Uses: Groundcover
Medicinal Herb
Will Naturalize
Wildlife Attractant: Bees
Resistances: Deer Resistant
Propagation: Seeds: Self fertile
Pollinators: Self

Photo by Leo Michels

Wildflowers in EuropeWildflowers in Europe
By JonnaSudenius on August 20, 2013

These are my personal views on growing plants and a little overview of some European wildflowers

(Full article22 comments)
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Posted by Bonehead (Planet Earth - Zone 8b) on Oct 13, 2014 6:56 PM

Nice little groundcover that will colonize, especially at the foot of shrubs. I don't find it overly aggressive and it is easy enough to pull where I don't want it. Blends nicely with other plants but doesn't overpower them.

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Posted by Marilyn (Kentucky - Zone 6a) on Dec 31, 2011 3:06 AM

One of my sisters gave me a start of this plant from her garden years ago, and I regretted planting it. It was invasive for me and took me years to get rid of every part of it in my garden.

I planted it on the side of our front porch, below the faucet.

Yes, the flowers are beautiful, but if you don't have the space and don't want it to take over, then I'd advise you not to plant it.

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Posted by SongofJoy (Clarksville, TN - Zone 6b) on Jan 14, 2012 11:24 AM

Sweet Woodruff is a deciduous groundcover for good soil in shade. Bright green narrow leaves are whorled around the stems looking like spokes of a wagon wheel. Clusters of star-shaped white flowers appear in late spring but the soft green foliage of this groundcover is its primary merit.

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Posted by gardengus (Indiana Zone 5b) on Jun 18, 2013 5:33 PM

Sweet woodruff is called sweet because of the foliage and not the flower.
For best fragrance, cut plant just after flowering and hang in bunches to dry. It has a fresh mown hay scent, sometimes with a hint of vanilla. In the past it was used to freshen bed linens. Today it is more often used in potpourri.

A native of England, North Africa, and western Asia

Will crowd out weeds in moist shade and grow in very dense shade. If it gets too aggressive for your garden, try moving it to a sunnier place and don't water it.

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Posted by critterologist (Frederick, MD - Zone 6b) on May 18, 2015 9:44 AM

I have this as a groundcover in an "island" bed with daffodils, daylilies, and maples. I started with a big clump from a friend. It's easy to propagate by taking starts from within the clump, as "holes" fill in quickly. I pot up pieces in 4 inch pots and plant them out the same year (in fall) or the following spring.

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Posted by cwhitt (Central Ohio 43016 - Zone 6a) on Feb 21, 2018 2:33 PM

Sweet Woodruff is a shade loving ground cover and also an herb. It grows well here in Ohio (zone 6). In the spring it gets a delicate little white flower on it. The rest of the growing season it is still quite beautiful because of the deep green small star shaped leaves. It has a lovely light fragrance, and "in the olden days" was scattered indoors on the floor as an air freshener. It also has some medicinal uses. It spreads rather slowly, and I would not call it invasive, even though I have read that, given the right conditions, it could be - but I have never run into that. Instead, I have found that forms a nice uniform cover in shady areas. It likes to be kept fairly moist, and the leaves will turn brown at the edges during drought conditions. Also, it seems to like good soil with humus. I think it is a classy little plant and it is my favorite ground cover.

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