Sweet Woodruff

Common name: Sweet Woodruff

Scientific name: Galium odoratum

Family: Rubiaceae

Uses: Aromatic, culinary, decorative, and medicinal.Sweet woodruff scents potpourris, sachets, and herb pillows. The flowers and leaves are used for teas and to flavor wine. It also is used in garlands and wreaths and to make yellow dye. It is said to have some medicinal qualities.

History: Medieval churches prepared for religious holidays by hanging sweet woodruff. It was used in sachets and garlands in early England. In Germany it is used to flavor May wine and is referred to as waldmeister meaning master of the woods

Description: The plants have thin, creeping rootstock with numerous matted, fibrous roots. The roots send up many slender stems that are square, shiny, and glabrous. The narrow dark green leaves are lanceolate and rough edged. Successive whorls of six to eight leaves grow around the stalk. The small white flowers are funnel shaped with four petals. They bloom in loose-branching cymes.

Plant type: Perennial

Hardiness: Hardiness zone 3.

Height: 8 to 10 inches

Width: 10 inches


Soil: moist, rich, well-drained soil with a pH of 5


Disease: None noted.

Cultivation: Plants are difficult to start from seeds. Since cold weather helps seeds germinate, plant in the fall to produce seedlings the following spring. It may be easier to start by division. Place sweet woodruff in humus soil. The root system will spread close to the top of the soil. Avoid damaging roots with hoes or other tools.

Companion planting: No information available.

Propagation: Division or seeds.

Flowering period: May to June

Flower color:


Garden notes: Our single plant did not grow well, so few observations are available. The plant requires partial shade and adequate moisture. It may do well shaded by trees.