Growing Guide
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Sweet Woodruff

Herbaceous Perennial Flower, Herb, Ground Cover

Also known as Bedstraw, Sweet-scented bedstraw
Galium odoratum
Rubiaceae Family

A delicate, scented woodland groundcover with tiny white blooms and unique umbrella-like foliage. Grows and spreads easily on moist, shady sites.

Site Characteristics
  • part shade
  • full shade
Full sun may cause plants to go dormant in summer and scorch foliage.

Soil conditions:

  • tolerates acid soil
  • requires well-drained soil
  • tolerates damp soil
Prefers rich soil kept moist but not soggy. Tolerates wide range of pH from 4.3 to 8.3, but prefers slightly acid soil.

Hardiness zones:

  • 5 to 8
Some sources report hardy to Zone 4 and even Zone 3.
Plant Traits

Lifecycle: perennial

Ease-of-care: easy

Height: 0.5 to 1 feet

Spread: 0.75 to 1.5 feet

Spreads indefinitely by creeping roots and self-seeding to form a low mat.

Bloom time:

  • late spring
  • early summer
  • mid-summer

Flower color: white

Foliage color: medium green

Leaves are arranged in umbrella-like whorls around the stem.

Foliage texture: medium


  • low and trailing
  • spreading mass

Shape in flower: same as above

Special Considerations
Special characteristics:
  • deer resistant
  • aggressive - Under optimum conditions spreads rapidly by slender creeping rhizomes and self-seeding, but other plants can come up through the foliage.
  • non-invasive
  • not native to North America - Native to Europe
  • fragrant - Flowers and leaves have a sweet scent of newly mown hay.
Special uses:
  • naturalistic garden
Growing Information
How to plant:

Propagate by seed, cuttings, division or separation - If saving seed for next year, current year's seed should be fully ripe in July or August. Stratify seeds (expose to cold) to increase germination percent. Sow in spring.

Make softwood cuttings in the spring.

Divide in spring or fall. When dividing small clumps, keep roots moist.

Maintenance and care:
Keep soil moist to prolong growth into summer. Often goes dormant or dies back in hot, dry weather, but rebounds with a flush of growth in fall. As a ground cover, makes an excellent carpeting for bulbs.

More growing information: How to Grow Perennials

No serious problems.
No serious problems, though occasional:

Leaf spot