Sweet Woodruff, Our Lady's Lace, Sweetscented Bedstraw
Galium odoratum

Family: Rubiaceae
Genus: Galium (GAL-ee-um) (Info)
Species: odoratum (oh-dor-AY-tum) (Info)
Synonym:Asperula odorata
View this plant in a garden

Category:

Groundcovers

Herbs

Perennials

Height:

6-12 in. (15-30 cm)

Spacing:

9-12 in. (22-30 cm)

Hardiness:

USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 C (-30 F)

USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 C (-25 F)

USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)

USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)

USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)

USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)

USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)

USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)

USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)

USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)

Sun Exposure:

Sun to Partial Shade

Light Shade

Partial to Full Shade

Danger:

N/A

Bloom Color:

White/Near White

Bloom Time:

Late Spring/Early Summer

Foliage:

Herbaceous

Aromatic

Other details:

May be a noxious weed or invasive

Flowers are fragrant

Requires consistently moist soil; do not let dry out between waterings

Soil pH requirements:

5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)

6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

Patent Information:

Non-patented

Propagation Methods:

By dividing the rootball

Seed Collecting:

Allow pods to dry on plant; break open to collect seeds

Seed does not store well; sow as soon as possible

Regional

This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

, (3 reports)

Birmingham, Alabama

Gadsden, Alabama

Little Rock, Arkansas

Magalia, California

Palo Alto, California

Roseland, California

San Francisco, California

Shingletown, California

Clifton, Colorado

Denver, Colorado (2 reports)

Littleton, Colorado

Brookfield, Connecticut

East Canaan, Connecticut

Enfield, Connecticut

Madison, Connecticut

New Haven, Connecticut

Wilmington, Delaware

Keystone Heights, Florida

Marietta, Georgia

Idaho Falls, Idaho

Oldtown, Idaho

Ashton, Illinois

Cherry Valley, Illinois

Chicago, Illinois

Hinsdale, Illinois

Homewood, Illinois

Machesney Park, Illinois

Mount Prospect, Illinois

Rockford, Illinois

Washington, Illinois

Waukegan, Illinois

Bloomington, Indiana

Fishers, Indiana

Greenwood, Indiana

Portland, Indiana

Iowa City, Iowa

Otho, Iowa

Ewing, Kentucky

Louisville, Kentucky (2 reports)

Litchfield, Maine

Scarborough, Maine

Pikesville, Maryland

Bridgewater, Massachusetts

Reading, Massachusetts

Roslindale, Massachusetts

Uxbridge, Massachusetts

Beulah, Michigan

Detroit, Michigan

Owosso, Michigan

Plainwell, Michigan

Royal Oak, Michigan

Twin Lake, Michigan

Kasota, Minnesota

Minneapolis, Minnesota

New Ulm, Minnesota

Saint Paul, Minnesota

Kansas City, Missouri

Billings, Montana

Manchester, New Hampshire

Munsonville, New Hampshire

North Walpole, New Hampshire

Lake Hopatcong, New Jersey

Plainfield, New Jersey

Whitehouse Station, New Jersey

Santa Fe, New Mexico

Berkshire, New York

Buffalo, New York

East Greenbush, New York

Eden, New York

Himrod, New York

Jefferson, New York

Wappingers Falls, New York

West Kill, New York

Boone, North Carolina

Chapel Hill, North Carolina

High Point, North Carolina

Raleigh, North Carolina

West Jefferson, North Carolina

Bucyrus, Ohio

Columbus, Ohio

Dublin, Ohio

Galion, Ohio

Glouster, Ohio

Madison, Ohio

Newark, Ohio

Oak Hill, Ohio

Painesville, Ohio

Reynoldsburg, Ohio

Warren, Ohio

Enid, Oklahoma

Ashland, Oregon

Cottage Grove, Oregon

Klamath Falls, Oregon

Portland, Oregon

Albion, Pennsylvania

Coopersburg, Pennsylvania

Easton, Pennsylvania

Lititz, Pennsylvania

Media, Pennsylvania

Norristown, Pennsylvania

West Chester, Pennsylvania

Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania

Arlington, Tennessee

Christiana, Tennessee

Clinton, Tennessee

Memphis, Tennessee

Arlington, Texas

Austin, Texas

Kaysville, Utah

Salt Lake City, Utah

Essex Junction, Vermont

Bristow, Virginia

Leesburg, Virginia

Lexington, Virginia

Spotsylvania, Virginia (2 reports)

Vienna, Virginia

Wytheville, Virginia

Bellingham, Washington

Bremerton, Washington

Kalama, Washington

Langley, Washington

Pullman, Washington

Ridgefield, Washington

Seattle, Washington (3 reports)

Spokane, Washington (2 reports)

Charleston, West Virginia

Augusta, Wisconsin

Milwaukee, Wisconsin (2 reports)

Racine, Wisconsin

Twin Lakes, Wisconsin

Watertown, Wisconsin

show all

Gardeners' Notes:

26
positives
10
neutrals
5
negatives
RatingContent
Positive

On May 9, 2015, brainknot from ENDERBY
Canada wrote:

I received a piece of a friend's Japonese anenome and it came with a bit of this plant, I planted it in a 10 ft square contained area. The sweet woodruff went through the whole are, I like it as a lovely ground cover and took chunks of it into other areas and it did well after one season. The ground beneath any soil is dry, clay, rock, etc. With some watering it did well. So if you want a ground cover, go for it, if not.....give to unsuspecting gardeners!

Positive

On Apr 30, 2015, lesleyannebrar from Washington, WV wrote:

West Virginia , all hills and we have 4 acres ,this notion of being "invasive" is one way to say it. I say it its a godsend for hard to weed banks. the aroma is wonderful and it survives our heavy clay soil and we do have hot summers. so far..its been good.

Positive

On Mar 25, 2015, Sequoiadendron4 from Lititz, PA (Zone 6b) wrote:

I planted 19 quart sized plants spring of '12 and they have multiplied tremendously. Had I known they would have been so successful, I would have bought less and saved the money. Mine are mostly planted under Rhododendron in full, dense shade. The plants benefit from a shearing after bloom. If left unsheared, they can get leggy and later in the summer, if there is a drought, they turn brown and look badly. It is fairly easy to control as the roots are only on the top 2" of soil, much like grass. I just stick in a shovel and pull some out the same way I remove sod. It's also very easy to pull up runners as you see them. It does suck up a decent amount of moisture though so I would not plant anything amongst it that needs a moist soil. Last year I cut out a couple 2'x2' mats of it ... read more

Neutral

On Jun 14, 2014, coriaceous from ROSLINDALE, MA wrote:

I find its behavior is unpredictable---in some sites it spreads aggressively and chokes out other perennials, and elsewhere it stays as a stable patch. It usually spreads too much for use among other plants in a flower bed/border. It's better used by itself as a groundcover, except I find it tends to die out in patches. With this plant, I take seriously "needs consistently moist soil".

The sweet hay scent, which I find nearly undetectable in the garden, increases on drying, and has been used to scent laundry and potpourri since medieval times.

It has also been traditionally used to flavor May wine. However, the agent responsible for the flavor/scent is Coumarin, which is converted in the body into an anti-coagulant drug/poison. It is moderately toxic.

Negative

On May 20, 2010, plantbernie from East Greenbush, NY wrote:

It's cute and it smells nice when flowering but it is so invasive and it forms a dense mat of roots that can choke out nearby plants. Wish I never planted it :(

Positive

On Apr 25, 2010, epilogue1212 from New Haven, CT (Zone 6a) wrote:

After constuction caused terrible errosion behind our house, we couldn't get anything to grow in the shady mud left over, except this plant. It is so pretty, and it spreads fast, but not out of control. I could easily remove it if needed, and I move clumps all over the yard to help it spread. I grow it on steep hills and flat paths that we walk along.

Positive

On Jun 24, 2009, nabiyerafts from Calgary
Canada wrote:

In Calgary, Alberta Canada I have planted this plant beneath my Usurian Pear and it is coming along but certainly not aggressive. It is late June and it just beginning to take hold in year 2. Hopefully next year it will have a better spring.

Negative

On Jun 3, 2009, KublaiKhan from Machesney Park, IL wrote:

This plant is terribly invasive. Not only does it spread like wildfire, but it chokes out other plants in its path. Once the horse is out of the barn, good luck getting it back in. Very difficult to control.

Positive

On Jun 1, 2009, plntsrok from Detroit, MI (Zone 6b) wrote:

We love our Sweet Woodruff. It is just outside our front door, at the base of a spruce tree. The warning, (above somewhere), of putting it within 100 ft of anything else is ludicrous. we have several other plants within 10 feet or less, (though It is in a somewhat isolated plot). You can put the dried leaves in with woolens in summertime to keep moths away.

Positive

On May 17, 2009, kcviolet from Kansas City, MO wrote:

This plant grows well in my raised herb garden, which is really a huge container (12' X 4' and 3' deep) my husband built me). It seems to keep the mosquitos away. It is easy to move, so I am putting some on the shady side of the house. Here's hoping it does as well - because there is nothing over there but some sweet bedstraw. My mom is German & she likes having this plant around, remembering it from her childhood. She calls it Waldmeister, Master-of the- woods in English.

Positive

On May 9, 2009, alzone7 from Gadsden, AL wrote:

Invasiveness of this plant may depend on variety. I LOVE mine and it spreads, but is certainly not invasive in my z7 area. It's very delicate, so it doesn't overwhelm anything, even if it grows around it. I have had some invasive weeds that look like sweet woodruff and may be a wild variety, but are lankier and much harder to control. Be sure you're getting the Galium odoratum and that it's from a reliable source.

Positive

On Apr 13, 2009, Iowafaerie from Otho, IA wrote:

I love this plant. It's delicate and pretty. Lovely ground cover under my hostas, bleeding hearts & oriental lilies on the North side of the house. I've yet to see if it drives out my columbines and astilbes but so far so good. I transpanted it to the West side of the garage last year and it's already peaking out in zone 4.

Positive

On Sep 13, 2008, gardenlady123 from Plainwell, MI (Zone 5b) wrote:

I have lots of this plant! Love it. The fragrance is wonderful in the spring. I have lots of shade gardens and this ground cover is in all of them. Have not had any problems with it choking anything out. All are getting along well.

Positive

On Aug 3, 2008, clayandrocks9 from Bristow, VA (Zone 7a) wrote:

I have had Sweet Woodruff on the east side of my house for almost four years. I planted a small flat after the second year I moved patches to help fill in the side. It has spread some but not to the point of being invasive. Now that it is established I rarely water it and it can tolerate light foot traffic. It is surrounding taller plant and acts like a living mulch.

Neutral

On Jul 12, 2008, Gabrielle from (Zone 5a) wrote:

Blooms April - May in my garden.

Neutral

On Jun 3, 2008, cruz4him from Toronto, ON (Zone 6a) wrote:

Well, let's see if I can add a Northerner's note to this (I'm in Toronto, Canada).

I just planted 6 of these under a big old tree on my townhome's front yard last night. I am hoping they do spread as it is very difficult to grow a decent patch of grass around the tree. I had to add a bag of topsoil around the tree first as I couldn't find soil deep enough for me to plant them in -- the tree roots were all in the way. I did loosen what soil I could prior to putting the topsoil on.

I'm not too worried about it's invasiveness because the cold here will kill just about everything but dandelions!!

I'll let you guys know how it goes.

Anna

Positive

On May 29, 2008, quonelle from Spotsylvania, VA wrote:

I have had this plant for at least 10 years. Some years I have a lot of it and some years very little. It's far from being invasive. It is growing under a large oak tree with lots of pebbles, small stones, and tree roots - hardly any soil. There are some happy hostas there also. None of it gets watered. This year it finally occurred to me to transplant some of it to a shady area with dicentras. So I'll see how it does there.

Neutral

On May 12, 2008, joycehome from Easton, PA wrote:

I planted two small plants in a raised bed in part shade last year. This year it is spreading rapidly, but is pretty easy to remove. I am transferring it to a treeline on the border of our property where nothing but weeds grow, hopefully it will like the clay soil there as much as the amended soil in the bed. Looks great in bloom, but watch where you put it!

Positive

On Apr 3, 2008, outdoorlover from Enid, OK (Zone 7a) wrote:

We have not found this plant to be invasive in part shade (east side of our house) in zone 7b. In fact, I wish it would spread a little more. It has spread some. It is semi-evergreen here, and is a nice ground cover. I definitely give it a positive rating.

Positive

On Jul 9, 2007, alymid from Waukegan, IL (Zone 5a) wrote:

I love this plant - but I will admit that we joke that only invasives thrive well in my yard.

I grow it in the garden space at the bottoms of my gutter outputs - one side in pretty dense shade, the other is in a mostly sunny area. The Dense shade part is doing fabulously and looks great mixed in with my bleeding hearts and columbine.

Neutral

On Nov 14, 2006, Leehallfae from Seattle, WA wrote:

I say neutral only because I'd be happier if this wonderful plant did take over the yard.

Negative

On Jun 24, 2006, MonicaG from Wallingford, PA wrote:

I wish my sweet woodruff was invasive. I planted 18 plants in a bed with 3 PJM rhododendrons. The bed is nearly full shade and circumscrbed by our deck and concrete walks so spreading was not a concern. 3 years later, there is one tiny sprig left--not a single sign of any of the other plants. The soil had been amended a full season prior to planting.

Positive

On Mar 10, 2006, PurplePetal from Fishers, IN (Zone 5a) wrote:

I planted this a few years ago in full sun on the south side of our house. I had just pulled the overgrown bushes and was replacing them with small flowering foundation shrubs so these plants didn't have nay shade. The first year they struggled to stay alive and I know that I lost a few due to the hot sun and dry conditions. The next year they came back and really took off. Last year I thought a few more had died at the end of the summer but it seems like they have come back. I can see how these could be invasive but I like that they are low maintenance. Another note is that I didn't amend my very heavy clay soil where I planted these.

Positive

On Feb 25, 2006, EAPierce from Idaho Falls, ID (Zone 5a) wrote:

I agree. The sun-shy 'Sweet Woodruff' is an herbal groundcover likely best suited for colder climates, where it won't spread too vigorously. There's some in my gardens that has been growing (divided numerous times) over a span of nearly 20 years, and has yet to require more than a few hours' management (mostly for division) per season. It also stays green underneath the snow in wintertime. Sometimes I'll clear away a square foot's worth in the fall and plant a biennial like stock or foxglove smack in the middle of it, and the Woodruff won't grow back fast enough to choke the biennial before it's had it's 2-3 year run. It's too bad that gardeners in warmer climates can't get away with that. 'Sweet Woodruf' is a real treat when it's so manageable, what with it's charming early spring b... read more

Positive

On Feb 18, 2006, sstateham from Rockford, IL (Zone 4b) wrote:

I've been growing this for years and have found it to be a good reliable groundcover for shady spots, including under black walnuts. I love the fragrance, and have not had a problem with invasive properties - just split them when they get too agressive.

Positive

On Aug 10, 2005, flowercrazy39 from Manchester, NH wrote:

I'm in zone 5 and I planted it in the shade under some large trees so it really hasn't become invasive here. It doesn't have much room to spread too much and I really love the plant. If you put it with larger shrubs and trees it can't really take over.

Neutral

On Jun 24, 2005, gregr18 from Bridgewater, MA (Zone 6b) wrote:

Makes an attractive ground cover, and behaves itself in poor to average soil. If it gets into good soil in my region (6B), it can grow out of control, and requires a lot of attention to prevent it from getting its webby roots in the way of other plants. Of the groundcovers in my area, only certain types of lamium and Waldsteinia fragarioides can compete with it.

It smells great when it blooms, and its flowers are used in Germany to flavor/scent young riesling, called Maiwein (May Wine).

Positive

On May 21, 2005, sanity101 from Dublin, OH (Zone 5b) wrote:

Spreading quickly in clay/loam soil and the shady side of part shade. So much so that it's crowding out the periwinkle. very dense atractive leaves for a ground cover, with well displayed white flowers in spring. Only downside it that it dies back in winter to leave a bare patch.

I found it very easy to pull out unwanted clumps by simply inserting my hand beneath it, as the roots are very shallow. I can imagine this might be more difficult in denser soil.

Neutral

On Nov 8, 2004, roundshm from Littleton, CO (Zone 5a) wrote:

The trick must be to grow this plant in terrible conditions. I planted three in midsummer, lost one right off the bat. The other two are holding their own. They are planted in almost full sun and very, very poor clay soil. I can bearly keep them alive and there is not danger of them invaiding anything but the compost pile if they don't make it.

Positive

On Aug 13, 2004, kadawn74 from Portland, OR (Zone 8b) wrote:

I transplanted this from my friend's house where it was growing under her deck! It is in nearly full shade, under a porch which is under an evergreen, and it has been growing wonderfully. Luckily, the front yard here is lacking, nothing but dirt (apartments-yuck) so I will have no regrets if it DOES take over. In fact, I'm hoping it will.

Positive

On Aug 3, 2004, BingsBell from SC, MT (Zone 5a) wrote:

I agree that it spreads itself readily but all I do is grab a handful and yank it out if it gets too close to a hosta, jacobs ladder, columbine or such.....It sure keeps the weeds out of the beds it is in. It seems to frame the other plants without invading them. I love the look texture and the color of this plant. I have it in shade.

Positive

On Apr 30, 2004, MaryBarrow wrote:

Zone 6b - A few sprigs planted 5 years ago.. now have put some in shade, full sun, amended and non-amended heavy clay - have found it a well-mannered ground cover....has spread wonderfully without choking anything out... beautiful looking foliage and DELIGHTFUL when flowering... flowers appear to be floating above the foliage... will try the car air freshener trick - thank you!

Positive

On Jul 8, 2003, lunavox from Seattle, WA (Zone 8b) wrote:

I love this herb. At my old house, I had it growing in poor (clay) soil, in almost full sun. This was too much sun for the little guy's liking (it lightened to yellow-green instead of staying a rich dark green), but it still bushed over the next couple of years and produced the multitude of tiny white star flowers. I never found it invasive.

A couple of sprigs thrown onto the car dash and left to dry make a wonderful vanilla-scented car freshener! The scent brings back good memories of summertime road trips. :)

Positive

On Jan 24, 2003, lupinelover from Grove City, OH (Zone 6a) wrote:

The porousity of the soil seems to be the key to this plants' invasiveness. I have planted it as a groundcover in 4 different areas. My native soil is very heavy clay. In unamended soil, sweet woodruff barely survives. In moderately amended soil, it spreads a little, but is very polite in its tendency to weave.

In very rich, humusy soil, it has obliterated several other plants, including hosta, astilbe, and is currently trying to choke out a Philadelphus (mock orange) shrub. It is even making inroads on ajuga and lamiastrum (the unimproved one). Now if I could only train it to overwhelm the poison ivy...

Positive

On Aug 4, 2002, Karenn from Mount Prospect, IL (Zone 5a) wrote:

This may be invasive if given great loam and ideal conditions, however in my zone 5A (actually 4B on the north side, where it is, I have found it to be a wonderful, good-looking ground cover around my foundation evergreens. I did NOT amend the soil when I planted (you know what midwest clay is like, I'm sure!) and it has behaved very nicely - frankly MUCH nicer than vinca, which I spent 3 years getting rid of all the runners! If you don't want it someplace, grab a shovel and dig a hunk! It's that easy! It has NOT taken over any other perennials, or bulbs that are companion planted. It seems to go around!

Negative

On Aug 2, 2002, Lizziewriter from Holmes, NY (Zone 5b) wrote:

Let me underline the invasiveness warning! My mom gave me some, as it didn't grow much at her house & it's pretty. Also if you search the herbal type pages you can find all sorts of neat herbal uses. But we have found it to be Terribly Invasive... growing over vinca, little perennial flowers, and even taking over the mint. We have it in a shady area with a little fairly decent soil over rock, and I guess it loves it. The fragile stems make it a nightmare to try & pull out, you don't get the whole root and travelling vine. Be very careful with this one!

Positive

On May 15, 2002, bmuller from Albuquerque, NM (Zone 7a) wrote:

I understand that this plant may be invasive in damp climates or sites. However, in my garden in the high desert, I'm very happy to see it spreading under a large cherry tree, where it receives more shade than many other plants like. I haven't found it detrimental to the plants nearby: aquilegia canadensis, violets (another invasive--maybe they've just called a truce!), forget-me-not, even campanula persicifolia in a small nearby bed to which the woodruff is "trickling."
It also is a nice addition (dried) to potpourri as well as pleasant(fresh)in May wine.

Negative

On May 15, 2002, anner wrote:

About seven years ago my sister decided that my garden was incomplete without sweet woodruff. For the first three years I was pleased with the ground cover and fragrance. After that the plant went nuts and began to choke off everything in its path. I am now pulling it out to save what I have left, although the plant still persists. Warning: Do not plant this invasive unless you have nothing else that will grow within a 100 ft radius. I am not exaggerating; this thing travels.

Neutral

On Apr 20, 2002, WendyC from Waterloo, ON (Zone 5b) wrote:

I have it growing in the dry shade of my "spruce grove" - 6 mature spruce trees at the back of my typical suburban lot. It's one of the few plants that actually thrives back there!

Neutral

On Aug 30, 2001, smiln32 from Oklahoma City, OK (Zone 7a) wrote:

The seed is slow to germinate, so it is best to divide
established plants in spring or fall, or to take cuttings
from mature plants and root them in a mixture of peat moss
and perlite. Space your plants 1 foot apart. Sweet
woodruff is self-sowing once established and can become a
pesky weed. Harvest the leaves in late spring before
blossoms appear; dry them upside down in a dark area. The
leaves and stems can also be frozen for later use.

Neutral

On Jan 4, 2001, lantana from (Zone 7a) wrote:

Grows in Heat Zones 8-3.