Sweet Woodruff (Galium odoratum)

Sweet woodruff blooming

Galium odoratum (Sweet Woodruff) is a herbaceous perennial that grows 12-20 in tall. The leaves have lanceolate shape and form whorls of 6-9. Flowers are white, small have four petals and produced in cymes in spring It is a vigorous plant, spreads by barely submerged perimeter stolons and by rooting in places where stems touch the ground. Prefers partial to full shade. Excellent as groundcover under the trees. Although it prefers acidic soil it grows in clay that was somewhat ammended. Best used as a groundcover in woodland areas, or as underplanting under the trees and shrubs. Do not put it into the perennial bed, it will take over and spread like a weed. Plant is fragrant when dried - sweet smell that reminds fresly cut hey. Sweet woodruff is easy to propagate by digging perimeter stolons or crown division. It is deer and pests resistant.

Plant profile summary:

Name  Galium odoratum (Sweet Woodruff)
Zone/ Sunset Zone  4-8
Type:  herbaceous perennial
Size/shape:  12-20 in tall, spreading by perimeter stolons forming mat
Life Span:  long
Foliage/ Flower/ Fruits Type/ Color The leaves have lanceolate shape and form whorls of 6-9.  Flowers are small, white color and producd in cymes.
Sun/ wind Exposure:  Partial shade to full shade. Can also take some partial sun in the morning
Water requirements:  regular
Soil requirements:  acidic soil, rich with organic matter, moist but well drained
Use:  as groundcover under the trees and shrubs, edging along paths
Attractions – special features:  dried foliage has sweet fragrance and commonly used as insect repellent and in potpourris
Pests / Diseases:  n/a
Trimming  n/a


In my garden it is planted in 2 different locations. One is under the weeping maple tree where the soil has been raised and is a mix of topsoil, peat moss and good garden soil. It gets morning sun and in the shade afternoon. In this conditions Sweet woodruff is growing like crasy. Since that area is bordered by concrete patio from one side and bend-a-board from another it is contained. The other place is under the peach tree, partial sun and the soil is clay with a little bit garden soil on top. It grows there slower and does not spread as rapidly, but looks nice and happy.

Sweet woodruff under the peach tree

Planted under peach tree

Sweet woodruff under Japanees maple

Planted under Japanees maple