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1/5

Rue

Ruta graveolens

Witchbane, Herb of grace, Mother of herbs, Garden Rue, German Rue, Herbygrass, Ruta

1/5

A yellow-flowered, ornamental, woody herb with pungent blue-grey leaves, known to be a butterfly magnet and good companion plant, but unloved by cats and dogs. Rue belongs to the same family as oranges, kumquats and grapefruit. Low maintenance plant that is ideal for beginner gardeners.

Planning

Difficulty
Easy
Fruiting time
Spring, Summer

Harvesting

Harvest leaves just before the flowers open. Harvest with care (wear gloves) as leaf sap may cause skin rashes. To harvest seeds, wait till they have dried on the plant. Clean and store.

Propagation

Cuttings
Plant in peat-rich soil in Autumn in moist sand.
Seed
Seeds need light to germinate, so sow on the surface, in full or partial sun, spaced 50cm apart. Germination within 28 days, but flowers only appear in the second year.
Division
Rue can propogate through division of roots, but only when the plant is at least 10cm high.

Special features

Repels harmful insects
Rue keeps pest bugs away by emitting a strong odor that will camouflage the smell of vegetables. Plant it to repel fruit flies in orchard. Dried leaves act as insect repellant.
Attracts useful insects
Butterflies love Rue. Black and Giant swallowtails lay their eggs on Rue and their caterpillars feed off it.
Hedge plant
Rue has semi-woody branches that make for easy pruning and shaping into a rounded mass. Shows off nicely next to light coloured flowers or as a border. Good in a rock garden.
Pot plant
An attractive pot plant with its blue-green leaves that make a feature. Keep one near your kitchen window to scare flies away.

Geography

Origin
Turkey. Since ancient times a culinary herb in Greece and Rome, also carried around to ward off withches ("witchbane"). Curiously, brides also put a sprig of Rue in the wedding bouquets. Still used in North African cooking and considered the national herb of Lithuania.
Natural climate
Warm to hot

Environment

Light
Full Sun
Soil moisture
Moist
Soil type
Loam, Sand
Soil PH preference
Neutral
Frost hardiness
Hardy

Uses

Medicinal
Although it contains rutin that is good for circulation, research showed that Rue can be dangerous, so it is not really a safe remedy. Essential oils are used in perfume and food flavouring. Red dye.
Edible
Leaves are edible, but bitter and also slightly toxic. Should only be used sparingly.
Notes
Medicinal, insect repellant

Personality

Family
Rutaceae
Flower colour
Yellow with a green center., Yellow
Scent
Strong

Problems

Monarch butterflies and aphids plague Rue. Infected leaves should be removed. Root fungus can be a problem if soil is too wet.

Companion plants

Strawberries, tomatoes, fruit trees

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