Sweet Woodruff

Galium odoratum

Family: Woodruff

Type: Perennial

Other Common Name: Asperula

Sweet Woodruff, scientifically known as Galium odoratum, is a charming, low-growing perennial. It’s renowned for its delicate white flowers and fragrant, bright green leaves.

This plant is a favorite for shady gardens. It thrives in cool, woodland settings, making it an excellent ground cover under trees or in other shaded areas.

Sweet Woodruff is not only valued for its appearance but also for its sweet, hay-like fragrance, especially when dried. It has been used historically in potpourris and traditional herbal medicines.

Needs & Preferences

Hardiness Zone: 2b-4a

Deer Resistant: Yes

Pet Friendly: Yes

Moisture Preference: Average to moist

Sun Needs: Partial shade to shade


Growth Rate: Fast

Average Height (feet): 0.5

Average Spread (feet): 2

Average Life Span (years): 10

Form: Spreading


Flower Color: White

Flower Shape: Star

Bloom Season: In mid spring

Foliage Color: Green

Foliage Shape: Narrow

Landscaping Your Yard With Sweet Woodruff

Incorporating Sweet Woodruff into your landscape brings a lush, verdant feel to shaded areas. Its carpet-like growth habit makes it perfect for filling in under trees or along shaded walkways.

Use it as a natural weed suppressant. Its dense growth can help choke out weeds, reducing the need for manual weeding.

Sweet Woodruff is ideal for creating a serene, green backdrop in shade gardens. Its uniform texture and color provide a calming, cohesive look.


Suitable Garden Styles

Woodland Garden

Sweet Woodruff is a natural fit for woodland gardens. Its preference for dappled shade and rich, moist soil complements the understory environment of a wooded area.

Cottage Garden

In cottage gardens, Sweet Woodruff can be used as a ground cover to create a quaint, rustic feel. Its delicate flowers and fragrant leaves add to the charm of this garden style.

Formal Shade Garden

For formal shade gardens, Sweet Woodruff provides a neat, green carpet. It brings elegance and a sense of order to shaded garden beds and borders.

Sweet Woodruff Landscaping Ideas

Plant around the base of trees. Its ability to grow in tree shade makes it an excellent choice for underplanting.

Combine with other shade-loving perennials. Sweet Woodruff complements plants like hostas and ferns, adding texture and fragrance.

Use in shaded rock gardens. It can soften the hard edges of rocks and provide a continuous mat of green throughout the shaded areas.

Seasonal Interest


In spring, Sweet Woodruff is covered in a profusion of tiny white flowers. The plant comes alive, creating a delicate, lacy appearance under the awakening garden canopy.


During the summer, Sweet Woodruff maintains its lush green foliage. It stays relatively low to the ground, providing a cool, verdant carpet in shaded areas.


In fall, the growth of Sweet Woodruff slows down. The plant remains green but may start to die back as the weather cools, preparing for winter dormancy.


In winter, Sweet Woodruff goes dormant, especially in colder climates. It may disappear from view, but its root system remains alive, ready to regrow in the spring.

Planting Tips

Where to Plant

Sweet Woodruff excels in shaded or partially shaded areas. It is ideal for planting under trees, along north-facing walls, or in any part of the garden that receives limited direct sunlight.


This plant thrives in partial to full shade. Too much direct sunlight can scorch the leaves and diminish its vigor.


Sweet Woodruff prefers moist, well-drained soil rich in organic matter. It can tolerate a range of soil types but grows best in soil that stays consistently damp.


Space plants about 8 to 12 inches apart. This allows for their spread, forming a continuous carpet-like growth over time.

When to Plant

The best time to plant Sweet Woodruff is in the spring or early fall. This timing allows the plants to establish themselves during milder weather.

How to Plant

Plant at the same depth as the container they were grown in. Water well after planting and consider adding a layer of organic mulch to retain moisture and suppress weed growth.

Plant Care Tips


Keep the soil consistently moist, especially in the first growing season. Once established, Sweet Woodruff is somewhat drought-tolerant but prefers a damp environment.


Fertilize lightly in the spring with an all-purpose fertilizer. Sweet Woodruff does not require heavy feeding.


Pruning is generally not necessary, but you can trim back the plant to maintain its shape or control its spread.

By Season


Spring Care

In spring, remove any dead foliage and apply a light fertilizer. Ensure the plant is well-watered, especially if the spring is dry.

Summer Care

During summer, monitor soil moisture and water during extended dry periods. Sweet Woodruff requires minimal care in summer.

Fall Care

In fall, reduce watering as the plant begins to go dormant. A layer of mulch can be added for winter protection.

Winter Care

Sweet Woodruff is dormant in winter. In colder climates, it may die back to the ground but will re-emerge in spring.


How Fast Does Sweet Woodruff Spread?

Sweet Woodruff spreads at a moderate pace, forming a dense mat over time. It can fill in spaces within a couple of growing seasons.

Is Sweet Woodruff Deer Resistant?

Yes, Sweet Woodruff is generally deer-resistant. Its fragrance and texture make it unappealing to deer.

Can Sweet Woodruff Be Grown in Containers?

While typically used as a ground cover, Sweet Woodruff can also be grown in containers, especially if the container is kept in a shaded area and the soil is kept moist.

Products That Feature This Plant

Charming Divide
Summer Breeze

Subscribe to get a free garden blueprint

Get the latest tips, trends, and inspiration delivered straight to your inbox.
Subscribe today, pick a free garden blueprint you like, and grow with us!

You have successfully subscribed to our newsletter!

A big thank you for subscribing to the PBN Design newsletter.

We're thrilled to have you join our community. Get ready for exciting updates, insightful content, and more delivered straight to your inbox.

Stay tuned!

Go back

You have successfully subscribed to our newsletter!

A big thank you for subscribing to the PBN Design newsletter.

We're thrilled to have you join our community. Get ready for exciting updates, insightful content, and more delivered straight to your inbox.

Stay tuned!

Go back