Tips and Guidelines for Successfully Cultivating Rue Plants


Rue, also known as Ruda or Rue (Ruta graveolens), is a winterhardy perennial herb that has been used for centuries for its medicinal properties. It is a highly beneficial plant to have in your garden, as it not only adds color and texture with its blue-green foliage, but it also attracts beneficial insects like butterflies and bees.

When it comes to growing Rue, there are a few important rules to keep in mind. First, it is best to start with young rue plants rather than seeds. Rue seeds can be slow to germinate and require cold stratification, so it is easier and faster to start with young plants. Plus, the young plants are less likely to be damaged by pests and diseases.

Rue can be grown from seeds, but it is important to note that this plant breeds true, meaning that the offspring will be the same as the parent plant. So if you have a great rue plant in your garden, you can propagate it by taking cuttings or dividing the plant. This way, you can ensure that you have the same great rue plant for years to come.

Rue is native to the Mediterranean region and is well adapted to grow in dry, sunny conditions. It is an evergreen perennial, meaning that it stays green throughout the year. In colder climates, rue may die back in the winter, but it will quickly regrow in the spring. It is hardy in USDA zones 4 to 9, although it can be grown as an annual in colder zones.

Rue has a strong, pungent smell that some people find unpleasant. However, this strong smell is what makes it a great plant for natural pest control. Many insects, including mosquitoes, ants, and aphids, are repelled by the scent of rue. So if you plant rue near your walkways or outdoor seating areas, it can help keep these pests at bay.

Another important rule for growing rue is to provide it with well-drained soil. Rue does not like to have wet feet, so it is important to plant it in soil that drains well. If your soil is heavy clay, you may need to amend it with organic matter, such as compost or aged manure, to improve drainage. Rue also prefers a slightly alkaline soil pH, so adding lime to the soil can help create the ideal growing conditions.

Rue is a low-maintenance plant that requires minimal care once established. It is drought-tolerant and can survive on less water than many other plants. However, it will benefit from regular watering during dry spells, especially if planted in containers or in sandy soil. It is also a good idea to fertilize rue with a balanced organic fertilizer in the spring to promote healthy growth.

Harvesting rue is simple. You can start harvesting the leaves as soon as the plant has enough foliage to spare. Simply cut off the leaves you need, leaving at least one-third of the plant intact so it can continue to grow. Rue leaves can be used fresh or dried for culinary and medicinal purposes.

It is worth noting that rue is considered to be a poisonous plant. It contains compounds that can cause skin irritation and sensitivity to sunlight. Therefore, it is important to handle rue with care and avoid touching your face or eyes after handling the plant. If you have pets or small children, it may be best to avoid growing rue in your garden.

In conclusion, Rue is a versatile and attractive plant that is often overlooked in the garden. It has many beneficial qualities, from its strong-smelling foliage that repels pests to its beautiful flowerheads that attract butterflies. By following these simple rules for growing rue, you can enjoy the beauty and benefits of this plant in your own garden.

How to Grow and Care for Rue

Rue is a simple and low-maintenance herb that can be easily grown in your garden. It is commonly used in various culinary dishes for its unique flavor. However, it is important to note that rue is phototoxic, which means that its sap can cause skin irritation when exposed to sunlight.

When planting rue, make sure to choose a well-drained soil in a sunny location. It prefers a soil that is not too rich, so poor soil varieties work well. You can start growing rue from seeds or young plants. If planting from seeds, sow them in rows in early spring or fall. Cover the seeds lightly with soil and water them regularly until they sprout.

Once the rue plants are fully mature, they will grow into small shrubs with blue-green foliage. The leaves are fine and delicate, but the plant itself can reach a height of 2 to 3 feet. Rue plants do not require much watering, as they are drought-tolerant. Watering once or twice a week should be sufficient.

To harvest rue, wait until the plants have become mature and developed seedheads. This usually happens in late summer or early fall. Cut the seedheads off and hang them upside down in a cool, dry place to allow the seeds to fully dry. Once dry, you can collect the seeds and store them for future use.

It is worth mentioning that rue is known to repel certain pests, such as bugs and swallowtail butterflies. However, it is also important to note that rue is toxic to many animals and wildlife, so it should be planted away from areas where livestock or pets roam.

Rue has several horticultural uses and is commonly used in Italian dishes for its aromatic flavor. However, it is important to use it sparingly, as the taste can be overpowering if used in large quantities. It is also commonly used in Balkan cuisine and represents an essential herb in those regions.

Although rue has many benefits and uses, it is important to handle it with caution due to its phototoxic and poisonous traits. Make sure to wear gloves and protect your skin when handling rue plants or their parts.

In conclusion, growing and caring for rue is fairly straightforward. Just keep in mind the rules of planting in well-drained soil, watering sparingly, and harvesting at the right time. With proper care, rue plants can thrive and become a beautiful addition to your garden.

What is Rue Plant or Ruda Plant

The rue plant, also known as ruda plant, is a perennial herb that originates from the Mediterranean. It is a member of the family Rutaceae and is grown within gardens and cultivated spaces for its many uses. Rue has a long history of use and is believed to have been used since ancient times.

This herb is known for its blue-green foliage and small, yellow flowerheads that bloom in the summer. It can grow up to two feet tall and is often propagated by seeds or cuttings. Rue plants are known to be invasive, so it’s important to be careful when growing them in your garden.

Rue is a winterhardy herb, and it can withstand cold weather conditions. However, it is said to be less hardy in areas with excessive rainfall. It is best to grow rue in well-draining soil and provide it with ample space to avoid any potential issues caused by overwatering.

The rue plant has many uses. It is often used in cooking as a seasoning, adding a unique flavor to dishes. However, it should be used in moderation as its strong taste can easily overpower other flavors. In addition to its culinary uses, rue has also been used for medicinal purposes. It is believed to have beneficial properties for the digestive system and can be used as a natural insect repellent.

Rue plants are also known to attract swallowtail butterflies, making them a popular choice for those looking to attract these beautiful insects to their garden. However, it’s important to note that rue can be toxic to livestock, so it should be kept away from areas where animals graze.

In conclusion, rue, or ruda, is a versatile herb with a long history of use. It is a winterhardy plant that can withstand cool weather conditions. The foliage is blue-green, and the flowerheads are small and yellow. Rue can be grown in gardens or containers, but care should be taken to avoid overwatering. It is a beneficial herb with culinary and medicinal uses and can also attract swallowtail butterflies.

How to Plant Rue in The Garden

Rue, scientifically known as Ruta graveolens, is a perennial herb that is commonly propagated from seeds or cuttings. If you want to add this strong-smelling plant to your garden, here is a guide on how to plant rue:

1. Choose the right location: Rue is native to the Mediterranean region, so it thrives in hot and dry climates. It prefers well-drained soil and full sun. Make sure to select a spot in your garden that receives at least six hours of direct sunlight daily.

2. Planting seeds: If you are starting with seeds, sow them directly into the garden in spring after the danger of frost has passed. Space the seeds about 12 inches apart in rows. Once the seedlings sprout, thin them to a distance of 18 inches apart.

3. Planting cuttings: Another way to propagate rue is by using cuttings. Take a 4-inch cutting from an established rue plant, remove the lower leaves, and plant it in a container filled with well-draining soil. Keep the soil moist until roots develop, and then transfer the rooted cutting to the garden.

4. Care for rue plants: Rue plants are relatively easy to care for. They are evergreen in milder climates, while in colder regions, they may die back in winter. To ensure their survival, water them regularly but avoid overwatering. Rue is drought-tolerant and prefers to be on the drier side.

5. Fertilising: Rue doesn’t require much fertilising. However, if you want to give your plants a nutrient boost, apply a balanced organic fertiliser in early spring.

6. Pruning: Pruning rue plants is not necessary, but you can trim them back in late winter or early spring to maintain their shape and promote bushiness.

7. Harvesting: You can harvest rue leaves and flowerheads throughout the growing season. Make sure to wear gloves while handling the plant because the foliage can cause skin irritation. Harvesting should be done in moderation to allow the plant to continue growing strong.

8. Uses for rue: Rue has a long history of uses. It was originally cultivated for its medicinal properties and is still used today in some herbal remedies. In the garden, rue is known to attract swallowtail butterflies while repelling other insects. It can also be used in cooking to add flavor to dishes, but use it sparingly as the strong taste can overpower other flavors.

Note: Rue can be invasive in some areas, so make sure to check if it is an issue in your zone before planting.

In conclusion, growing rue in the garden can be a rewarding experience. Its evergreen nature, drought tolerance, multiple uses, and ability to attract beneficial insects make it a perfect addition to any garden.

✿ Read More: Gardening Tips and Advice.

Dr Heidi Parkes

By Dr Heidi Parkes

Senior Information Extension Officer QLD Dept of Agriculture & Fisheries.