Ruta graveolens is 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 grapefruits, Rutaceae is commonly known as the rue or citrus family. This is a low maintenance plant that is ideal for beginner gardeners. It has many common names including common rue, rue, mother of herbs and witchbane.
How to harvest Rue
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.
How to propagate Rue
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.
Rue can propogate through division of roots, but only when the plant is at least 10cm high.
Plant in peat-rich soil in autumn in moist sand.
Special features of Rue
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.
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.
An attractive pot plant with its blue-green leaves that make a feature. Keep one near your kitchen window to scare flies away.
Attracts useful insects
Butterflies love Rue. Black and giant swallowtails lay their eggs on Rue and their caterpillars feed off it.
Other uses of Rue
Medicinal, insect repellant. A drought-resistant plant that suits coastal or Mediterranean climate gardens. It also can be included in the borders/beds of urban courtyards or wall side borders of cottage gardens.
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.
Leaves are edible, but bitter and also slightly toxic. Should only be used sparingly.