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A picture of a Rue


Ruta graveolens

Also known as

Common Rue, Herbygrass, Mother Of The Herbs, Herb-Of-Grace, Wynruit (Afr.), Herb of grace

Ruta graveolens-IMG 4218 by C T Johansson (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Full Sun
Easy care
Moderate watering
Frost Hardy


USDA zone


Minimum temperature

Expected size









  • spring
  • summer
  • autumn
  • winter

This plant has a mild fragrance

More images of Rue

A close up of some yellow Ruta graveolens flowers
Some yellow Ruta graveolens flowers in the grass
Some yellow Ruta graveolens flowers with green leaves in a field
A close up of a yellow Ruta graveolens flower with green leaves

Rue Overview

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.

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.

Drought resistant

Attracts useful insects

Butterflies love Rue. Black and giant swallowtails lay their eggs on Rue and their caterpillars feed off it.

Ground cover

Attracts butterflies

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.

Plants for Summer Cuttings

Some of the many plants which you can take semi-ripe cuttings from in summer.

A photo of Mugwort


Artemisia spp.

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Plants to Deter Cats

Use these plants to dissuade cats from disturbing certain areas in your garden.

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