Wear Your Rue With a Difference

The delicate gray-green leaves of rue (Ruta graveolens) are a distinctive addition to the garden. This herb is not as popular as it once was, but it still has its uses. 

The Many Faces of Rue
The shape of the rue leaf was used in the original design of the suit of clubs on playing cards.It has a unique curved shape and delicate appearance that's attractively petite when planted with other herb varieties.

It was a common ingredient in counter-spells as a defense against witches, too.At one time rue was even thought to inspire creativity, which made it a favorite with artists.

Rue as an Insect Repellent
Rue has woody stems and a bushy habit. It thrives in poor soil as long as it has good sun (at least 6 hours a day). It's an excellent insect repellent both in the garden and in the home. It was once used to control fleas, and has a long history as an anti-plague herb. Rue can be used in companion planting with garlic to keep Japanese beetles away from  roses pretty effectively. Use it in your vegetable patch with catnip as a general bug repellent.  When plants get leggy, whack off  a bouquet of stems and use them indoors to discourage pests.

Tips for Growing Rue
Rue is slow to germinate, so purchase seedlings. Keep plants trimmed back because they can get spindly fast if not actively pruned.

Rue is hardy from Zones 4 through 9.

By H. Zell (Own work) [GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons