Learning Download: How to Grow Rue
It is now known that medicinal uses for rue can even be dangerous and even toxic, but the plant’s strong scent can repel many pests and make it a good companion plant in the garden. The rue herb is semi-woody and can be pruned. The herb can reach up to 3 feet tall. In addition to deterring smaller pests, it also deters deer from the garden.
Before Planting: Once temperatures reach 70 degrees on average, it is time to plant rue. Find a barren area of the garden in full sun with well-draining soil and turn the soil with a shovel. Rake it smooth.
Planting: Scatter rue seeds across the surface of the soil and then gently press the seeds into the soil with your
hands. The seeds should germinate in up to 28 days.
Watering: Rue is drought tolerant so it rarely needs watered. Add a mulch of hay or cut up leaves around the plants to control weeds and retain water. Water deeply every three weeks. Over-watering can cause root rot.
Fertilizer: Rue doesn’t require amendments to the soil prior to planting as it is a very hardy plant. In the early spring, once new growth begins, apply a complete fertilizer with equal portions of nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium. Use a granular fertilizer and apply 2 pounds of fertilizer per each 1,000 feet of soil.
Days to Maturity: Rue is ready to be harvested before its flowers are about to bloom. (See variety for days to maturity)
Harvesting: Take care when harvesting rue, as its sap can irritate the skin and leave rashes. Once harvested, rue can be used as an insect repellent.
Tips: During its growing season, remove and discard any branches or leaves that become a different color or wilt. In the fall, cover the plants with 24 inches of protective mulch, such as leaves. Although the plant is very hardy, it does require winter protection. In the spring, cut back the branches, as this encourages new growth.