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How do you care for a common rue plant?

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Quick Answer

The common rue plant scientifically known as Ruta graveolens grows best in well-drained soil of neutral pH 7.0 and full sun. A hardy evergreen herb in places with milder climates, it requires minimal watering, fertilizing and care, except for the occasional trim. In colder climates, it is deciduous with the top part of the plant withering in the winter, leaving the woody base that regenerates in the spring. The plant has culinary and medicinal uses.

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Full Answer

When growing from seed, sow common rue seeds in late winter indoors, and transplant the seedlings outdoors in late spring. The plants start to flower in the summer of their second year and may flower a second time with light trimming and fertilizing. Gardeners may also propagate the common rue by dividing established plants in the spring or by rooting stem cuttings in late summer.

A native of the Balkans, the common rue can thrive in dry rocky soils that do not support most garden plants. As it can grow to heights of about two to three feet tall with attractive foliage and flowers that attract certain species of butterflies, it can be a source of cut flowers and can make good garden hedges that can be trimmed and shaped. It can also be planted in flower pots to accent outdoor locations or decorate sunny windows.

Gardeners can choose from several cultivars that vary in size and color of leaves. For example, the "Blue Beauty" and "Blue Mound" are compact varieties with bluer foliage while the "Variegata" has leaves that change appearance depending on the temperature: irregular splotchy in cool weather that turn green in mid-summer.

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