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Woodruff, also known as "fragrant bedstraw" or "Maykraut", is an old aromatic and medicinal plant. That is why collecting plants has a centuries-old tradition in this country. But where does Maykraut actually grow?

In a nutshell

  • mainly found in deciduous forests
  • Ground cover in the shade under the trees
  • also grows in the garden or in pots

In the nature

Woodruff (bot. Galium odoratum), as the name suggests, grows in the forest. In Central Europe you can find the herbaceous plant in:

  • red beech forests (most common)
  • oak-hornbeam forests
  • mixed forests
  • coniferous forests (rather rare)

Notice: May herb occurs in the mountains up to an altitude of 1,400 meters.

In these forests, Galium odoratum grows under the trees as a ground cover. The growth height of the woodruff is about 40 centimeters. Since the plant propagates via runners, you can find veritable carpets in some places.

Tip: An old saying goes: where there is a lot of evergreen, there is also a lot of woodruff to be found.


In Germany, bedstraw grows almost everywhere. This is due to the fact that the so-called woodruff-beech forests (Asperulo-Fagetum) are widespread in almost all federal states in this country. There are "white spots" of this special habitat in Brandenburg, in eastern Saxony-Anhalt, in northern Lower Saxony, in Berlin, in northern Saxony and in eastern North Rhine-Westphalia.

In the garden

An alternative to collecting the bedstraw is to grow it in your own garden. As in the great outdoors, a shady location is ideal, but half-shade is also tolerated. Ideally, they plant it:

  • in a shady garden area
  • in the shade of a cool house wall
  • under deciduous trees

The “forest floor” is a

  • humorous
  • as calcareous as possible (slightly acidic to alkaline)
  • always slightly wetter
  • more permeable

Floor. From the point of view of the woodruff, sandy loam soil is ideal.

In the pot

Giving Galium odoratum conditions that come very close to a forest in the container culture is not that easy, but it is definitely possible. As in the garden, the location should also be shady on the balcony or terrace. The pot should not be too small so that the roots have room to spread.

The substrate for the "forest floor" should

  • relaxed
  • humorous
  • calcareous
  • mixed with some beech leaves

being. To create a natural water reservoir, line the bottom and walls of the pot with clay.

Notice: In the tub culture, woodruff is not hardy and therefore needs protection from cold and frost.

To harvest

Harvest time for Maykraut, when used for food and drink, is before flowering. According to the calendar, this time falls between March and May. When grown in the garden or in a pot, give the plants time to develop in the first year and harvest Galium odoratum the following year.

frequently asked Questions

Does Maikraut also grow in raised beds?

In principle yes, but it must also be in the shade in the raised bed. For example, you can place it under taller plants or on the shady edge of the bed. You should also keep in mind that the plants form foothills and these can quickly overgrow the raised bed.

Does Galium odoratum also grow in bedstraw, beech and oak forests?

In these forests, blushing plants from the Galium genus belong to the plants of the herb layer, along with various sedges and lily of the valley. These habitats are mostly small-scale and can be found mainly in the south and central parts of Germany.

On what soil does the fragrant bedstraw grow in the forest?

In forests, woodruff prefers loose, fresh soil that is rich in bases and nutrients.

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