Rue not as popular as it used to be
But it does look good and still has its uses domestically as pest repellent
handful of leaves and place them in a jar. Cover with vinegar, screw on the cap and let it sit for about six weeks. Strain into a spray bottle and clean benches and other surfaces with it. Rue is equally effective at keeping bugs at bay. In the past, the water in which rue had been boiled was sprinkled around the home to keep out fleas. That’s led to the concoction of current-day treatments for fleas. But it’s not just fleas that are sent packing. In her book PestRepellent Plants, Australian garden writer and author Penny Woodward says rue also repels other bugs. ‘‘Manure heaps, stables, barns and chook houses with rue growing nearby will not attract as many flies. Sprigs of rue spread around the house will also repel cockroaches, fleas and silverfish – they are most effective when used fresh.’’ Penny also tells me that rue works well against cats. Just lay the branches on the ground where the cats are being a nuisance, she says. Kings Seeds, which sells rue seeds, writes, ‘‘Dogs and cats hate it so if neighbourhood pets are a problem, plant rue to deter them.’’ Rue is easy to grow, either from seed or seedling. It’s a hardy evergreen perennial that grows up to 80cm high. It produces a mass of small yellow flowers in summer through to autumn. Plant in an open, sunny or semishaded situation in free-draining, not-too-rich soil. Rue grows very well in poor or gravelly soils. Give plants a haircut in spring to keep them bushy, and take cuttings of new shoots in spring or early summer. And remember, play it safe and wear gloves whenever handling rue.
Less seen: Rue is not a common sight in gardens these days.