Rue not as pop­u­lar as it used to be

But it does look good and still has its uses do­mes­ti­cally as pest re­pel­lent

Central Otago Mirror - - GARDENING -

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.

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