When it comes to authentically planting sunny slopes and bush edges in a natural garden, bedstraw is one of the plants of first choice. The traditional blush plant is characterized as a permanent bloomer in summer, a beguiling scented plant, an aromatic and healing herbal plant. As long as care is taken against Galium verum’s insatiable urge to spread, it will powerfully unfold its beneficial potential. The same applies to burdock leaves, from which the beneficial attributes can be elicited with little effort in the home garden, although the farmers hate it as a field weed like the plague. Unobtrusive care characterizes both wild perennials, which have bravely asserted themselves in the home garden for centuries.

Specific Properties

Botanists assign bedstraw and goosegrass to the genus Galium, which may make sense from a scientific point of view; with regard to the practical use in the home garden, there are of course clear divergences. The following brief description of the specific properties would like to shed some light into the darkness.

Real Labkraut (Galium verum)

  • Taut, upright wild perennial with a height of 20 cm to 70 cm, rarely 100 cm.
  • Golden-yellow panicles of flowers from May to September with an intense honey scent.
  • Invasive character due to surface and underground spurs.
  • Round, green stems with needle-like leaves in whorls.
  • Classic use in folk medicine for numerous ailments.
  • Important ingredient in cheese production for fermentation.
  • Trivial names: yellow forest straw, sweetheart, yellow bedstraw.

Klettenlabkraut (Galium aparine)

  • Creeping or climbing annual herbaceous plant.
  • Slightly branched, hairy stems up to 300 cm long.
  • Elongated, green leaves covered with bristles.
  • Inconspicuous, white flowers in summer in cymes.
  • Small dried fruits from June to October, 3-5 mm long.
  • Large-scale spread occurs via part fruits and seeds.
  • Traditional use as a wild vegetable and homeopathic medicinal plant.
  • Considered to be the most important field weed in cereal and rapeseed cultivation.
  • Common names: goosegrass, clovergrass, sticky bedstraw, fence weed.

Both Galium differ accordingly in many respects. This circumstance leads to differentiated requirements for care.

Cultivate real bedstraw successfully

Valuable conclusions can be drawn from the natural occurrence of Galium verum about suitable site conditions, water and nutrient requirements and possible forms of propagation. Bedstraw can be found all over Central Europe on meadows and nutrient-poor grassland as well as along the protected edges of bushes along the way. The yellow forest straw demonstrates a certain site tolerance by also settling on moor meadows. On the other hand, the wild perennial cannot be seen in locations that are too sandy.


  • Sunny and warm to semi-shady places.
  • Preferably south facing.
  • Moist to dry soil, containing loam or clay.
  • Poor in nutrients, calcareous potting soil promotes growth.

Bedstraw will therefore thrive in any good garden soil, as long as it is not overly wet and nutritious. In order for the wildflower to develop its full beauty, it is advisable to avoid locations with acidic soil. It is to be expected that the sweetweed will adapt to such conditions, but at the expense of flowering and the content of valuable ingredients.
Tip: In no time at all, bedstraw transforms a dreary, dry, calcareous grassland into a sea of ​​yellow, waving flowers.

Watering, fertilizing, cutting and wintering

  • Water occasionally only during prolonged drought.
  • In the year of planting, the water requirement is slightly higher.
  • A start fertilization with compost and horn shavings is sufficient.

If the hobby gardener is cultivating Galium verum with the aim of using the flower stalks in wildflower bouquets or in domestic floristry, additional doses of compost over the course of the season should be welcome.

  • After flowering, cut back to a hand’s breadth above the ground.
  • If the self-sowing comes in handy, the pruning is only done in late winter.
  • Real bedstraw is extremely hardy and does not require any protective measures.

Regular cleaning of withered flowers and leaves is not necessary with bedstraw. The wild perennial is not affected in its growth.


  • Easy to propagate by dividing in spring or autumn.
  • Optionally cut off rhizome pieces with 1-2 nodes and plant in the new place.
  • Alternatively, harvest the ripe seeds and sow them in a cold box from the end of March.
  • Indoor cultivation is recommended from the end of February.

Due to the effort involved, propagation by seed is not very common among hobby gardeners.
Tip: If there is still no bedstraw available in the garden for division, the garden lover can use a walk in spring to dig up a young, strong plant in the wild (not on private property).

Planting, harvesting and drying

Basically, planting yellow bedstraw does not require any special expertise. Only the invasive spread through runners in and above the ground should be prevented from the start. The use of a root barrier has proven to be effective. The waterproof, non-rotting geotextile surrounds the individual plant or a tuff of 3-5 specimens in a radius that is not too narrow. Placed about 30 cm vertically into the ground, it should definitely stick out a bit so that the above-ground runners don’t overgrow it without further ado. The beginning and end of each root barrier are overlapped and closed with special clips.
Alternatively, experienced hobby gardeners plant Galium verum in a voluminous, stable pot whose edges are high enough above the ground so that the nosy rhizomes do not climb over them.

During the entire flowering period from May to September, experienced hobby gardeners harvest the leaves and inflorescences if necessary. Ideally, the weather should be dry so that the plants are not immediately exposed to the risk of rot. Whole stalks, which add the finishing touch to a wildflower bouquet, are cut off with a knife just above the root. As a decorative ingredient for drying arrangements, they remain in small bundles upside down in a dark, dry, air-flushed place for some time.

Caring for goosegrass properly

As if to avoid encountering bedstraw, goosegrass roams in completely different places. The redness often climbs plants, trees, hedges, garden fences or even facades. If there is no climbing aid nearby, the Galium aparine crawls along the ground for meters.


  • Cleavers thrive in shady locations as well as in full sun.
  • Nitrogen and phosphorus-rich, moist to wet loamy soils are preferred.
  • Best growth at pH values ​​from 5.5 (slightly acidic) to 8.0 (alkaline).
  • Commercial soil for flowers, vegetables or herbs is suitable as a substrate in the bucket.

In horticulture, goose grass serves as a reliable indicator plant for waterlogged, compacted soil and a high nitrogen content and thus saves many a soil analysis.

watering and fertilizing

  • Galium aparine is kept constantly moist.
  • No fertilizing is necessary in the nutrient-rich garden soil.
  • Garden compost and grass clippings promote growth in poor soil.

Unlike bedstraw, cleavers do not tolerate prolonged periods of drought. In the cramped space of a planter, the substrate dries out even faster than in the bed. Resourceful hobby gardeners use a water-filled coaster as an aid for a constant water supply.

Note: When the leaves start to turn black, gooey bedstraw is a signal that it is in desperate need of water.

To cut

  • Control rampant shoots with regular pruning.
  • Cutting back close to the ground after flowering prevents seeding.

After the first frosts, the annual goosegrass dies and is composted by this time at the latest. Of course, it is not advisable to wait that long before cutting. A single plant bears up to 500 bipartite split fruits with seeds, which are spread by insects, birds, fur-bearing animals and humans. Seeds can live in the soil for a maximum of 8 years, so the reputation of Catchstraw as an invasive weed is not entirely unjustified. An early pruning counteracts this effectively.


  • The easiest method of propagation is with cuttings.
  • In early summer, cut off head cuttings that are approx. 10 cm to 15 cm long.
  • Defoliate the lower part, leaving at least 2-3 knots exposed.
  • Fill 9 cm pots with low-nutrient potting soil and plant 2/3 of the offshoots.
  • Keep constantly moist in a warm, bright place until the pot is rooted.

The young Galium aparine is then planted at the new location or in the tub and cared for like an adult plant. Deviating from this, there is a good chance that the robust and resistant cuttings will be planted directly in the bed soil to take root there. Since a higher failure rate is to be expected with this approach, the forward-looking hobby gardener uses a correspondingly higher number of offshoots.

Planting in beds, harvesting and drying

If the goosegrass is used to green a garden fence or a small wall, the self-propagated or purchased young plants are planted from the end of April/beginning of May. Beforehand, the experienced hobby gardener loosens the soil with a rake and enriches it with compost and horn shavings, depending on the condition. There is no need for drainage in the planting hole with fence herb. The poorly developed root system also makes the use of a root barrier unnecessary. It is important to note that the plants should be watered abundantly at the end so that they grow quickly.

Tip: gardeners who grow goosegrass as a medicinal and herbal plant choose to cultivate it in a tub or in a planter with a trellis. The plant’s urge to spread can be controlled much more efficiently in this way.
  • Pluck the tender leaves in spring and use them fresh in the kitchen.
  • Optionally, cut off whole stalks and then dry them.
  • Harvest the leaves individually, spread them out to dry and brew them into tea.

The list of possible applications as a kitchen and medicinal plant is long, because people have been discovering new areas of action for the blushing plant since ancient times. Since the plant is not available in winter, forward-thinking gardeners stock up on dried leaves and stems in good time.

Wild herbs, the bedstraw and goosegrass have long distanced themselves from the reputation of annoying weeds among hobby gardeners. In parallel with raising awareness of the gifts that Mother Nature has to offer for health and carefree enjoyment, people are also questioning non-everyday crops such as Galium verum and Galium aparine. Both bedstraws also thrive in places that are otherwise difficult to green without causing cumbersome maintenance. Of course, it should not be overlooked that the members of the blushing family differ quite significantly in terms of their requirements in terms of location, water and nutrient supply and reproduction.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *