The real meadowsweet catches the eye of the walker as a proud queen of the meadows, along idyllic stream banks or in light deciduous forests. If the perennial rose plant is currently dressed in its white blossoms, it exudes an intense scent of honey and almonds. These attributes already qualify Filipendula ulmaria as an ideal cast for the wet zone of the herb spiral, the greening of the garden pond or the perfecting of the cottage garden. The virtuosic character of this decorative wet zone perennial is complemented by effective ingredients such as salicylic acid, which led to the invention of the globally respected drug ‘Aspirin’. Well-known for centuries, real meadowsweet has lost none of its topicality; not least thanks to the undemanding care.


Meadowsweet can be found in the wild all over Europe wherever moisture and nutrient content dominate the general conditions of the location. Viewed from a distance, even the layman is able to identify Filipendula ulmaria using unmistakable characteristics.

  • Growth height 50 cm to 150 cm, rarely 200 cm.
  • White flowers in panicles from June to August/September.
  • In varieties with pink and yellow single to double flowers.
  • Pinnate, dark green leaves on a reddish stem.
  • Upright habit, branching upwards.
  • Creeping root system with gradually woody strands.
  • Inconspicuous fruit nuts in October with sickle-shaped seeds.
  • Hardy up to the high altitudes of the mountains.
  • Popular bee pasture and pollen supplier for hoverflies.
  • Real meadowsweet is suitable for consumption in all parts.

Hardly any other plant has been popularly given so many names: meadow queen, plume, spirea (due to the similarity), mead, St. John’s weed, (wrongly) goat’s beard, stop ass, forest beard, meadow sweet, beeweed, leg comfort. Each of the trivial names refers to an outstanding property of appearance, healing powers, or spicing or sweetening aroma in food and drink.

Cultivation and Planting

If you don’t want to miss out on the experience of cultivating meadowsweet from 1 mm small seeds to a 2 meter high wild perennial, you can choose to grow it indoors.

  • Scatter the seeds in seed compost from late January to mid-March.
  • Cover seed-thick with substrate, press down and spray with water.
  • Cover the seed tray with glass or cling film.
  • In the following 3-4 weeks keep the seed constantly moist in a warm window seat.
  • Air the cover repeatedly to prevent mold from forming.

If there is still no germination after 1 month, the seeds need a cooling period of several weeks so that the cold stimulus encourages them to do so. For this purpose, the resourceful hobby gardener fills them with moist sand in a plastic bag, which he deposits in the vegetable compartment of the refrigerator to save space. After 2 to 4 weeks, the cotyledons should stir, which is a signal for a further move back into the seed pot. Initially for a few days at 12° Celsius and then at 18° to 22° Celsius, the seedlings now thrive rapidly provided they are sufficiently supplied with water. From a growth height of 10 cm, the plants are transplanted into individual pots, where they quickly develop their own root ball.

  • Mid-May is the time to plant meadowsweet in beds and containers.
  • Deeply loosen the soil at the chosen location.
  • Compact too sandy potting soil with compost and bentonite.
  • Potting soil based on compost is ideal as a substrate in the pot.
  • Place the young plants in the soil at a distance of 40 cm to 60 cm.

The work concludes with thorough watering, whereby care must be taken that plants that have climbed up are immediately pressed back into the ground.

Note: When planting Filipendula ulmaria no drainage is used.


As long as meadowsweet is allowed to stretch out its roots in sufficiently moist and nutritious soil, the rose plant is quite flexible in relation to the other conditions at the location.

  • Seeping wet or damp soil with no water level.
  • Rich in nutrients, humic and not too dense.
  • Preferably a slightly acidic to neutral pH.
  • Sunny to semi-shady location without midday sun.

The long-lived perennial develops luxuriant growth in loamy or clayey soil that may have a light sand content. In addition, real meadowsweet easily settles in peat or swamp landscapes.

watering and fertilizing

The meadow queen should not dry out or even dry out if possible. In this case, there would be a deficit in the water balance, which only a well-established plant can compensate for.

  • Keep constantly moist, but do not drown.
  • Water daily in the morning or evening on dry summer days.
  • Fertilize repeatedly with compost during the growing season.
  • Dung and horn shavings are also well suited.
  • Strengthen in the planter or the herb spiral with liquid fertilizer.

The enormous moisture requirement makes cultivation in buckets, especially in clay pots, extremely time-consuming. If a warm summer wind causes the root ball to dry through porous material, a one-off watering per day will probably not do the trick. If you don’t want to do without the decorative effect of Filipendula ulmaria, choose a ceramic bucket and place it in a saucer that is permanently filled with water.

Tip: A well-measured layer of mulch made from grass clippings preserves the moisture in the soil and provides additional nutrients to the meadow sweet.

To cut

The intention that hobby gardeners pursue when cultivating meadowsweet determines to a large extent the rhythm of the pruning.

  • Cut Filipendula ulmaria for the herb harvest as soon as the flower appears.
  • If real meadowsweet is used as an ornamental perennial, it is cut back close to the ground in autumn.
  • If sowing is desired, the gardener trims the plant in early spring.

The flowering period of the rose plant is noticeably longer if withered leaves and flowers are regularly cut out. The small plant parts ideally remain on the ground to act as additional mulch and natural fertilizer.


Real meadowsweet in the bed or at the edge of the garden pond is content with pruning in autumn to prepare for the cold season. However, further measures for safe hibernation are required if the wild perennial is in the bucket. The degree of cold tolerance becomes insignificant when the entire root ball freezes through. The cells within the roots expand and rupture. The damage caused is irreparable, regardless of whether a plant can withstand temperatures of up to -3° or -30° Celsius.

  • If possible, hibernate Filipendula ulmaria in a tub in a frost-free room.
  • Alternatively, wrap the jar in warming bubble wrap or jute ribbon.
  • Place in a sheltered corner on wood or a styrofoam block.
  • Cover the root ball with a layer of leaves and straw to keep out the cold.

During the winter, a meadow queen evaporates considerably less water than when she is in full bloom; nevertheless, the experienced hobby gardener waters the plant on frost-free days in the bed as well as in the pot.


It seems like an iron law from Mother Nature. Plants that are undemanding in terms of care can be propagated in a completely uncomplicated manner. Real meadowsweet is no exception to this rule.

Division of the rootstock
As soon as the frost comes out of the ground in spring, the practiced hobby gardener tackles propagation by division. By now, at the latest, the shoots should have been cut back to just above the surface of the earth.

  • Loosen the root ball all around with the digging fork.
  • Then dig out the eyrie with a spade.
  • Divide the mother plant into two or more segments.
  • Each ball piece has at least 1-2 shoot buds.
  • Immediately plant in the new location and water thoroughly.

If you want to give your Filipendula ulmaria a head start in growth in the next season, divide it immediately after pruning in autumn. Since the soil still has enough warmth at this time of year, the roots have established themselves well before the first frost.

diseases and pests

Real meadowsweet develops a robust resilience and healthy vitality in the right location with careful care, which makes it difficult for diseases and pests to spread. Of course, the garden lover should not feel completely safe, because among the butterflies, the caterpillars of a moth have specialized on the Filipendula ulmaria as a food plant:

Meadowsweet Fritillary
The enchanting beauty of the adult butterflies with yellow-orange wings and filigree, black markings easily hides the shameful doings of their brood. From the end of May to mid-June, the caterpillars, which are up to 25 mm long, attack the blossoms and leaves of meadowsweet species. Because of the white, gray and brown vertical stripes, studded with yellow-white thorns, the pests are easily recognizable with the naked eye. The nocturnal caterpillars can be easily collected in the early morning. Further control does not seem necessary so far, since they only occur in low concentrations over a short period of time and butterflies are becoming less and less common in the wild anyway.

From time to time aphids visit meadowsweet and colonize the leaves of the wild perennial. Surrounding each plant with a ring of coffee grounds from spring has proven effective as a preventive measure, which also counteracts slugs at the same time. If an infestation does occur, knowledgeable gardeners first use an ecologically compatible spray. The ingredients consist of 1 liter of water, 15 ml of curd soap without additives and 15 ml of spirit. However, if applied repeatedly and in good time, the mixture combats aphids in an environmentally friendly manner.

harvest and drying

A meadow sweet has the highest content of valuable ingredients shortly after the flower is in full bloom. The stems are cut off close to the ground with a sharp knife. However, if you hang it upside down in a dark, warm, airy place with the help of a string, the drying process is particularly quick. When real meadowsweet crackles and rustles, the hobby gardener plucks off the leaves and flowers to store them in a dark screw-top jar in the cool basement until needed.
The magical leaves and flowers can also be frozen. An ice cube tray, from which small portions can later be easily removed, proves to be extremely practical.

As the proud queen of meadows, real meadowsweet impressively holds court in natural gardens, in ornamental beds, in tubs and along the pond. If the soil has enough water, Filipendula ulmaria hardly needs any significant care. A little compost every now and then and a plucky pruning at harvest or in autumn are enough for the magical wild perennial with its amazing healing powers to appear again in the next season.

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