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Annual Biennial

Alliaria petiolata
  • RHS Plants for pollinators

garlic mustard

A hairy biennial herb, which can be variable in height; is usually unbranched and bears heart to kidney-shaped toothed green leaves that emit a pungent garlic odour especially when crushed. Flowers are white from 3-5mm in diameter and born in terminal clusters. Seed capsules are long and slender from 20-70mm in length

Other common names
Jack-by-the-hedge
garlic root
see moregarlic wort
hedge garlic
hedge mustard
poor man's mustard
sauce-alone
Synonyms
Alliaria officinalis
Sisymbrium alliaria

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Size
Ultimate height
0.5–1 metres
Time to ultimate height
1–2 years
Ultimate spread
0.1–0.5 metres
Growing conditions
Chalk
Loam
Sand
Moisture
Moist but well–drained
pH
Acid, Alkaline, Neutral
Colour & scent
StemFlowerFoliageFruit
Spring White Green
Summer White Green
Autumn Green
Winter Green
Position
  • Full shade
  • Partial shade
Aspect

East–facing or North–facing or West–facing

Exposure
Exposed or Sheltered
Hardiness
H6
Botanical details
Family
Brassicaceae
Native to the UK
Yes
Foliage
Evergreen
Habit
Bushy
Genus

Alliaria can be annuals, biennials or perennials, with garlic-scented, ovate or heart-shaped leaves and racemes of small, white, 4-petalled flowers in spring

Name status

Correct

How to grow

Cultivation

Prefers a rich damp alluvial soil, thriving in damp shady places where few other herbs will grow. A good woodland-edge and hedgerow plant, the plant emits a strong smell of garlic which is especially pronounced if the leaves are bruised. This species is an important food source for the orange-tip and green-veined-white butterflies

Propagation

Propagate by seed as soon as ripe. If sowing in situ, it is best to sow in autumn as it requires a long period of chilling to break dormancy

Suggested planting locations and garden types
  • Wildlife gardens
Pruning

No pruning required

Pests

Susceptible to caterpillar damage

Diseases

Generally disease-free

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