Rue, Herb of Grace, Kitty Scat (Ruta graveolens)

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A low maintenance selection and a great choice for beginner gardeners, ‘Kitty Scat’ is a small evergreen bush with aromatic, blue-green foliage (that borders on being “stinky”) with cup-shaped, yellow flowers that bloom in late summer. Sometimes Rue plants are placed among other bushes such as roses or raspberry brambles or compost piles to keep away insects and small animals, but even the deer turn their noses up at this herb. This easy to grow plant doesn’t mind poor soil, so don’t overdo it with compost or fertilizer. Is a host to Giant Swallowtail Butterfly caterpillars.


A natural feline repellent. Small amounts may be used to give a unusual musky flavor to cream cheese, egg and fish dishes. Wash fruits, vegetables and herbs thoroughly before eating.

Plant Feed

Not necessary.


Allow soil to dry between thorough waterings.


Gritty, sharply drained soil.

Basic Care Summary

Tolerates poor soil, heat, and drought. Best if planted in gritty, sharply drained soil. Wear gloves when handling.

Planting Instructions

Perennial herbs can be planted anytime from spring through fall. Plant annual herbs in the spring.

Herbs are ideal for containers. Pots can be brought indoors for the winter and placed near a sunny window for a continuous harvest year-round.

Watering Instructions

New plantings should be watered daily for a couple of weeks. After that, depending on the weather and soil type, watering may be adjusted to every two or three days. Clay soils hold moisture longer than sandy soils, so expect to water more frequently in sandy settings.

Different plants have different water needs. Some plants prefer staying on the dry side, others, like to be consistently moist. Refer to the plant label to check a plant’s specific requirements.

Thoroughly soaking the ground up to 8” (20 cm) every few days is better than watering a little bit daily. Deep watering encourages roots to grow further into the ground resulting in a sturdier plant with more drought tolerance.

To check for soil moisture, use your finger or a small trowel to dig in and examine the soil. If the first 2-4” (5-10cm) of soil is dry, it is time to water.

Plants in containers can dry out quickly, depending on the weather, and may need water more frequently than plants in the garden bed. Apply water at the soil level if possible to avoid wetting the foliage. Water the entire soil area until water runs out the base of the pot. This indicates that the soil is thoroughly wet.

Fertilizing Instructions

Herbs planted in the garden don’t require additional fertilizer. Apply a 1-2” (3-5cm) layer of mulch or compost annually. As mulch breaks down it supplies nutrients to the plants and improves the overall soil condition at the same time.

Herbs in containers can be fed lightly with a general purpose fertilizer at half the rate suggested on the package directions.

Pruning Instructions

Invest in a good, sharp hand pruner or knife for harvesting. Pinching the stems off can cause damage to the main plant.

Herbs can be harvested throughout the growing season to be used fresh, dried, or frozen. It’s best not to prune more than 50% of the foliage at one time. This keeps the plant healthy and producing new growth for continuous harvesting.

Unless you are growing an herb specifically for its flowers (such as lavender), or seed production (such as fennel), it is best to remove flower buds as they appear. This keeps the plant’s energy focused on foliage production instead of blooms and seeds.

Harvest herbs in the morning, when the plant oils are at their peak. Prepare herb cuttings for use by gently washing and drying the foliage. If planning to preserve the herbs, check foliage for insects or eggs as well. Herbs can be dried or frozen for future use. The general rule for use in cooking is: use twice as much fresh or frozen herb as compared to dried herb.

Harvest seeds when the flowers start to fade and turn brown, but before the seeds fall from the plant.

Do not prune plants after September 1st. Pruning stimulates tender new growth that will damage easily when the first frosts arrive. Once plants have died to the ground they are easy to clean up by simply cutting back to about 4” (10cm) above the ground.

Perennial herbs should be dug up and divided every 2-3 years. This stimulates healthy new growth and provides new plants to expand the garden or share with gardening friends.

Plant Details
Category: Herb
Available Colors: Yellow
Bloom Time: Summer
Height Range: 30-36" (76-91cm)
Space Range: 18-24" (46-61cm)
Lowest Temperature: -20° to -10°F (-29° to -23°C)
Plant Light: Sun to Part Shade
Companion Plants: Russian Sage, Coriander, Lavender
USDA Zone: 5-8

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