Alliaria petiolata

Family: Brassicaceae

Countries: Afghanistan, Africa, Albania, Algeria, Asia, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Bulgaria, Corsica, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, England, Europe, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Himalayas, Hungary, Iceland, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Italy, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Middle East, Myanmar, Nepal, Netherlands, North Korea, Norway, Pakistan, Palestine, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Scotland, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Tadzhikistan, Tibet, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Uzbekistan, Wales, Yugoslavia

Alliaria petiolata is a commonly found wildflower in Europe, Asia, and parts of Africa.  Whenever its foliage is bruised, crushed, or trampled, this plant’s leaves release a scent that’s reminiscent of garlic; as a consequence, in the UK, Alliaria petiolata is often called Garlic Mustard, or Hedge Garlic.  Another common name for Alliaria petiolata is Jack-by-the hedge, which reflects one of this plant’s habitats and Alliaria petiolata’s prominence as a plant that lines our hedgerows.  I am sure that Alliaria petiolata has a great many nicknames, given this plant’s vast expanse of homelands.

I grow Alliaria petiolata in my garden.  I adore Alliaria petiolata‘s foliage and always admire this plant’s attractive heart-shaped leaves with their pretty toothed edging.

Plants are biennial: Alliaria petiolata seed germinates to form small plants in its first year.  In their second year of growth, Alliaria petiolata plants attain their full height, produce their flowers, then set seed and die.

Alliaria petiolata thrives in a wide range of conditions.  Plants will flourish in bright sunshine, partial shade, dappled shade, and deep shade.  Alliaria petiolata grows in almost any soil, including wet and very dry soils.  This is a useful biennial, as it grows in conditions that very few plants will grow in, including dry shade.

If you’re keen to support and encourage wildlife in your garden, then Alliaria petiolata is an ideal plant for your planting list.  A biennial that’s popular with many insects, Alliaria petiolata also provides valuable leafy cover to shield passing insects, invertebrates, small mammals, and amphibians, from predators.

This is one of the easiest plants in the world to grow from seed – almost every single seed will germinate!  Sow Alliaria petiolata seeds from the beginning of March until the end of June, or from the start of August to the end of September.  There’s no need to pot Alliaria petiolata plants up (unless you really want to!), just scatter your Alliaria petiolata seeds wherever you want your plants to grow, and et voila; next year you’ll have fully grown plants!  I think that in the UK, we could scatter Alliaria petiolata seeds at any time!

Alliaria petiolata plants will soon spread to colonise an area.  However, despite their height when fully grown, Alliaria petiolata plants are very easy to pull up by hand – you won’t need a spade or fork.  If you want to minimise the number of future seedlings your plants will produce, deadhead most of your plants after flowering, but don’t forget that you will need to allow the production of at least a few seeds each year to create continuing generations of plants.

Alliaria petiolata grows up to 1.3m (4.2ft) tall.

NB: In the UK, Alliaria petiolata is one of our wildflowers.  However, due to Alliaria petiolata’s ability to set seed, spread and colonise an area, gardeners who have grown Alliaria petiolata in new countries have caused problems.  In these countries, Alliaria petiolata is an invasive plant that is outcompeting their native wildflowers.  Please do not grow this plant if you live in the United States or in other countries were the plant is invasive – google your country, the name Alliaria petiolata, and term ‘invasive’ for more information.

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