Our cleavers is a wonderful spring tonic herb that is easy to grow and will naturalize quite easily where planted. Planting cleavers around bushes or small trees will provide an easy natural mulch for the plants and protect them from sun scald during the dormant season.
I find that planting cleavers in a wide and tall pot allows for me to harvest as the plant spills out of the pot. Having nothing to cleave onto, the herb stays clean and bruise-free, making a higher quality dried herb. This technique works well with some other plants too.
Common name: Cleavers
Botanical name: Galium aparine
Type: Over-wintering/spring annual
Hardiness: If over-wintering, hardy to 20 F
Sow temp/season: Cool soils of early fall through late winter/early spring.
Sow depth/spacing: Surface sow every two inches.
Germination time: 30-90 days depending on the weather.
Final spacing: 6 inch centers.
Final height/spread: Will climb four feet if its convenient. If cleavers have nothing to climb, will mound up 18”.
pH range: 5.0-7.5
Soil type: Likes loamy forest type soil.
Nutrition Cleavers is not a heavy feeder, so some compost here or there will suffice.
Drainage: Will grow in wet soil as long as crown isn’t submerged in water.
Water requirement: Not drought tolerant, so, a steady amount of water is needed.
Sun: Likes afternoon shade.
Root type: Very fine spreading roots.
Time to maturity: 90 days till seed set.
Hilling: None needed.
Suckering: No root suckers but branches along its crawl.
Propagation: Best to direct-sow seed on site or in 1 gallon pots. Does not transplant well.
Hybridization: Plant different types of galium 50 feet away to keep genetics pure.
Uses: Cleavers are a highly esteemed lymphatic tonic, an astringent, depurative and diaphoretic. It is a good candidate for juicing, fresh or dried tea, tincturing, or even an infused oil for lymphatic massage.