Common Rue (Ruta graveolens) Quick Facts:
Host plant to Black Swallowtail, Anise Swallowtail, and Giant Swallowtail
Hardy in zones 5-9
Full sun, tolerates partial shade
Needs well drained soil
Bright yellow flowers in Summer
2-3 feet tall
Can be grown in containers
Space 18-24 inches apart
May cause irritation or blisters if handled with bare skin
Common Rue Plants for Swallowtails
Our Ruta graveolens comes in 3.5 inch pots. Rue is one of our favorite host plants because it is a host for both the Black Swallowtail and the Giant Swallowtail butterfly caterpillars. It also has lovely blue/green foliage year-around and a covering of small yellow flowers in the spring.
Common Rue is an evergreen perennial. It is short-lived for a perennial but it will produce plenty of seeds and it self-seeds in our Southeastern area. Rue plants in our area lives for about 5-6 years.
The one thing to be careful of is that it can cause a reaction called phytophotodermatitis, resulting in blisters on the skin. This usually only happens on hot, sunny days when a person is sweaty while handling Rue in the sun. None of us here at Joyful Butterfly have experienced this while growing Rue in a garden setting, though several of us have had reactions while working with it in greenhouses. Severe cases are rare. Many people seem to have no reaction at all, but wearing gloves while working with this plant is a good precautionary measure if you are concerned.
Rue has many great characteristics in the garden and is a great addition to any butterfly garden aimed at attracting swallowtail butterflies!