Asperula is a genus of flowering plants containing almost 200 species. These plants are found all over the world in a wide variety of settings. Several are cultivated as ornamental plants in the garden, and some have historic uses as medicinal plants. People interested in growing some members of this genus may be able to obtain seedlings or seeds at a nursery. Another option is a gardening exchange, where people trade seeds, cuttings, seedlings, and other gardening material with each other.
These plants belong to Rubiaceae, a family of plants also known as bedstraw, coffee, or madder. The genus includes a number of plants known as woodruffs, although these species are sometimes placed in a different genus. Asperula includes both annual and perennial plants. Some perennials may be grown as annuals in regions outside their normal climate zone by gardeners interested in their foliage and flowers.
Members of this genus tend to be small and low to the ground, with bright green, simple foliage. Flowers can be white, blue, or cream and may be arranged in a number of different ways, depending on the species. Many are adapted for harsh environments and thrive in poor soils, including chalky soils, rocky soils, and dry soils. Asperula can be a good choice for low water gardening, as many species are drought tolerant. It is also a good selection for a low maintenance garden, as the plants do not require pruning, trimming, or deadheading to thrive.
Medicinally, some species were used to prepare tisanes for a variety of complaints. The medicinal value of Asperula has not been carefully evaluated in clinical studies. Patients who wish to use these plants medicinally may want to consult their doctors for advice. There may be contraindications or complications to watch out for, and it is possible a physician may be able to recommend a better alternative, herbal or conventional.
Many species in this genus can be easily cultivated from seed. To sprout Asperula seeds, people should sow the seeds in moist, rich soil in a warm, humid environment like a greenhouse or the bathroom. Seeding should be done a few weeks before the last chance of frost in the spring. As the seedlings mature and frost warnings are lifted, they can be transplanted to a suitable location in the garden. Starting seedlings in peat cups can make this process more efficient, as they can be planted directly, with no need to unpot them for planting. The cups will break down naturally, enriching the soil.