Meadowsweet, Filipendula ulmaria, is also known as Spiraea ulmaria (it's old botanical name) bridewort, meadow queen, meadow-wort, pride of the meadow, queen of the meadow, lady of the meadow and also meadsweet. It's a perennial herb that grows wild in England, Canada and the U.S. You'll find it in damp meadows, bogs, ditches, on the edges of ponds or other water such as rivers or marshes. It's hardy, ornamental, medicinal and fragrant plus it can be used as a dye plant. This is a fabulous, historical herb!

Meadowsweet has lovely clusters of fragrant, creamy white flowers that bloom from June to August. They are lovely when planted with flowers or herbs that have contrasting colors such as purple or red. It reaches a height of 2-3 foot and has a spread about the same in width. Many herbs require a dry soil, and are drought tolerant. Meadowsweet is considered a bog or marsh plant, but does best in full sun. It will tolerate light shade.

You can grow it away from water if the soil is humus rich and moist. It will even grow in clay soils! The key, as I've mentioned with other herbs, is to place it well, and with other herbs or plants that require the same conditions.

Meadowsweet will also attract bees and butterflies.

You can grow meadowsweet in Zones 3-8, and I'm sure parts of Zone 2 also. If you are in a hot, humid climate it would be better to place it in light shade where it can get some relief from the afternoon sun. It can be propagated by dividing in the spring or seeds can be sown inside in flats or pots 4-8 weeks before the last frost. It will reseed, so either allow it to do so, or deadhead to prevent volunteer plants. If you grow meadowsweet for several years you'll notice it may start to die back in the center. Dig up the plant, and divide the clump, then replant, to give it new life.

If you do have a hot, dry summer and the foliage looks a little rough, cut it back after it blooms and it will grow back before autumn.

Meadowsweet is also a dye plant. A black/brown dye can be obtained from the root, while the top part of the plant can be used for a yellow dye. It's history is a long one, as a strewing herb because of the fragrance, and today it's used in potpourri because the dried blooms hold their fragrance.

There are other varieties of Filipendula to consider for your landscape. Filipendula rubra 'Venusta' is a larger, pink variety that is most often known as Queen of the Prairie. Filipendula purpurea 'Alba' is smaller with dark green foliage. Filipendula ulmaria 'Aurea' is known for it's bright foliage, as well as the white flowers.

From Brenda Hyde, owner of Old Fashioned Visit her for more tips, recipes and crafts. Sign up for her free newsletters here: