About Northern Bedstraw: This versatile native wildflower has many historical uses. It belongs to the same genus as the European Madder plant, which is used to make dyes; Native Americans valued this plant for its ability to produce a naturally scarce red dye. Bedstraw is also related to the tropical coffee plant, and the seeds can be used to brew a very acceptable substitute for that beverage. In addition, this plant produces a substance called asperuloside, which may be of value in the pharmaceutical field. This substance also causes a sweet, hay-like scent when the plant has dried, which explains its use as a stuffing or “bedstraw” for mattresses and pillows in medieval times.
Northern Bedstraw Germination: Direct sow in late fall, planting the seeds just below the surface and lightly compacting the soil. For spring planting or starting indoors, mix the seed with moist sand and store it in the refrigerator for 30 days before direct sowing; keep the soil consistently moist and at a temperature of 70 degrees F until germination, which usually occurs within 10-15 days. Thin or transplant the seedlings to 8-10” apart. This plant adapts well to rocky or sandy soil.
Growing Northern Bedstraw Seeds: Keep the soil consistently moist; this plant does not tolerate drought well. The foliage can become scorched in excessive sunlight or heat, and the plant prefers growing in cool climates. Though slow to establish, it will spread by rhizomes and by self-seeding and can become rather weedy if left to itself.
Harvesting Northern Bedstraw: For fresh flowers, cut long stems of flowers that have just opened and place them in water immediately; strip the leaves that will fall below the water. This plant also can be dried for a fragrant addition to potpourri, because of its naturally sweet scent.
Saving Northern Bedstraw Seeds: After flowering, this plant will produce pairs of seeds that ripen to brown; cut off the stems or strip off the ripe seeds into a container. Store the cleaned seed in a cool, dry place.
Detailed Northern Bedstraw Info: Origin: US Native Other Common Names: Bedstraw Duration: Perennial Bloom Time: Summer Height: 12-24 inches Spacing: 8-10 inches Light: Full Sun to Part Shade Soil Moisture: Medium USDA Zone: 3a-8b Seeds Per Oz: 70,000 Produces stems with whorls of four blade-like leaves, topped by showy clusters of tiny, four-petaled white flowers.