Thursday, December 31, 2009

Love-in-a-mist 'Persian Jewel' Mix

Botanical name: Nigella damascena 'Persian Jewel' Mix (Ranunculaceae)
Other name: Persian Jewels, Wild Fennel, Nigella damascena, Devil-in-a-bush, Jack-in-the-green, Lady-in-the-bower

This small to medium sized annual grows 15-24" high and up to a foot wide (if not crowded). Plants have finely cut, bright green leaves that resembles fennel leaves. Light green, lacy, finely divided threadlike bracts form the “mist” surrounding the jewel-like flowers.

Flowers are usually bright blue to very pale blue. Each flower is 1½” across, with 5 large, petal-like sepals and small, deeply divided petals hidden beneath the stamens. The flower is followed by attractive, balloon-shaped “seedpod” (actually an inflated capsule composed of 5 fused true seedpods) up to 2” long and green with purple or bronze stripes. Love-in-a-mist looks good in the garden even when the plant is not in bloom, with its handsome foliage and interesting seedpods after flowering.

'Persian Jewels' series – is a mixture of shades of mauve, lavender, purple, rose, light blue and white double flowers.

How to grow
Love-in-a-mist is very easy to grow. The plants do best in full sun in well drained, fertile soil. Sow the deep black, sharp-cornered seed about ⅛” deep where you want the plants to grow, as love-in-a-mist does not transplant well because of the plant's long taproot. Seeds should germinate within 2-3 weeks under most conditions. Begin sowing as soon as the soil can be worked in early spring. Seeds can be started indoors 4-6 weeks before transplanting outdoors, but they should be sown in individual peat pots and transplanted with care. Love-in-a-mist tolerates frost, so is primarily a spring and fall annual; it does not perform well in hot weather.

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