How to Grow Nigella Damascena

Written by bonnie grant
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How to Grow Nigella Damascena
Nigella damascena produces complex flowers with a multitude of textures. (Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Nigella damascena has a lovely common name, Love-in-a-Mist. It refers to the peek-a-boo nature of the flower through blue lacy bracts. The plant is also called wild fennel and can be used to flavour food. Nigella damascena is a spring annual that must be seeded and germinated in the fall. The seedlings overwinter and produce feathery foliage. The bright blue flowers become thick, round seed pods that are often used in flower arrangements. Each pod carries large quantities of the tiny black seeds that spread easily. Removal of the seed pods is recommended unless you want Love-in-a-Mist in every corner of your garden.

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Things you need

  • Compost
  • Rake
  • Hose
  • Hose end adaptable sprayer
  • Garden shears
  • Manure

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  1. 1

    Sow Nigella damascena in fall or very early spring. The flower doesn't transplant well so find a permanent location for the plant in a full-sun to part-sun location. Clear the bed of weeds and roots. Spread 1 to 2 inches of compost over the top of the soil to form a nutrient-rich germination medium.

  2. 2

    Strew Love-in-a-Mist across the prepared bed and rake to make certain the seeds have contact with the soil. Mist the bed until the soil feels wet when you stick your finger in to the second knuckle. Germination of the seed should occur in two weeks.

  3. 3

    Thin the seedlings to a distance of 8 to 12 inches apart. Nigella damascens will grow 36 inches tall and get slightly bushy with fernlike foliage. Resow seeds again at this time. Love-in-a-Mist has a short bloom time that can be extended by successive sowings. This practice ensures that once the oldest plants finish blooming, the next generation will be starting.

  4. 4

    Allow the seedlings to persist through winter. They are cold hardy and will go dormant and then begin growing again in spring. Sow a crop of Nigella damascena in very early spring that will be flowering in late summer and early fall. This way, you have a long season of blooms from the flower, and it will produce a continuous stand.

  5. 5

    Prevent a population explosion by removing the flower heads after they are spent. When the plants die back in fall, spread a 3-inch layer of manure in the garden bed to add nutrients and recondition the soil for the next series of Nigella damascena.

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