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Nigella

Gardening Reference » Gardening in 2005
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by Patty S on November 16, 2005 07:20 AM
Carly & Sheri, in response to your conversation about Nigella (in the Gardeners Chat/"tulips coming up" topic), here's a Nigella photo for you.
(Nigella damascena, AKA love-in-a-mist, devil in the bush, Jack in the green, ragged lady & fennel flower.) They grow in doubles & singles, as you can see here.
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These are my absolute favorite flower when it comes to high production/color & low maintenence. (The poorer the soil, the more flowers you get!) I raise them heavily where I try to discourage deer, along my property line. (My theory is that they won't notice my roses beyond the abundant Nigella & other deer-proof plants, so they'll turn around & go the other way when they see that they're surrounded by plants they don't like!! ...it doesn't always work, but it's sure pretty out there!) [thumb]

Some people call them weeds! [shocked] I first got my seeds from a friend who cusses every time she sees them coming up all over her yard. (& I DO mean all over her yard! They can be extremely invasive if you don't pick the pods before they dry up & pop open!) I tried to tell her that she could control them easily enough by just lowering the lawn mower blade & mowing them down before they flower, but she doesn't listen to me! (Fine! More seeds for me that way!) [tongue]

Mine come up early in the spring & I reseed before harvesting those pods, so I can have another batch blooming in the summer, & I get 3 crops each year. (There's a batch coming up here right now, that should flower in a couple weeks! I'll leave most of those pods to winter over & reseed by themselves.)

I have these seeds, but I don't bother to separate them into the double/single blossom categories, as there are always plenty, & both look nice/keep well as cut flowers. Although I haven't gotten organized enough to post my seed list yet on the Exchange page, [Confused] here's what my seed package will say, once I get myself in gear:
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Nigella damascena
Cold/Heat/Draught Tolerant - Deer Resistant - Ridiculously easy to grow
Love-in-a-Mist is an annual that will self-seed easily year after year, sometimes popping up in unexpected places in the garden. Flowers appear about 3 months after sowing, followed by unusual but ornamental seed pods that can be used in dried arrangements. Sow directly in the ground as transplanting is difficult. Cold treated seed. These seeds have been stratified for quick germination.
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Carly, Nigella seeds look identical to the Poppy seeds you see on Poppy seed buns/Poppy seed cake, & here are what the sprouts look like:
 - ~October'05~
(They'll look exactly like carrot plants when they first start out.)

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by Bestofour on November 16, 2005 07:57 AM
Thanks Patty S. Hopefully Carly will see this. It's my favorite flower too, so dainty and colorful. Mine bloom early spring. I've never had any bloom in the fall.

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by Patty S on November 16, 2005 12:40 PM
Sheri, I could never get my Nigella to sprout in midsummer OR fall either, & finally found out why... the seeds need to be stratified before they'll sprout! (Nature takes care of that, of course, over the winter!)

After the pods are dry & start opening up, that tells me the seeds are ready, & I simply put them right in the fridge... I think they only need to be in there for about 3 weeks to be viable, but I just leave them there all the time. I put them in little jars marked with the harvest dates, so they're all ready to go when when my spring & summer planting times come around, & I get 3 crops a year that way! (Also, keeping them in the fridge is the best way not to misplace them like I do just about everything else!!) [Confused]

I could have constant flowering, I suppose, but I have such a large area where I grow them, that I don't want to have to be harvesting the seed pods out there all the time & walking all over the ones that are blooming! As it is, letting them self-seed in the fall gets them scattered to places where I don't really want them (& they DON'T like to be moved), so I control the plantings to 3 per year. (I let most of the fall crop self-seed because the spring rains don't wash them into clumps when I let Mother Nature do it herself!) They look better coming up in an even mass, anyway! Looks like a sea of blue!
[flower] Beautiful! [flower] [thumb]

Oh & by the way, I've found that Nigella seeds stay viable for 3 years, as far as I know personally. Have never kept any back [lala] ...on purpose... [lala] to know if they're good for longer than that, though. (That's nice to know about seeds, sometimes!)

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by Bestofour on November 16, 2005 01:52 PM
Doesn't the cold weather bother them?

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by Patty S on November 16, 2005 02:49 PM
What cold weather?! [dunno] Sure, it gets cold here, but it seldom freezes. (I heard that it did, about 4 yrs ago, but I didn't live here then.) We're getting down around 39F at night right now (which is PLENTY cold enough for me), but it doesn't usually drop much lower than that. Since I've been hooked on Nigella the past few years, they haven't seemed to react much to the cooler weather, other than maybe being slower at growing & blooming, but I have no idea what they'd do during a frost.

I don't know what the Almanac says, but I've had a feeling "in my bones" since September, that we're going to have a "real" cold snap here this year, so I may be able to answer that question before winter is over! [scaredy]

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by Bestofour on November 16, 2005 08:44 PM
They're such dainty flowers I figured chilly weather would cause problems. Good to know. I'm going to start reseeding throughout the year and see what happens.

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by tkhooper on November 17, 2005 12:56 AM
I could certainly use some spring color so if you end up with any extra seeds I'd love some. I could even put them out now for next spring lol. It's still nice out down here too.

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by Patty S on November 17, 2005 01:08 PM
TK~ The hurrieder I go, the behinder I get, but PM me with your address & I'll get some Nigella seeds off to you as soon as I get my ducks in a row. ( Stupid ducks don't seem to care who's in charge here!) I'm trying my best to get organized, but other things keep getting in the way!

Yes, you can sprinkle them around now & have them first thing, next spring! [clappy] To avoid having the autumn rains wash them all into the same place, it helps if you press down or step lightly on the area where you plant them. (But be careful not to walk them in too deep, & don't cover them.)

Also, when they come up in the spring don't fertilizer them cuz they seem to put out more flowers without it... the poorer the soil, the happier they are!

I forgot to include these tips before I printed the seed packets! [Confused] (See? My organizational skills seem to be on vacation! I swear, I've been busier this fall than I was all summer! I'm blaming it on the lost hour since we turned our clocks back!)

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