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Love-in-a-Mist: Nigella damascene

Written by Mindy on October 14th, 2013

Love-in-a-Mist is a beautiful annual plant that is self-seeding.  But while it does save the gardener time as far as replanting, this simple task of self-seeding can make this plant invasive.  In doing so, make sure you want this plant before you begin the planting process.

If you are new to this plant, plan to do your seeding anytime.  Seeds can be directly sowed in the fall, while the winter month’s sowing will have to be done in a coldframe or unheated greenhouse.  If you want to get a head start on the blooming season, consider starting them indoors prior to the last frost.  Or, just wait until after your local frost-free date and sow.

To enhance germination rates, soak seeds in lukewarm water for a few hours and then plant in a sunny to partially shady location.  After the seeds have been sprinkled into their new home, cover with ¼ inch of soil and water in.

nigella

To extend the flowering season, one can utilize two techniques.  First, one can remove the dead flowers but the disadvantage to this is the fact that no seeds will form and in doing so the plant cannot reseed.  A second approach consists of planting new seed ever three to four weeks.  This last step will guarantee a full season of blooms.

Love-in-a-Mist looks wonderful in container gardens, alongside cottages as a rustic planting, and in mixed beds and borders.  Another unique planting combination is to combine Love-in-a-Mist with strawberries.  The lace like texture of the leaves of the Love-in-a-Mist is offset by the dark green color of the strawberry leaves.  Also the ruby red fruits of the strawberry add a different contrast to the multicolored blooms of the Love-in-a-Mist.

Once you have your seeds planted and the plant matures, how do you harvest the seeds? While this step may sound simple, I do have a hint for you.  Once the seedpods have dried on the plant, cut the stem off level with the soil, place in a paper bag with seedpod going in first, and then tie off the top of the bag.  Hang in a warm, well-ventilated area to dry.  After a few days, shake the bag.  If you hear seeds moving around in the bottom of the bag, continue to shake vigorously.  Once that is done, crush any remaining seedpods that still have seeds.  There is no need to try to remove the crushed seedpods.

After you have your dried seeds, store in a labeled, paper envelope and store in a cool location away from sunlight.

An additional aspect of this plant is its unique seed pods.  Beyond crushing them to remove the seeds, they can also be dried and used in floral arrangements.

 

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