Love-in-a-Mist – Nigella damascena

Love-in-a-Mist is an enchanting flower for tubs or pots and looks best when grown in large groups, with the flowers appearing through a mass of feathery foliage.

The bright green leaves are finely cut, and from a distance resemble a haze or mist of green. It is this that is partly responsible for the more popular of the plant’s common names. It is also sometimes known as Devil-in-a-Bush and Love-in-a-Puzzle.

Seed sown in the spring will flower from July to August, and sometimes into September. Remove the dead flowers initially, but leave the later ones on to form seed pods if you want to dry them.

The flowers can be picked for summer bouquets and look particularly lovely with other delicate flowers such as Gypsophila.Love-in-a-Mist - Nigella damascena

Love-in-a-Mist is a medium-sized hardy annual that grows to a maximum height of 60cm (24in).

The pretty double flowers are about 38mm (1½in) across. Seed pods are about 25mm (1 in) in length.

Colours and forms

The most frequently-grown form is Nigella damascene ‘Miss Jekyll Blue’, which has large bright blue flowers. There is also a mixed form, ‘Persian Jewels Mixed’, with semi-double flowers that are white, pink and shades of blue and purple.

Display ideas

Although it is very attractive when planted on its own, Love-in-a-Mist makes a good companion plant for Mignonette.

Growing from seed

Sow the seeds in March, in tubs, window-boxes or other containers in which you want them to flower. Alternatively, if you can give the seedlings protection in winter, for example by covering with a cloche, you can sow the seed in September for early flowers the following spring.

1 Use a rich well-drained soil-based potting compost. Sprinkle the seeds evenly over the surface of the compost and cover them with a thin layer.

2 When the seeds have germinated and the seedlings are large enough to handle, thin them out to 18-23cm (7-9in) apart.

3 You should water regularly in dry weather, but there is no need to feed.

If you want to use the seed pods in dried flower arrangements, leave the plants undisturbed after the last flowers have faded, so that the seed capsules, or pods, can develop. When the pods have swollen, you can either pull up the whole plant, or cut the stems carrying the pods. Tie the stems together towards their ends and hang the pods upside down in a dry place.

Once the plants are completely dry, arrange them on their own in a suitable container, or mix them with other dried flowers. Take care to handle them carefully, as they are rather fragile.

Pests And Diseases

Love-in-a-Mist is a hardy plant that is not usually prone to disease or attacked by pests.

Weak growth and a sticky substance on leaves and stems are signs of aphids, which excrete honeydew. They can be more of a problem in some years than in others. Treatment: Keep an eye on your plants to prevent serious attacks. In particular, examine flower buds and young shoots, the aphid’s favourite hiding places. In minor attacks, spray the plants with a strong stream of water. For more serious cases, use an insecticide containing pyrethrum.

PLANT CARE

Once the seeds have germinated, the plant will almost look after itself. Remove dead flowers to improve the quality of successive ones.

  • Potting: Sow seeds in a nourishing soil-based potting compost where you want them to flower. There is no need to repot.
  • Water regularly during the spring and summer as necessary. Plants grown in small containers should be watered daily in hot weather.
  • Feeding: As long as you have provided your plants with a nourishing compost, there is no need to feed them.

BEST GROWTH ENVIRONMENT

  • Light: Grow in an open position in full sun.
  • Temperature: It will thrive in normal summer temperatures — 18-24°C (65-75°F), but will die down with the first autumn frosts.

Buying Tips

  • Buy seed in spring for sowing outdoors in
  • March. Bedding plants are sometimes available from garden centres and nurseries.
  • Only buy seed that is packaged for the current year. If buying bedding plants, choose those with good bushy growth.

An annual, it will die in the autumn, but seed pods can be collected and dried for winter use. If left undisturbed, seeds from unpicked pods may germinate in the spring.

An old cottage-garden favourite, Love-in-a-Mist produces sky-blue flowers surrounded by thin feathery bracts. The flowers are followed by decorative papery seed pods.

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