Dictionary of Flowers: Nigella Damascena
(Love in a Mist)

Nigella Damascena (Love in a Mist) looks like a lady's wedding hat. Image used under a Creative Commons licence with the kind permission of Diddlecome Dawcock and Flickr
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Nigella Damascena (Love in a Mist) looks like a lady's wedding hat. Image used under a Creative Commons licence with the kind permission of Diddlecome Dawcock and Flickr

  • Nigella Damascena
  • Common name: love in a mist
  • Family: Ranunculaceae
  • Category: hardy annual
  • Height: 18" to 24"
  • Width: 9" 
  • Sun
  • Blooms: late spring to late summer, depending on growing zone
  • Growth habit: upright. Used as a filler in container combinations
  • Maintenance: easy
  • Soil: average, well drained. Water regularly if grown in containers
  • Garden uses: containers, mixed border, cutting garden, cottage garden
  • Diseases: disease resistant
  • Pests: pest free

Nigella's fine, fern-like foliage and profusion of showy flowers in white, pink and blue make it a great addition to the garden as a filler plant.

It is native to Southern Europe, North Africa and Western Asia.

Nigella doesn't handle heat very well, so it might need to be pulled out and replaced by other annuals that handle heat better, or grown as a late winter and early spring bloomer in warmer zones.

After bloom when the seedpods dry, they can be used as part of dried flower arrangements.

Nigella is very easy to grow. Seedlings don't transplant well, so it's best to sow it in place or buy starts in nurseries in spring when available.

It isn't picky about soil, growing in fertile to average soils. It requires average watering and well drained soil.

Nigella grows best in full sun. It can be deadheaded if self seeding is not desired (nigella self seeds abundantly), or seed pods can be allowed to dry and seed can be saved and stored.

Fertilize once a month during spring and summer for optimal bloom with a balanced fertilizer.

IWILLWRITECAPTION. Image used under a Creative Commons licence with the kind permission of NAMEOFFLICKRUSER and Flickr

To grow from seed, scatter seed on raked garden soil two to four weeks before last expected frost, or if growing in warm zones, in the fall. Cover lightly.

Seed germinates in about two weeks. Thin seedlings to eight inches when they reach two inches. It can be sown once every two to three weeks for longer bloom period. 




IWILLWRITECAPTION. Image used under a Creative Commons licence with the kind permission of NAMEOFFLICKRUSER and Flickr

Nigella is not usually bothered by pests or diseases. It is deer resistant. 

Popular varieties:

  • Nigella damascena 'Miss Jekyll' - six to twelve inches tall, blue flowers. Miss Jekyl Alba has white flowers
  • Nigella damascena 'Persian Jewels' - twelve to eighteen inches, pink, blue or white flowers
  • Nigella damascena 'Oxford Blue' - twelve to eighteen inches, medium blue blooms
  • Nigella hispanica 'Curiosity' - a taller nigella species (up to three feet tall), very intense blue flowers

IWILLWRITECAPTION. Image used under a Creative Commons licence with the kind permission of NAMEOFFLICKRUSER and Flickr

Full List of Dictionary of Flowers Entries

Annuals For Containers

Perennials For Containers

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