Nigella damascena or Love-In-A-Mist Fern is a very hardy annual native to Northern Africa and Southern Europe. Leaves are filiform and plants are much branched. Plants will reach up to 1.5 feet (0.45 m) tall. I have grown these plants for years in my own garden and this year was the first year that I grew them in the greenhouse. Although the plants adapt to most soil types, growing them in a container was a challenge. It is very easy to overwater them in containers. These plants are great for breaking up clay soils in the landscape and within a couple of years, the soil becomes very workable. They are of easy culture whether grown in containers or in the landscape. Plants are hardy in the landscape in all USDA zones.
Blooming: Flowers with large finely divided involucres are born in the spring. Individual flowers are up to 1.5 inches (3.81 cm) across and in colors ranging from white to pale blue, pink and purple. The fruits are globular, inflated follicles united to the base of their long, erect styles. Flowers have a good self life in arrangements and the fruit is used in dry arrangements. Needless to say, the common name is misleading as true ferns do not have flowers!
Culture: Nigella damascena or Love-In-A-Mist does best in full sun to partial shade with a good well-drained soil. In the greenhouse, we used a soil mix of 2 parts peat moss to 2 parts sand or perlite. The plants were well watered and allowed to dry slightly before watering again. We fertilized them once during the season with a balanced fertilizer. They make a nice addition to the winter greenhouse when grown under lights. The will bloom 10-12 weeks after planting. The flowering season can be extended by keeping the plants deadheaded or by planting every few weeks. Plants in the landscape will reseed themselves and so far they have not became weedy like some annuals.
Propagation: Nigella damascena or Love-In-A-Mist is best propagated from seed.
Nigella damascena was featured as Plant of the Week January 7-20, 2011.
Guide to Past Plants-of-the-Week:
Cal's Plant of the Week was provided as a service by the University of Oklahoma Department of Microbiology & Plant Biology and specifically the late Cal Lemke, who used to be OU's botany greenhouse grower and an avid gardener at home as well. If the above links don't work, then try the overview site. You may also like to look at the thumbnail index. ©1998-2012 All rights reserved.