Height 60cm (2ft)
Planting distance 23cm (9in)
Flowers early summer to early autumn
The blue, white and pinkof this enchanting annual bloom all summer long in a haze of feathery, soft green foliage. As the flowers fade, each seed pod swells and ripens into a pale brown, red-barred spiky globe, suitable for drying for winter decoration.
Invaluable for the border, nigella also provides superb cut flowers. Two species and their varieties are widely grown in gardens.
Nigella damascena (love-in-a-mist) has showy blue or white flowers surrounded by a leafy green crown of thread-like bracts from early to late summer. Popular varieties include ‘Miss Jekyll’ (large bright blue flowers) and ‘Persian Jewels’ (light and dark blue, rose-pink and white flowers). Nigella hispanica has larger blue flowers than the more commonly grown love-in-a-mist. Appearing from mid summer to early autumn, these have a slight scent and a cluster of red stamens. The seed pods are less inflated than those of love-in-a-mist.
Sow the seeds in any well-cultivated soil in a sunny position in early spring, just covering them with soil. Thin to 23cm (9in) apart. Dead-head for larger, later flowers, unless you want the seed pods.
Pests and diseases