Reseda x odorata: Mignonette
Another plant selected for this brief survey is the well-known but often neglected reseda.
Reaching the peak of its popularity some 100 years ago when catalogues listed more than 30 sorts, it has since fallen into oblivion. This plant was always grown mainly for its fragrance, and that is something cities lack more now than a century ago. Furthermore, limiting of the assortment almost always has one advantage — namely that only the loveliest cultivars are retained.
Reseda odorata, the type species used in breeding, is a native of North Africa. It is a branching plant 15 to 50 cm (6 to 20 in) high with elongate leaves that are smooth or only slightly toothed on the margin. The tinyare inconspicuous, greenish yellow with prominent yellow or red anthers.
Of the several available cultivars, recommended are ‘Machet’ – about 25 cm (10 in) high with dark foliage and pale red flowers; and ‘Goliath’ — reaching a height of more than 30 cm (1 ft) with red anthers.
The minute seeds should be sown directly in the box, urn or pot in early spring; they will germinate in about 10 to 14 days. It is best to sow them in pinches about 25 cm (10 in) apart, later thinning them and leaving only the strongest seedlings. After about a month the tops should be pinched out strongly to promote branching. The flowers appear in July and are produced until late autumn. The growing medium should be rather heavy, rich, such as John Innes potting compost No. 2.
Reseda is generally grown as a companion to other annuals for fragrance. Though it is inconspicuous, it can be used to good effect, for example, in large earthenware urns containing plants of a woody nature.