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The Nigella Flower brings a refreshing change to me. It's wonderful to come across something entirely different in the world of flowers.And this one certainly is different, to me, anyway. It is related to the Buttercup (but I can't see any resemblance whatsoever), which puts it in the Ranunculaceae family, along with the Ranunculus. So different. Have I got the right plant? If anything, it reminds me of a Cornflower. But it is not a Cornflower. (A Cornflower is also known as 'Bachelor's Button' and its botanical names is Centaurea cyanus).
When there a lot together in a garden, they look very pleasing and delicate. But one single flower up close looks extremely weird. I think it's the leaves that save them from the bottom of the list. So thin and such a contrast to the heavier blooms.
Its correct name is Nigella damascena. This plant looks delicate, but it is no wimp. It grows from 6 to 20 inches in height and is a common sight in any respectable English Cottage Garden. Its flowering time is from late spring right through to autumn and even longer if you are in the right spot.
It is a Hardy Annual which means the seeds can be sown - just scattered to fill in the gaps in your garden - in autumn and they will come up in late winter to early spring without needing any covering for the whole winter. Check out a scary close-up of Love in a Mist flaunting its reproductive parts on the Parts of a Flower page.
Looking Fierce in Deep Pink.
You can keep it blooming for longer if you know the trick of planting seeds a few weeks apart. This way you get more for your money and an enchanting spring garden. Another trick to learn is to plant the Nigella flower early - and I mean very early. Because this plant is a Hardy Annual. It's certainly not a wimp, as I said above, because it can get through the winter without needing to be covered up. Now that's tough. Find out more about Hardy Annuals and how to get them to bloom on the Names of Spring Flowers page.
Queening It Over the Anemones.
In Nature, all types of annuals are quite used to sprouting and coming up in winter, and then flowering right at the time that we are usually planting them. Hardy Annuals will overwinter themselves and produce bountiful flowers through very early spring to summer and perhaps beyond, depending on the plant and the zone.
Luckily, Nigella is one of these plants, along with the Larkspur, Godetia, the Cornflower, California Poppy and Calendula. There are more, some of them being Half Hardy which means that you can sow them, but need to have something to cover them with during the coldest period of winter. Some of these Half Hardy plants are: Sweet Peas, Salvia, Baby Blue Eyes and Gypsophila (Baby's Breath).
Nigella isn't a fussy plant by any means, and will even tolerate some shade. It doesn't need top class soil, and the seeds can just be scattered without worrying whether they all get covered. The kind of seeds you can accidentally drop from a packet and find they have come up unexpectedly in a sunny corner of your garden the next year.
And there's not much point in fertilizing it or going to any great lengths to coddle it because it usually won't last much longer than its allotted flowering time, after which it self seeds and will come up again next year - guaranteed. However, dead heading is always advised to keep as many blooms as possible.
The Nigella Flowers look quite delicate and the thread-like leaves are very pretty. The flowers come in white, pale and dark blue, pale and deep pink and even purple. And when it's finished flowering the seed pods are quite spectacular. They can be used in flower arrangements and crafts.
Most Popular types of Nigella:
Miss Jekyll: By far the most popular type. A mixture of white, pink and blue
Persian Jewels: A delightful mixture of colours, capturing the deepest pinks, blues, white and violet
Blue Midget: A 10" dwarf type
Cambridge Blue: a deeper blue variety for a cut flower
Midnight: Gorgeous deep navy blue
Blue Stars: 12 inches tall, small pale blue star-shaped flowers, a very unique look
African Bride: White with deep brown centres. This one is very unusual