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Plant Profile: Love in the Mist (Nigella damascena)

Also called ragged lady and devil in the bush, this annual is a member of the buttercup family, Ranunculaceae, that also includes anemone, columbine and delphinium.  It is native to southern Europe, north Africa, and southwest Asia, where is grows in moist disturbed land.  Growing 8-20″ tall, plants have alternate, pinnate leaves divided into many thin segments that give a feathery appearance.  The flowers are supported by a hair-like leafy involucre , and have 5-25 large blue, pink, or white sepals that look like petals. The true petals are very small, inconspicuous, and clawed.  Appearing in early summer, the flowers are 1″ across and give way to a large inflated, horned capsule that contains many seeds and turn brown with maturity.  Both flowers and capsules are ornamental.  Love in the mist is a classical cottage garden plant with its fern like foliage, pretty flowers, and attractive fruit.  Many cultivars are available that differ most significantly in color and number of colored sepals.  The genus name, Nigella, is the diminutive form of the Latin word niger meaning black and refers to the color of the seeds.  The specific epithet, damascene, comes from the name of the city in Syria where the plant was thought to have originated.  The common name, love in the mist, refers to the appearance of the flowers surrounded by the feathery involucre. The common name devil in the bush refers to the capsules in the feathery involucre and the common name ragged lady again refers to the involucre.

Type: Annual

Bloom: Blue, Pink or white flowers 1″ across in early summer

Size: 8-2″ H

Light:Full sun

Soil: Average, medium moist, well-drained

Hardiness: Zones NA

Care: Low maintenance

Pests and Diseases: None of significance

Propagation:Seed; plants self-seed.

Companion Plants: Geranium ‘Ann Follard’, Cosmos bipinnatus ‘Double Click Rose Bonbon’, Dianthus barbatus (sweet William)

Outstanding Selections:

‘Miss Jekyll’ (pale blue)

‘Miss Jekyll Alba’ (white, double flowers)

‘Persian Rose’ (pale pink)