Everything You Need To Know About Growing Nigella

Nigella

Nigella is an easy-to-grow annual that is drought-tolerant and deer-resistant with beautiful blooms.

Nigella is an annual plant that is native to Southern Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, and South and Southwest Asia with 18 species.

Nigella is also known as love in a mist and black cumin that is used for culinary and medical purposes in India, Southwestern Asia, Northern Africa, and in the Eastern Mediterranean.

They are used in many classic cottage garden settings with their thin needle-like foliage similar to fennel and are often used for cut flowers in a vase.

PLANTING NIGELLA

Nigella is a hardy annual that can be sown into the soil between March and April or the seeds can be sown in September for the following year which will bloom between May and June.

They do best in hardiness zones 2 through 11 and prefer sandy wet soil but they can also do well in other soil conditions with the soil pH ranging between 6.0 through 7.0.

Nigellas do prefer growing in cool areas with plenty of sunlight and should be planted 8 to 12 inches apart.

They can be started 6 to 8 weeks before the last frost for growing in containers or to transplant into the ground or raised garden beds.

Their roots don’t take well with transplanting therefore make sure to use cardboard seed starters so the root system is not disturbed.

They can also be sown outdoors 1 to 2 weeks before the last frost and some gardeners resow seed every two or three weeks for constant blooming.

When planting you can just simply hand cast the seeds over the area you want to grow them or you can plant them about one-quarter inch in the soil and 2 to 3 inches apart in rows that are about half a foot apart.

NIGELLA USES

Nigellas are typically used by gardeners in shade gardens, flower gardens, cottage gardens, underplanting trees, raised garden beds, and potting containers.

They are also used as cut flowers in different flower arrangements and vases.

FERTILIZING AND WATERING

Nigella is best fertilized monthly with an all-purpose fertilizer or a homemade liquid fertilizer.

When applying fertilizer, it is best to apply it between the base of the plant to the tips of the branches. This area of the plant is known as the drip line.

They need to be watered slowly and deeply to allow the top two inches of soil to become well-saturated.

MULCHING

Mulching nigella will help the soil retain water which will reduce the amount of time it takes to water them.

The thickness bed of the mulch is best between 1 to 2 inches thick and may need to be reduced if you live in a moist and rainy climate or if you are getting more rain than usual.

The mulch will also help with weed control which is important because they don’t compete well with weeds.

It is best to add new mulch every year as the older mulch breaks down.

BLOOMS

Nigella

Nigella blooms have several layers of multiple small petals that appear in early spring and they only last for a few weeks.

Their blooms attract bees, butterflies, and moths.

The blooms are either purple, pink, blue, or white and are between 1 to 2 inches across. They appear in the early spring and last for a few days therefore it is recommended to sow them in secession for season-long blooms, but there is another way.

When the blooms are wilted removing them will encourage the plant to rebloom. This is called deadheading and this will keep the plant from being able to produce seeds.

If you don’t want this annual to come back during the next growing season then deadheading is recommended.

If you want your nigellas to return the next year on the other hand then you can allow some blooms to go to seed.

PRUNING

When nigellas are young the tips of the foliage can be removed to encourage it to spread out which will increase the number of blooms.

PROPAGATING

If you would like your nigellas to return the next season then you can let some or all of the blooms go to seed.

The seed can be collected or allowed to fall to the ground to sprout the following season.

PESTS

Pests tend to leave nigellas alone when established but there are some pests to keep an eye out for.

VARIETIES

All varieties of nigellas have thin leaves that are similar to fennel and can easily be mistaken for a weed especially before it is able to bloom.

MULBERRY ROSE NIGELLA

Nigella

Mulberry rose nigella is native to Southern Europe and Northern Africa where it grows in fields and in rocky soil.

  • Plant size – grows to about 1 tall and a half feet wide
  • Sun requirements – full sun to partial shade
  • Blooming colors – pink blooms that transform into a rich rose color
  • Foliage – needle-shaped green leaves
  • Also known as – rose nigella, nigella damascene mulberry rose

CAMBRIDGE BLUE NIGELLA

Nigella
  • Plant size – grows to about 1 foot tall
  • Sun requirements – full sun to partial shade
  • Blooming colors – blue blooms that appear in early spring with small multilayered petals
  • Foliage – needle-shaped green leaves
  • Also known as – Nigella Damscena Cambridge Blue

PERSIAN VIOLET NIGELLA

Persian violet is an heirloom variety of nigellas.

  • Plant size – grows to about 2 feet tall
  • Sun requirements – full sun to partial shade
  • Blooming colors – they open as white blooms with light blue edges and transform into a rich purple color. They appear in early spring with small multilayered petals.
  • Foliage – needle-shaped green leaves
  • Also known as – nigella damascene Persian violet

PERSIAN JEWELS NIGELLA

  • Plant size – grows to about 2 feet tall
  • Sun requirements – full sun to partial shade
  • Blooming colors – they open as white blooms with light blue edges and transform into a rich purple color. They appear in early spring with small multilayered petals.
  • Foliage – needle-shaped green leaves
  • Also known as – nigella damascene Persian jewels

ALBION BLACK POD NIGELLA

Nigella
  • Plant size – grows to about 2 feet tall
  • Sun requirements – full sun to partial shade
  • Blooming colors – white blooms in early spring with small multilayered petals
  • Foliage – needle-shaped green leaves
  • Also known as – nigella damscena albion black pod

MISS JEKYLL DARK BLUE NIGELLA

Nigella
  • Plant size – grows to about 2 feet tall
  • Sun requirements – full sun to partial shade
  • Blooming colors – blue blooms in early spring with small multilayered petals
  • Foliage – needle-shaped green leaves
  • Also known as – nigella damscena Miss Jekyll dark blue

DELFT BLUE NIGELLA

Delft blue nigella is named after the Dutch delft blue pottery company.

  • Plant size – grows to about 3 feet tall and 1 foot wide
  • Sun requirements – full sun to partial shade
  • Blooming colors – purplish-blue blooms in early spring with small multilayered petals
  • Foliage – needle-shaped green leaves
  • Also known as – nigella damscena delft blue

MULBERRY ROSE NIGELLA

  • Plant size – grows to about 3 feet tall and 1 and a half feet wide
  • Sun requirements – full sun to partial shade
  • Blooming colors – pale pink blooms that mature into deep red blooms in early spring with small multilayered petals
  • Foliage – needle-shaped green leaves
  • Also known as – nigella damscena mulberry rose

BLUE MIDGET NIGELLA

Blue midget nigella is a dwarf variety that is great for edging.

  • Plant size – grows to about 20 inches tall and 1 foot wide
  • Sun requirements – full sun to partial shade
  • Blooming colors – blue blooms in early spring with small multilayered petals
  • Foliage – needle-shaped green leaves
  • Also known as – nigella damscena blue midget

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Joel Simon

As a kid, Joel found enjoyment in caring for the many houseplants he grew up with, learning how to transplant them safely, cloning them, and more. At about the age of 10, he wanted to see if he could sprout an orange seed from a store-bought orange and ended up using it as a science experiment in a school project. Throughout the many years of gardening, he has helped many friends and family set up their food and botanical gardens. After years of caring for plants, he was talking with other gardeners and discovering old methods of farming and botanical gardening. Joel has decided to share his knowledge for others to enjoy as he has for many years.

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