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 Eastern Mediterranean.

They are used in many classic cottage garden setting 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.

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 is getting more rain the 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.

PESTS

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

  • Whiteflies
  • Thrips
  • Aphids

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 damscena 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 damscena 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 damscena 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