After that beautiful rain we had, the soil was ready for a sowing of seeds that were gifted to me by my friend Sue White. Sue and Shelley Benz had given an informative presentation on love-in-a-mist to The Herb Guild a few meetings ago. We usually think of love-in-a-mist (Nigella damascena) as an annual plant with pretty blue flowers and fennel-like leaves, but they revealed in their presentation that there is also a yellow flowered variety Nigella orientalis ‘Transformer’. While on vacation Sue was able to obtain some of the seeds and was generous enough to share.
Love-in-a-mist is a member of the buttercup family (Ranunculaceae). Plants grow to a height of 18” and a width of 12”, with branching stems and finely divided leaves. The flowers extend above the foliage and have five petal-like sepals and five smaller petals. Most varieties of love-in-a-mist have flowers of blue or white, but growers have introduced plants with pink, purple and (most recently) yellow flowers. The black seeds that are coveted as a condiment are in the green ovary. They are somewhat spicy, similar to nutmeg, and are used to flavor wine and used in baked goods.
The flowers of ‘Transformer’ are greenish-yellow and rather inconspicuous, but the seed pods are curiously shaped like a claw.
Choose a sunny spot to sow seeds of love-in-a-mist. Seeds can be sown in spring when the soil temperature has reached 60 degrees F.; because we have mild winters in North Texas, we can sow seeds in fall as well. Cover lightly with soil, keep moist, and expect to see little seedlings in 10-14 days. It is best to sow in situ because plants resist being transplanted. If needed, thin to 9” apart; use scissors to remove the extras rather than pulling to avoid disturbing neighboring seedlings.
I’m looking forward to growing this plant in my garden. I’ve always been a sucker for chartreuse-colored flowers and the Dr. Seuss appearance of the seed pods will be a delight. I’ll save seeds and will happily share them, but if you can’t wait, you can order seeds from one of my favorite seed companies: Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds http://www.rareseeds.com/transformer-love-in-a-mist.