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Love in a Mist – Nigella Damascena

Nigella damascena has the common names ‘ragged lady’ and ‘love in a mist’. Both names are superbly descriptive of this interesting and somewhat wild flowering annual that can be a fantastic addition to the garden.

Nigella damascena does not like transplanting, is at its peak during the cooler parts of spring and early summer, and can be a prolific self-sower. For this reason, I’ve tagged it as a perennial.

love in a mist - nigella damascena
Nigella damascena has the common names ‘ragged lady’ and ‘love in a mist’.

Sow love in a mist directly in the garden a week or so before last average frost date. If you live in a place with cool summers, you can sow new seed every month and have love in the mist flowering in your garden through September. In hotter climates, Nigella damascena will be finished by June.

The flowers and foliage all seem to extrude various appendages, giving love in a mist a wild yet ethereal appearance. Because of the lacy texture of the foliage the appearance is not unkempt, but rather charming disarray.

Nigella damascena grows a couple of feet tall, and the flowers are an inch and a half or so across. Foliage is lacy/fine and healthy in appearance. Love in a mist has no pests or diseases to be concerned with. It prefers full sun and consistently moist soils.

love in a mist - nigella

Native to northern Africa/southern Europe, Nigella damascena has large egg-shaped seed pods (see image below). Love in a mist produces tons of flowers per plant. While you could deadhead to extend the flowering season, I wouldn’t bother as the seed pods are radical and beautiful in their own right.

If you do not deadhead, be aware that Nigella damascena can be a rampant self-sower, leading to invasive behavior in garden beds. While this plant is perfect for relaxed gardeners or relaxed gardens (such as a cottage or meadow garden), do not plant Nigella damascena if you prefer plants to stay in bounds. People either find love in a mist’s self-seeding nature charming or maddening.

Nigella seedpod.

Scientific name: Nigella damascena
Common name(s): raggedy lady, love in a mist
Plant type: Annual
Height: 18″-30″
Native status: not native to the U.S.; native to north Africa and Europe.
Bloom period: May-June in the South; longer bloom period in northern gardens.
Winter hardiness: Not applicable – grow as annual.
Of note: Wild and interesting flowering annual has interesting seed pods. Does not like to be transplanted. Can be invasive…either deadhead or do not plant in areas where you do not mind potentially rampant self-seeding.

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