Mignonette, Reseda odorata, is an old world favourite famous for it’s perfume. Essence of mignonette is the basis of many bus perfumes and plants can be rendered to make fabric dyes.
There are nearly 60 species of these annual and perennial herbs. All are very hardy but few are spectacular in appearance. Some are almost weedy. It is the intense fragrance of the tiny green, white or russet flowers that makes them so irresistible.
These make great cut flowers and are often grown commercially for winter blooms in the cool glasshouse. They are also great for rockeries, borders, window boxes and containers where they thrive with little attention.
Now is an excellent time to plant their seed. They can be started through winter in mild climates or early spring in cold positions. Sow where the plants are to remain or into small pots and transplant very carefully once established.
They do not transplant easily. Provide a fertile, lime-rich, warm soil that does not dry out in full sun to partial shade. Germination can be slow and erratic. Gardeners often make a sowing each month to keep the perfume flowing over a longer period.
Once plants reach the second leaf stage thin to stand 20cm apart. Plants need plenty of room to spread and for good air circulation around their crowns. Try transplanting the thinnings on a cloudy, moist day and with luck they may also produce healthy plants.
Reseda grow quickly up to 45cm dependent on variety. There are erect, sprawling and dwarf forms. Removing side shoots will result in fewer but larger blooms that are superb for cutting or commercial sales.
Pinching out the centre growing tip will create a more bushy plant with many more small blooms. This makes more sense in rockeries and windy, coastal sites where tall plants might be knocked about badly.
Dead-head faded flowers to keep plants blooming longer. They often reseed which makes them a favourite in the cottage garden, annual or perennial border. Try planting mignonette in drifts or clumps near a path, doorway or window to catch that exquisite perfume.
MORE PICTURES click here...