The dame’s rocket plant is also known as Hesperis matronalis and belongs to the Brassicaceae plant family. This family of plants includes arugula, broccoli, and mustard. Native to Europe, it was first brought to the United States in the seventeenth century as a plant valued for its ornamental importance. Other names for this plant include damask violet, dame’s violet or gillyflower.
The plant gets its name from the Latin word ‘Hesperis,’ which means evening, and the word ‘matronalis,’ which is the celebration of Juno, the goddess of motherhood and childbirth. As it is a nectar-rich plant, Hesperis matronalis attracts bees, beneficial insects, butterflies/moths, and other pollinators. This plant has no reported toxicity to any animals. It is a safe plant that is used the world over for many things.
Features of Dame’s Rocket Plant
This plant has a lot of loose clusters of flowers that are fragrant, and smell like a mixture of cloves and violet. These flowers are pinkish-purple in color; however, they can sometimes be white, too, and typically have 4 petals. The flowering season is from May to August. The plant is able to produce flowers and seeds on any flower cluster at the same time.
The basal stalked leaves of this plant are alternately arranged and are slightly hairy. The leaves are 5 inches in length and 1.5 inches wide. They have a pointed tip and have fine teeth along the edges. This plant also bears fruit that is a thin pod, 4 inches in length. Its foliage is medium green in color.
It is a biennial plant that can grow to a height of 2 to 4 feet and spreads 1.5 to 2 feet. It is a highly invasive plant that naturalized itself in moist wooded areas but can also invade most open areas. It is considered to be a wildflower or a noxious weed. It is very aggressive, and self sows prolifically. Dame’s rocket plant grows upright and requires very less care and maintenance.
Cultivation of Dame’s Rocket Plant
This plant is relatively easy to grow, mainly due to its invasive nature. It has amazing seed production, which is why it spreads quickly wherever it is grown. It can grow to be healthy in full sun or partial shade but needs well-drained soil that is moist and is neutral or alkaline. For healthy growth, it must be ensured that the soil is not soggy. The USDA hardiness zones for this plant are 4 to 9. The seeds should be sown outdoors around 2 months before the heavy fall frost. At this stage, an ample amount of light should be ensured so that the plant can germinate well.
It takes approximately 21 to 28 days on average for flowers to emerge. When it comes to fertilization, this plant needs to be fertilized once every 4 to 6 weeks. This plant can attract flea beetles, slugs, and snails, and is prone to diseases like viruses and mildew. In case the plant is struck by disease, organic insect repellents and fungicides should be used to cure the problem. After the flowers fade, the foliage should be cut back in order to ensure that the plant does not self-seed. It may also require staking.
Uses of the Dame’s Rocket Plant
This plant belongs to the mustard family and has been used medicinally for many years to promote urination and induce sweating. However, there is no scientific evidence to confirm this. The leaves contain vitamin C and can be used to prevent scurvy. The seeds of this plant act as an effective cure for stings and serpent bites. It is also used to cure freckles when the seeds are mixed with vinegar.
Apart from that, the leaves are edible and used the world over in salads. Like the leaves, the seeds are edible as well. This plant is also eaten by caterpillars and is a source of nectar for butterflies and hummingbirds. The flowers can be used for their fragrance. They can make any room smell very pleasant.
Types of Dame’s Rocket Plants
There are a few varieties of this plant. Some of them are discussed below.
This variety, also known as sweet rocket, is characterized by white flowers above dark green leaves. It is a short-lived perennial or biennial that self-seeds and is ideal for planting in gardens. The flowers are very fragrant and give off a very sweet smell in the garden, and this plant attracts a lot of insects and bees.
It is an edible plant, and the leaves of this plant are mostly used in salads. Its USDA hardiness zones are 3 to 8. This variety requires full sun or partial shade to grow into a healthy plant. Fertile soil that is moist and well-drained can ensure that this plant gets all the nutrients it needs. It has an average growth rate and the flowering season of this variety is from May to June.
This plant can grow to a height of 0.9 meters and spreads 0.45 meters. As the flowering of these plants goes down with age, they should be replaced every 2 to 3 years. To get the most out of this plant’s stunning visual beauty, it should be planted with the Iris Tropic Night plant. This is due to the colors of both plants blending well together.
Albiflora ‘Alba Plena’
This variety has white double flowers that are pleasantly fragrant and showy. It is a biennial or a short-lived perennial plant that has leaves in a deep green color. The leaves are 4 to 8 inches long and are elliptic in shape. The plant’s foliage is not evergreen. Small flowers show up in the blooming season, which is late spring to summer.
This variety of dame’s rocket plant is native to Southern Europe, Asia, and Russia. It belongs to the Brassicaceae family and grows to a height of 3 feet. It spreads 1.5 feet in width and is a low maintenance plant, which means that it doesn’t require much care for it to grow or thrive. The USDA hardiness zones for this variety are 4 to 9, and full sun or part shade are both ideal for the healthy growth of this plant, alongside sandy loam or loam with a pH of 6.5 to 7.5. The plant should get more than 6 hours of continuous sunlight each day. Adding to that, it needs an average amount of water. The soil should be kept moist, and care should be taken to ensure the soil is not clogged by overwatering, as this can destroy the plant.
Water-soluble or quick release fertilizers should be used once every two weeks in the growing season. If organic fertilizer is being used, then the directions on the label need to be followed. This variety is clump-forming and has a medium growth rate.
Lilacina Flore Pleno
Belonging to the genus Hesperis, this variety is characterized by purple or double lilac flowers. It reaches a maximum height of 80 centimeters and is 1.5 feet in width, and is an evergreen perennial. The color of its foliage is deep green. The blooming season for the plant is from May and June. Part shade or part sun is best for this plant.
This plant is rather low maintenance with average water requirements, owing to the fact that it retains moisture very well. Its USDA hardiness zones are 4 to 9. Sandy loam or loam with a pH range from 6.5 to 7.5 ensures that this plant gets all the nutrients it needs to grow healthily. It is not poisonous to animals.
This variety of dame’s rocket plant may require regular fertilizing so that it remains healthy. A water-soluble or temperature-controlled, slow-release fertilizer should ideally be used. In the initial stages or when the seeds of this plant are sown, more water should be given to this plant. Later on, it can do with much less water.
It is a deciduous perennial that has twining leaf stalks and showy flowers in a beautiful purple color. Some of the flowers have very attractive seed heads in the autumn season. The flowers are bell-shaped and are small or medium in size. They show up in summer or early autumn and are typically 5 centimeters in width. This plant is hardy in USDA zone 6, and its foliage is deep green in color. Full sun or partial shade are both ideal for the healthy growth of this plant.
Moist but well-drained soil that is either neutral or alkaline can ensure the healthy growth of this plant. The soil can be chalk, clay, sand, or loam. The plant can grow up to a height of 1.5 to 2.5 meters and spread 0.5 to 1 meter. It takes around 2 to 5 years for this variety to grow to its ultimate height. This plant should be propagated by layering or semi-hardwood cuttings. If you’re looking to get the most out of this plant, then you should know that it looks best in wall side borders.
Pruning ensures that this plant will look healthy for a longer period of time. Aphids, caterpillars, and earwigs can be a problem for this particular variety of dame’s rocket plant. It can also suffer from a disease called clematis slime flux. Proper care, if taken, can ensure that this plant stays away from this disease.
This cultivar is also known as the ‘Wreck of the Hesperis.’ It is not a very common variety of the dame’s rocket plant, but nonetheless, it exists. The flowers of this plant bloom from May to July, which is the blooming season of this plant. The flowers are whitish or pale mauve in color. It grows up to a height of 55 centimeters and is hardy in USDA zone 7. This plant needs full sun or partial shade to grow properly. Moist but well-drained soil can ensure that this plant gets the nutrients it needs to grow.
Dame’s Rocket Variegated
This is a hardy perennial that grows up to 60 centimeters in height. It belongs to the Cruciferae family. To grow this plant, the seeds should be sown onto good soil-based compost to their own depth. They can be sown at any time, and the germination is much faster if the temperature is ideally kept between 15 to 20 degrees Celsius.
This plant has grayish leaves and small flowers. It grows to a height of almost 50 to 100 centimeters. This variety also needs full sun to grow along with moist soil, in order to ensure that the plant gets the nutrients it needs to grow healthily. It has an average growth rate and requires a medium amount of water to grow. It is a perennial or biennial variety that is very widely used. It attracts a lot of butterflies and bees.
Dame’s rocket plant is a popular plant worldwide due to its pretty flowers and evergreen foliage. The flowers give off an amazing fragrance which can make gardens smell lovely. It also has many medicinal and ornamental uses. The leaves of this plant have been a top pick for salads due to their amazing taste. All in all, this plant is a must-have for a beautiful garden!