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Dame's Rocket, Sweet Rocket

Hesperis matronalis

Family: Brassicaceae (brass-ih-KAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Hesperis (HES-per-iss) (Info)
Species: matronalis (mah-tro-NAH-lis) (Info)
View this plant in a garden




Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Characteristics:

This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds

Flowers are fragrant

Water Requirements:

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us


36-48 in. (90-120 cm)


15-18 in. (38-45 cm)


USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 C (-30 F)

USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 C (-25 F)

USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)

USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)

USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)

USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)

USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)

USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)

USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)

USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)

USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)

USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun

Sun to Partial Shade

Light Shade



Bloom Color:


White/Near White

Bloom Time:

Late Spring/Early Summer



This plant is resistant to deer

Other details:

May be a noxious weed or invasive

Soil pH requirements:

6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:


Propagation Methods:

From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall

From seed; winter sow in vented containers, coldframe or unheated greenhouse

From seed; sow indoors before last frost

Self-sows freely; deadhead if you do not want volunteer seedlings next season

Seed Collecting:

Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds

Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

, (2 reports)

Tuskegee, Alabama

Juneau, Alaska

Pottsville, Arkansas

El Sobrante, California

Elk Grove, California

Menifee, California (2 reports)

Merced, California

Redwood City, California

San Leandro, California

Santa Clara, California

Santa Rosa, California

Colorado Springs, Colorado

Woodland Park, Colorado

Keystone Heights, Florida

Tallahassee, Florida

Braselton, Georgia

Carrollton, Georgia

Valdosta, Georgia

Boise, Idaho

Aurora, Illinois

Chicago, Illinois

Divernon, Illinois

Machesney Park, Illinois

Mundelein, Illinois

Fishers, Indiana

Jeffersonville, Indiana

Shoals, Indiana

Warren, Indiana

Ames, Iowa

Kalona, Iowa

Derby, Kansas

Osage City, Kansas

Oskaloosa, Kansas

Louisville, Kentucky

Ellicott City, Maryland

Westminster, Maryland

Halifax, Massachusetts

Bay City, Michigan

Erie, Michigan

Fort Gratiot, Michigan

Grand Rapids, Michigan

Kalamazoo, Michigan

Morrice, Michigan

Portage, Michigan

Stephenson, Michigan

Thompsonville, Michigan

University Center, Michigan

Minneapolis, Minnesota (2 reports)

Saint Paul, Minnesota (2 reports)

Florence, Mississippi

Mathiston, Mississippi

Ava, Missouri

Piedmont, Missouri

Trego, Montana

Imperial, Nebraska

Millville, New Jersey

New Milford, New Jersey

Trenton, New Jersey

Whitehouse Station, New Jersey

Woodbury, New Jersey

Hillsdale, New York

Himrod, New York

Ithaca, New York

Jefferson, New York

Ogdensburg, New York

Ronkonkoma, New York

West Kill, New York

Kernersville, North Carolina

Whitsett, North Carolina

Belfield, North Dakota

Dayton, Ohio

Gambier, Ohio

Glouster, Ohio

Jamestown, Ohio

Tipp City, Ohio

Zanesville, Ohio

Enid, Oklahoma

Portland, Oregon

Salem, Oregon

Johnsonburg, Pennsylvania

Milford, Pennsylvania

Millersburg, Pennsylvania

Newtown, Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

West Newton, Pennsylvania

Tiverton, Rhode Island

Conway, South Carolina

Fort Mill, South Carolina

North Augusta, South Carolina

Simpsonville, South Carolina

Brookings, South Dakota

Murfreesboro, Tennessee

Abilene, Texas

Arlington, Texas

Fairview, Utah

Newfane, Vermont

Locust Dale, Virginia

Winchester, Virginia

Wytheville, Virginia

Cle Elum, Washington

Everett, Washington

Kalama, Washington

Olympia, Washington

Seattle, Washington

Spokane, Washington

Sprague, Washington

Vancouver, Washington

Deerfield, Wisconsin

Delavan, Wisconsin

Ellsworth, Wisconsin

Madison, Wisconsin

Onalaska, Wisconsin

Porterfield, Wisconsin

Two Rivers, Wisconsin

Watertown, Wisconsin

Jackson, Wyoming

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Jul 4, 2015, mombear52 from Madison, WI (Zone 5a) wrote:

A couple of years ago, Dames rocket showed up in my garden uninvited. At first, it was just a few plants here & there. This summer, it really took over & came very close to wiping out my entire purple coneflower plantings! Because there was so much & the plants are impossible to pull once they're as established as these are, I've spent many days cutting them off as close to the ground as I can. This fall, I will have to use a chemical to kill what's left & hope I don't kill my coneflowers in the process! Bottom line? I HATE Dames Rocket as much as garlic mustard which I pull plenty of every spring!


On May 29, 2015, EllaTiarella from Portage, MI (Zone 5b) wrote:

It's blooming for me now in Zone 6b, along with Aquilgia, Iris, Salvia 'May Night', and so on. The problem is that some of the clumps FLOP. I started with one many many years ago; now it pops up everywhere.


On Mar 22, 2014, pawdette from Two Rivers, WI wrote:

In our area here in Wisconsin , this plant is highly invasive and illegal to sell. I think it's pretty as well, but there are many areas that these have overtaken and driven out the native plants. The seeds are very easily transported from one spot to another. I've had them show up at the back of my yard where as soon as seen are taken from the ground and destroyed. They are so easily mistaken for wild phlox that I've seen people stopping along the roadside to collect some seeds. I tell them , if it's along the roadside in great numbers you can be assured that it will take over any garden you put it in without vigilant care. Also , many plants that prolific along side the road is more than likely an invasive. Be careful and check with your local authorities before planting to see if they a... read more


On Feb 4, 2014, Emma60 from Grassy Creek, NC (Zone 6a) wrote:

Hesperis is one of the most beautiful natives around. I am so tired of hearing about invasives. If someone doesn't want extra plants, just pull them up. It's a simple matter. Hesperis is colorful, long blooming, and it smells heavenly. I think a woodland garden, or a garden anywhere for that matter, full of them would be ideal.


On Feb 2, 2014, coriaceous from ROSLINDALE, MA wrote:

It's illegal to plant this species where I live and garden. This exotic species is prohibited or declared a noxious weed in three states, and both the US Forest Service and the National Park Service are asking people not to plant it:

This pretty perennial self-sows aggressively and persistently in the garden, and can crowd out other more desirable garden plants if not regularly thinned. It can spread rapidly. The seeds can lie ... read more


On Nov 18, 2013, greenneck from Paoli, IN wrote:

Colorful, but invasive. There are much better native alternatives.


On Sep 3, 2012, l6blue from Coon Rapids, MN (Zone 4b) wrote:

This is a lovely plant, but a highly aggressive invasive. It is the most noticeable woodland flower in my area.


On May 21, 2012, plant_it from Valparaiso, IN wrote:

This plant is native to Eurasia. I was hiking in a state park in southwest Michigan and there were huge strands of it crowding out the native plants.


On May 26, 2010, vans277 from Saint Paul, MN wrote:

I carefully gathered "woodland phlox" seeds from a nearby hillside. Last year I had a carpet of fuzzy plants, not bad looking. This year I have wonderful flowers with great smell: Dame's Rocket! Next time I gather seed, I'll bring my wildflower identification book along!
I'll miss the wonderful flowers on long, waving stalks, but this plant completely crowded out all of the biennial Colorado wildflowers planted with it. I'll enjoy this fellow on the nearby hillside, not on mine.


On Nov 1, 2009, Tropicool from Orange Park, FL (Zone 9a) wrote:

This was one of our favorite plants when we lived in Ohio, especially after we moved to the country. Every spring we used to love looking at the purple or white clumps at the edge of the woods. Even in Central Ohio sunshine it seemed to like the bright shade at the edge of the woods. Dame's Rocket added a nice splash of color to the Ohio springtime. Not sure how it will do in the Florida heat, but I just added it to my "Want" list.

I love Florida, but I miss Gambier...


On Jun 13, 2009, RosemaryA from Toronto, ON (Zone 5b) wrote:

This is a very invasive plant in southern Ontario:
From the Invasive Exotic Species Ranking for Southern Ontario

Category 1
Aggressive invasive exotic species that can dominate a site to exclude all other species and remain dominant on the site indefinitely. These are a threat to natural areas wherever they
occur because they can reproduce by means that allow them to move long distances. Many of these are dispersed by birds, wind, water, or vegetative reproduction.

These are the top priority for control, but control may be difficult. Eradication may be the only option for long-term success.


On Aug 19, 2008, gsteinbe from Trenton, NJ wrote:

I know that Dame's Rocket is technically an invasive exotic, but I love this plant. It blooms just as the Forget-Me-Nots and Pink Dogwood finish, filling the garden with beautiful purple blooms and wonderful evening fragrance, and they keep blooming for a long, long time. Because I grow mine in light but pretty much constant shade, I have a little trouble with flopping (but I refuse on principle to stake anything). The plants have generally lived 2-4 years, but they haven't always reseeded as readily as I'd like or as expected (especially given their reputation for invasiveness). I think that they've just flopped over, gotten their stems crimped, and not finished the process of making seed (and this lack of seed production may explain why individual plants have sometimes lived conside... read more


On May 30, 2008, Jsorens from Buffalo, NY (Zone 6a) wrote:

Contrary to popular opinion, this species is not native to the U.S. and actually invades wild areas everywhere but the Deep South. Check out the plants.usda.gov site for more info.


On Apr 13, 2008, maccionoadha from Halifax, MA (Zone 6a) wrote:

This plant is Prohibited in Massachusetts and Banned in Connecticut.


On Jun 15, 2007, kmenzel from Saint Paul, MN wrote:

Although beautiful, this plant is an invasive exotic. It has completely taken over the woods at my parents' house near White Bear Lake, MN. I just read (June 15, 2007) that the noxious weed removal crews at the Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden in Minneapolis are switching their target this weekend from Garlic Mustard to Dame's Rocket. I have ONE left in my yard and am making sure it does not make any seeds. Mission accomplished. If you like this flower type, get some native phlox or a garden phlox cultivar.


On May 30, 2007, klynslis from Grand Rapids, MI wrote:

This plant is invasive in Michigan. It completely takes over the forest's edge and roadside areas where varieties of other plants used to grow before.

They smell wonderful. They're pretty. They grow in monolithic stands that turn the soil as hard as a rock. Hmm... maybe we could use them to kill off tree-of-heaven.


On Apr 3, 2007, MitchF from Lindsay, OK (Zone 7a) wrote:

This is a great plant - I never water and they grow like crazy - bloom nad bloom but I never ever ever have found a new baby plant away from the parent plant. At least here in North Texas a great plant.


On Jan 31, 2007, bluespiral from (Zone 7a) wrote:

Dames Rocket has colonized an overgrown road to an abandoned ruin in a nearby woods that makes the most incredible color stream in shafts of light coming down through the trees of white to pale blush pink to deeper blue-y rose to purple. Quite a sight and treat for the nose.

The deer population rules this part of the woods, so this flower must be pretty deer resistant.

A neighbor pairs the huge purple globes of this flower with another flower with giant, double, white goblets: Peony 'Festiva Maxima' and repeats this twosome all up and down a pair of matching borders along a grassy lane.


On Jul 19, 2006, Anitabryk2 from Long Island, NY (Zone 6b) wrote:

This plant wintersowed nicely.


On Jul 16, 2006, bloomsbury from Stirling
Canada wrote:

I adore this plant. The scent, the color, the height. It can do as it pleases in my garden. In April, I just move it where I want it.
I let it go to seed right on the stalk. A bit of cheesecloth wrapped around to top of the stalk will keep most of the seeds from flying around every which way. A few always have a "get out of jail free" card though and hide behind the roses. In early May, I have last years seeds saved to propagate (I don't even freeze them) and by late July, I have plants large enough to set out. They flower the following season, so it's not every other year. They are hardy little beggers and they give us a great deal of pleasure. Always an impressive display. In southern Ontario, they grow about 4' high, sometime a bit taller. Here, in the wild, it grows in... read more


On Apr 28, 2006, MalvaFan from Morrice, MI wrote:

Dame's Rocket has an exquisive fragrance and it is trying to take over sections of my lawn/garden though mowing keeps it at bay. Being a biennial you don't get to enjoy the display every year though.


On Feb 5, 2006, Gabrielle from (Zone 5a) wrote:

This is very pretty and sweetly scented. It does self-seed, but I have not found it to be a problem as long as I keep ahead of them.


On May 27, 2005, paste592 from Westminster, MD (Zone 6b) wrote:

I'd heard Dame's Rocket described as invasive, too, so I was careful not to plant it in my loamy beds -- instead I planted it at and just inside the edges of the woodlands. It's flourishing, but not invading. Matter of fact, it is so well-behaved that I just ordered some more. The white makes a wonderful companion for woodland phlox, and the blue is gorgeous against the celadine poppy. My woodland garden is prettier than my beds -- and this great plant pulled it together! Please invade, anytime!


On May 22, 2005, Baldwin from Newtown, PA (Zone 6a) wrote:

It's growing wild in my yard. Thought it was a weed. But it is already (late May) 4 feet tall and the flower is beautiful. As nice as anything that I paid for and planted in my perennial bed. I am thinking I should dig some up and move into the bed, but if it is invasive that would be a stupid thing to do.


On May 13, 2005, berrygirl from Braselton, GA (Zone 7b) wrote:

I am growing this for the first time this year. I don't remember planting it, and I almost pulled the plants up in the spring before they bloomed. I only recently found out what it is. I am so glad I didn't trash them! The fragrance is great and the flowers are pretty.


On Jul 6, 2004, Toxicodendron from Piedmont, MO (Zone 6a) wrote:

I have grown Hesperis matronalis for several years now, and really like it.
Invasiveness can be controlled by deadheading after blooming and therefore eliminating the excessive seed production. This also encourages a second bloom period, if you leave most of the flower stalk and only cut off the old flower heads. Aphids like this plant, but can be knocked off with a strong blast of water from the garden hose. If grown in shady areas, the tall plants will lean toward the sun and may need staking. If you desire more plants, harvest some seed pods before they split open and just toss them in the vicinity...they usually sprout by late winter and might bloom by the next year (biennials or short-lived perennials). I have also propagated them from small plants that arise on the flower ... read more


On Jul 4, 2004, Joan from Belfield, ND (Zone 4a) wrote:

Beautiful flowers, but it is a bit invasive in my gardens. I started with one plant and now have them growing everywhere. I am getting it under control by digging up the unwanted plants and making sure that the ones left don't go to seed. For that reason, I gave it a neutral instead of a negative

Update June 14, 2009 Apparently digging the unwanted plants isn't enough to control them. The seeds seem to have the ability to lay dormant for many years and germinate when the conditions are right. I had this plant eradicated from my garden, but they are back again this year in full force after adequate rainfall. I'm changing my rating from neutral to negative.


On Jun 18, 2004, CatskillKarma from West Kill, NY wrote:

This plant is a common wildflower here in the Catskills. It grows by roadsides, ponds, in meadows, etc. and self seeds into stunning colonies. I have some in semi shade in my wild garden where it self-seeds nicely in wet clay soil, and competes with grasses, asters, and goldenrod quite successfully.


On Jun 17, 2004, Raider from Williston, ND wrote:

After plucking one of these stunning flowers from a small coulee east of my home, I took it to my county extension agent for identification. He had to contact ND State University to get an ID. I first noticed the plant last year on a walk around our property. It was just one 10'x10' spot where it was growing and it was a gorgeous blast of color in an otherwise grass dominated coulee. I was pretty thrilled to find out that is only classified as an invasive weed and not a noxious one. Bottom-line...it gets to live!! The plants are very robust, very bright magenta and about 3-4 feet tall. I have yet to see any others in North Dakota, but I'll be keeping a keen eye out for them now.


On May 1, 2004, gardenwife from Newark, OH (Zone 5b) wrote:

Heavenly fragrance! It arrived as a volunteer and I've been enjoying it ever since.


On Jun 11, 2003, GU34C34 from Lynchburg, VA wrote:

I love this plant in my garden, however now that it seems to have stopped blooming.


On Jun 10, 2003, whitejade wrote:

I first saw sweet rocket growing wild by the roadside and transplanted some to my garden. I love the fragrance and they have reseeded themselves quite nicely in wilder areas of my property. I would be careful in a formal bed as they can be strong growers and can take over when conditions are to their liking. They are best used for naturalizing on slopes and in wooland areas. They like a well drained soil and once established will reseed and come back for years.

The similar orange ones mentionned above are English wallflowers, Erysimum cheiri, some of which are biennal. They too have a wonderful frangrance.


On May 17, 2003, asturnut from Anchorage, AK (Zone 4b) wrote:

Hellooo.... can you say agressive!!! I have hesperis in two parts of my garden, one side clay, the other loamy. In clay the plant is pitiful and small, about 12" tall, but in the loam it is almost 5 feet tall by 4 feet wide and it's choking out my other plants. I don't think it's wise to let it set seed unless you want it to take over.


On Apr 8, 2003, Kelli from L.A. (Canoga Park), CA (Zone 10a) wrote:

Supposedly this was the favorite flower of Marie Antoinette.


On Apr 7, 2003, rrizzi28 from Knoxville, TN wrote:

This is a great garden plant in Tennessee. It gets quite tall - I had one that was about 5 ft. tall last year, but most are a bit shorter. It deals with the heat and dryness of summer very well.

Mine originally grew from a wildflower seed mix purchased at Walmart. I swear that I also had one that was a bright orange, but I can't find out anything about it online. The foliage was similar, and the blossom was the same shape and size. The plant was much shorter, though, only about 2 ft. tall. Sadly, I don't have it anymore because *someone* weed-wacked it one too many times... Does anyone know what this plant may have been?


On Jan 4, 2001, jody from MD &, VA (Zone 7b) wrote:

The genus Hesperis has 60 species. Matronalis is grown for its flowers that are very fragrant on humid evenings. The leaves are smooth, narrow and oval. The flowerheads are branching, colors are white to lilac and blossoms in summer. Grows 12" to 36" high and spreads about 24". Best grown in full sun with moist well draining soil, soil should be neutral to slightly alkaline. Propagate by seed, or cuttings. Hardy zones 3-9. Plants sometimes lose their vigor and are best renewed every 2-3 years. Check for slugs and snails.