It's time to read and vote for your favorite article in the 2013 Write-Off Contest! The four finalist's articles are featured in the May 13 newsletter and can be found through this link. Hurry! Voting ends May 18.
Hardiness: 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: Violet/Lavender White/Near White
Bloom Time: Late Spring/Early Summer
Other details: May be a noxious weed or invasive This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds Flowers are fragrant Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater Self-sows freely; deadhead if you do not want volunteer seedlings next season This plant is resistant to deer
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: Non-patented
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
Seed Collecting: Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored
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.
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
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.
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 considerably longer than 2 years). This year, for the first time, they did much better, not flopping as much (because I cut and took more of the tallest early flowerheads into the house), and I think they made more seed. So, we'll see if they are more vigorous next year. If not, I'll buy seed and resow. They're hardy, pretty, fragrant, undemanding, and timely. Despite being labelled an exotic, they have also long been a staple of American gardens -- an heirloom species from the 19th century. So, while not native, they're traditional.
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 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.
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 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 shades of pale pink to deep purple, but usually about 2" to 3' high. It is a plant that needs to be kept in check, but very fine and deserving of any garden. Here it is mid July and there's still has a bit of flower left at the top. Been flowering since early May.
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 stems occasionally.
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.
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.
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 5a) 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 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.
This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:
, (2 reports) Tuskegee, Alabama Juneau, Alaska El Sobrante, California Laguna West-lakeside, 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 Dasher, Georgia Boise, Idaho Aurora, Illinois Chicago, Illinois Machesney Park, Illinois Mundelein, Illinois Fishers, Indiana Oak Park, 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 Stephenson, Michigan Thompsonville, Michigan University Center, Michigan Arden Hills, Minnesota Minneapolis, Minnesota (2 reports) St Paul, Minnesota Florence, Mississippi Mathiston, Mississippi Ava, Missouri Piedmont, Missouri Trego, Montana Imperial, Nebraska Laurel Lake, New Jersey New Milford, New Jersey Trenton, New Jersey White House Station, New Jersey Woodbury, New Jersey Cayuga Heights, New York Copake Lake, New York Himrod, New York Jefferson, New York Ogdensburg, New York Ronkonkoma, New York West Kill, New York Kernersville, North Carolina Belfield, North Dakota Dayton, Ohio Gambier, Ohio Glouster, Ohio Jamestown, Ohio North Zanesville, Ohio Tipp City, Ohio Salem, Oregon Johnsonburg, Pennsylvania Milford, Pennsylvania Millersburg, Pennsylvania Newtown Grant, Pennsylvania Philadelphia, Pennsylvania West Newton, Pennsylvania Tiverton, Rhode Island Conway, South Carolina Fort Mill, South Carolina North Augusta, South Carolina Brookings, South Dakota Murfreesboro, Tennessee Abilene, Texas Dalworthington Gardens, Texas Fairview, Utah Newfane, Vermont Locust Dale, Virginia Winchester, Virginia Wytheville, Virginia Cle Elum, Washington Everett, Washington Kalama, Washington Millwood, Washington Seattle, Washington Sprague, Washington Walnut Grove, Washington Brice Prairie, Wisconsin Deerfield, Wisconsin Delavan, Wisconsin Ellsworth, Wisconsin Porterfield, Wisconsin Watertown, Wisconsin Hoback, Wyoming