This fragrant perennial plant is usually treated as an annual, and seeds are sown out of doors in spring. If grown under glass from seeds sown in July-September, Mignonette will bloom in winter in a greenhouse. The botanical name is Reseda odorata.
How to Grow Mignonette. Mignonette is one of the most delightful of annuals; the flowers are not showy but they are deliciously scented. In many gardens some difficulty is found in the cultivation of this plant, while in others it flourishes with little attention. To ensure successful results, its needs must be carefully provided for. It must be grown in a sunny place in firm, well- drained soil which is not deficient in lime.
Clayey soil can be made suitable by digging and raking to make it friable, and by adding sand and a scattering of lime. When the soil is reasonably dry in spring, it should be trodden down firmly, for Mignonette does not flourish in loose soil. A final raking to ensure a fine surface will complete the preparation.
Light land is made suitable by mixing in some thoroughly decayed manure or compost and a scattering of lime.
When to Sow Seeds. Seeds are sown out of doors in spring where the plants are to bloom in summer, as soon as the ground is so dry that it can be prepared in the way advised. It is useless to sow in wet, ill-prepared soil.
The seeds are very small, and care is needed to avoid sowing too thickly, for that necessitates a good deal of thinning of the seedlings and is wasteful. They need but the slightest soil covering.
The seedlings must be thinned to about 5 in. between individuals, or to a greater distance if that should be found necessary. If the plants are crowded, they will bloom sparsely, and the display will be poor and short-lived.
As a Pot Plant. Mignonette will bloom in winter and early spring if grown in flowerpots in a cool greenhouse; one in which a night temperature of 45-50 degrees is maintained is suitable. Five-inch pots are drained with crocks, and filled with a compost of loam, two thirds; leaf mold, one third; and a free scattering of sand and lime. The compost must be made firm before the seeds are sown and, when pressed down, should reach to within half an inch of the rims of the pots. A few seeds are scattered on the surface and covered very lightly with sifted compost.
If kept moist and shaded from bright sunshine, the seeds will soon germinate. When well developed, and before they become crowded, the seedlings should be thinned out, until only three remain in each flowerpot. They must not be transplanted.
Some growers leave only one seedling in each
pot, and obtain a well-branched, bushy plant by pinching off the top and treating the subsequent side branches similarly; this treatment delays the blossoming.
The Best Varieties. There are many varieties of Mignonette having much larger flowers than the species or wild types; the flowers are of various colors: reddish, pale yellow and greenish-white. These varieties are listed in seedsmen’s catalogues. All are richly scented.
One of the wild types, named Reseda glauca, which has gray-green leaves, and bears greenish- white flowers, is a perennial which is sometimes grown in the hardy flower border or wild garden in European gardens and, occasionally, in botanical collections in North America.
Tree Mignonette. Although gardeners usually grow the Mignonette as an annual by raising plants from seeds every year—in spring out of doors, and in late summer and fall under glass— it is really a perennial, and can be kept growing from year to year to provide “tree” or standard Mignonette in pots for the decoration of the greenhouse; the plants will live for several years. These are not to be confused with the Mignonette Tree, Lawsonia inermis.
The quickest way to grow the Mignonette in “tree” form is to take cuttings in summer; shoots 2-3 in. long are taken off with a slight heel or piece of the old stem attached, and are inserted in a close projsagating case. When rooted, they are potted separately in small pots and subsequently repotted in 6-in. pots. During the summer the plants should be grown in a frame which is ventilated very freely, and they must be watered carefully until well rooted or they may damp off. All side shoots are taken off the plants until the desired height of stem has developed, and the latter is supported by a stick. The stem is usually allowed to reach a height of 2-3 ft. If the top is then pinched off, side shoots will form and in due course will bear flowers.
During the winter months the Mignonette “trees” must be kept in a greenhouse with a night temperature of 45-50 degrees.
The most suitable potting compost is that recommended for Mignonette in pots.