Hesperis - Dame's Rocket, Dame's Violet, Sweet Rocket
DESCRIPTION: This is the botanical name for Sweet Rocket, also known as Dame's Rocket or Dame's Violet. These perennial or hardy biennials belong to the Mustard family, Cruciferae, and have some of that plant's pungent flavor. They are originally from Japan, Europe and Asia Minor. Sweet Rocket is an old-fashioned plant that is grown in gardens and is naturalized in the lightly shaded woodlands of eastern North America. They grow from 1 to 4 feet high and have alternate, ovate, serrated leaves. Sweet Rocket has lovely sprays of fragrant purple, lavender, or white flowers, for which it is often grown. The tangy flowers may be used in salads and fruit dishes.
POTTING: Sweet Rocket won't thrive in hot, humid weather. They prefer light shade. In regions where growing seasons are long, this plant will often be exposed to enough spring cold to trigger flowering the first season. If not, the plants will go through the summer as leafy rosettes and will flower the second year. Pick the stem tips, young leaves and tender pods and use as potherbs. As mentioned previously, the flowers can be added to fruit dishes and salads.
PROPAGATION: Sow seeds directly outdoors in late autumn in mild winter climates, elsewhere, in early spring. The seedlings should be thinned to 12 or 18 inches apart.
VARIETIES: H. matronalis.
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