Miscellaneous

Dame’s Rocket Info: Learn About The Control Of Sweet Rocket Wildflower

Dame’s Rocket Info: Learn About The Control Of Sweet Rocket Wildflower


By: Jackie Carroll

Dame’s rocket, also known as sweet rocket in the garden, is an attractive flower with a delightfully sweet fragrance. Considered a noxious weed, the plant has escaped cultivation and invaded wild areas, crowding out native species. It behaves badly in the garden as well, and it is difficult to eradicate once it gets a foothold. Keep reading to learn more about the control of sweet rocket wildflower.

What are Dame’s Rocket Flowers?

So what are dame’s rocket flowers anyway? Dame’s rocket (Hesperis matronalis) is a biennial or short-lived perennial native to Eurasia. The white or purple flowers bloom from mid-spring through summer at the tips of stalks. The loose flower clusters resemble garden phlox.

Dame’s rocket sometimes finds its way into garden beds because of its strong resemblance to garden phlox. The flowers are very similar in color and appearance, but upon close inspection, you can see that dame’s rocket flowers have four petals while garden phlox flowers have five.

You should avoid planting the flower in the garden. This may sound obvious, but dame’s rocket sometimes sneaks into garden plantings if the gardener isn’t alert. Therefore, dame’s rocket control is essential.

This noxious weed is an ingredient in many wildflower seed mixes, so check the label carefully before you buy a wildflower mix. The plant may be referred to as dame’s rocket, sweet rocket, or Hesperis plant on a wildflower mix label.

Control of Sweet Rocket Wildflower

Dame’s rocket control measures call for destroying the plant before it has a chance to produce seeds. When sweet rocket in the garden is established in an area, the soil becomes infested with the seeds, so you may be fighting the weeds for several years before all of the seeds in the soil are depleted.

Pull up plants and cut off flower heads before they have a chance to produce seeds. If you pull up plants with seed pods on them, burn them or bag and discard them right away. Leaving them laying in the garden or on a compost pile gives the pods a chance to open and disburse the seeds.

Herbicides that contain glyphosate are effective against sweet rocket. Apply the herbicide in late fall while the sweet rocket foliage is still green but after native plants have gone dormant. Carefully read and follow the label instructions when using herbicides.

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Hesperis – Dames rocket, Damask-violet, Perennials Guide to Planting Flowers

Sweet Rocket is one of our most fragrant flowers which grows almost wild, as it has escaped from the gardens. Hesperis matronalis has white, flesh, or lavender-colored flowers which grow in large clusters. The plants are about 3 feet high and are bushy. All of the flowers are very sweet-scented and this is especially noticed in the evening. They bloom from June through September.


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Culinary note: Some parts of these flowers are edible. For more details about edible flowers click here .

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2 x 1 litre potted hesperis plants (T64217P)
1 x 1 litre potted hesperis plant (64216)
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What You’ll Learn

You may know H. matronalis as mother-of-the-evening, damask violet, dame’s violet, or gillyflower, a generic common name used for several fragrant flowers.

It looks like a native garden phlox, Phlox paniculata, but to be certain, count the petals.

H. matronalis has four, but phlox varieties have five. In addition, dame’s rocket has leaves that alternate along the stem while phlox leaves are arranged opposite each other.

This plant also bears some resemblance to native fireweed, Chamaenerion angustifolium.

And while fireweed also has four petals, they are narrower, and each blossom has eight distinguishing long white stamens that protrude from the center.

The seed pods of H. matronalis are especially long and narrow, another identifying feature.

For definitive identification, collect seeds for evaluation by your local agricultural extension.

Dame’s rocket is a biennial, which means it blooms in the second year of growth. After pollination and seed formation, it is a vigorous self-sower.

If it’s allowed to drop seed, you’ll soon enjoy a continuous yearly bloom, as you would with a perennial plant.

Another unique characteristic of this plant is that it bears blossoms and seed pods simultaneously.

The leaves, sprouted seeds, and dried seeds of dame’s rocket are edible. They have been used for medicinal purposes and are purported to be endowed with aphrodisiac properties.

Its names are interesting as well.

The Latin word hesperis refers to evening, the time when the flowers emit a fragrance that’s a cross between that of cloves and violets.

And matronalis comes from the Roman festival, Matronalia, a celebration of Juno, the goddess of motherhood and childbirth.

As for its common name, “dame” is no surprise, given its feminine origins. But, where does the rocket come from?

Perhaps from its edible leaves. In Europe, its cousin arugula is called “rocket.”

It is believed that this plant was introduced to North America in the 1600s, so it’s had plenty of time to make itself at home.

In the first year, plants produce leaves. They are lance-shaped with serrated margins, and form a mound at the base of the plant in a rosette shape called a basal whorl.

In the second year, hairy stems grow. They have alternating hairy leaves and end in racemes – or clusters of showy blossoms. Each has four claw-shaped petals that are wide at the top and narrow at the base.

The flowers may be magenta, pink, purple, or white. In addition to botanical species, which has one row of petals, there are cultivars with two.

Bloom times range from May to August.

H. matronalis is a fairly tall plant with stems that range from one to three feet, or sometimes four feet in height.

It has an upright, mounding growth habit with sparse branching. Mature widths are between one and two feet.

Plants grow in full sun to part shade with average soil, provided it drains well, and the roots are shallow. It’s no wonder it spreads easily along the edges of gravelly roadways.

Dame’s rocket seeds are sometimes included in wildflower mixes, so beware.


Sweet rocket

This perennial dies back to below ground level each year in autumn, then fresh new growth appears again in spring.

  • Position: full sun or partial shade
  • Soil: fertile, moist, well-drained
  • Rate of growth: average
  • Flowering period: May to June
  • Hardiness: fully hardy but short-lived

Gorgeously scented pure white flowers are held above rosettes of dark green leaves. This is a biennial or short-lived perennial that readily self-seeds, often coming true to type, so it is perfect for naturising in a wildlife garden. Like all sweet rockets it is highly attractive to bees and other beneficial insects, and the fragrant flowers perfume the air in spring and early summer evenings. They are also edible and look great sprinkled over salads. Although relatively short-lived, it self-seeds freely.

  • Garden care: Replace plants every two to three years as flowering diminishes with age. Plants will self-seed freely.
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    Sweet rocket

    Common Name: Sweet rocket
    Genus: Hesperis
    Species: matronalis
    Skill Level: Beginner
    Exposure: Full sun, Partial shade
    Hardiness: Hardy
    Soil type: Well-drained/light, Dry
    Height: 100cm
    Spread: 45cm
    Time to plant seeds: May to June

    A packet of sweet rocket seeds is likely to produce flowers varying in colour from deep rich purple, through all the paler lilac shades to white - leave them to seed themselves, and they will maintain this diversity indefinitely, gradually naturalising over a large area. The fragrance is as sweet as a violet's, and most pronounced in the evening (the night-scented stock is a close relative). It will look good in a border especially in a cottage garden and is attractive to wildlife.


    Hesperis Plant - Tips For Controlling Sweet Rocket In The Garden - garden

    Sweet Rocket or Hesperis matronalis

    This lovely scented plant is said to have been brought to England in the sixteenth century . It is a traditional cottage garden plant.

    I always like to grow a large clump near my back door so when I open the door in the evening I get a waft of their delicious scent.

    Sweet Rocket’s other names are - Dame's Violet, Damask Violet or Damask Flower, Dame's Rocket, Eveweed, Garden Rocket or I think my favourite - Mother-of-the-evening.

    Sweet Rocket is really good value in the garden as it will flower from May until late August.

    The flowers are large spikes of pastel lilac, rose or purple flowers – these have a lovely strong spicy scent - so plant some near the house or sitting area so you can enjoy it.

    For more info on pastel flowered plants for an English Garden - click here

    Plant a big clump of them for maximium effect.

    Butterflies love this plant and in the evening the scented flowers will attract moths to your garden.

    Cultivation
    Sweet Rocket is a hardy perennial (zones 3 to 9) and flowers the year after sowing.

    Grow in a sunny or partly shaded position and it will reach a height of 2 - 3 ft (60 - 92 cm).

    Prefers good rich soil and young plants will need watering to keep their roots moist.

    It will self-seed freely so it is best to deadhead if you don’t want seedlings next year. Actually cutting off the flowering spikes will encourage it to produce new stems if you are lucky.

    Grow it in the border or dotted in big clumps around the garden - it goes well with taller roses or geraniums planted in front of it.

    Sweet Rocket lasts well in water
    The dried flowers can be added to pot pourri.

    For a recipe for an English garden pot-pourri just click here

    Content copyright © 2021 by Hellie T.. All rights reserved.
    This content was written by Hellie T.. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Carol Chernega for details.


    Hesperis matronalis var. albiflora

    This perennial dies back to below ground level each year in autumn, then fresh new growth appears again in spring.

    • Position: full sun or partial shade
    • Soil: fertile, moist, well-drained
    • Rate of growth: average
    • Flowering period: May to June
    • Hardiness: fully hardy but short-lived

    Gorgeously scented pure white flowers are held above rosettes of dark green leaves. This is a biennial or short-lived perennial that readily self-seeds, often coming true to type, so it is perfect for naturising in a wildlife garden. Like all sweet rockets it is highly attractive to bees and other beneficial insects, and the fragrant flowers perfume the air in spring and early summer evenings. They are also edible and look great sprinkled over salads. Although relatively short-lived, it self-seeds freely.

  • Garden care: Replace plants every two to three years as flowering diminishes with age. Plants will self-seed freely.
  • Delivery options

    Eventual height & spread

    Notes on Hesperis matronalis var. albiflora

    "Sweet rocket - a haze of silver-white flowers adored by butterflies, bees and moths - always with a hint of violet in the day - but like white moonlight in the April gloaming" Val Bourne - Garden Writer


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