Plant of the Week: Queen Anne's Lace - "Green Mist"
Queen Anne’s Lace – “Green Mist”
Open Pollinated | Re-seeding Annual
Sturdy yet dainty; tall, but airy; crisp yet soft. All these describe the paradox of this delicate garden dictator – Queen Anne’s Lace!
Her flowers are like the fireworks you see shot up in the sky that explode into one massive burst. It twinkles brilliantly before fading and falling down one sparkle at a time.
Before we get too far along – to be clear, this is not the roadside weed (Daucus carota) you grew up with, but a more tamed and refined white wildflower relative “Green Mist” that was created for the cut flower market yielding armfuls of stunning blossoms.
The original wild species is native to Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iran, which is why this cottage garden fav of mine grows beautifully here in the low desert.
She has fern like chartreuse foliage and snow white flowers, called umbels, sitting atop sturdy three-five foot stems. One umbel is made up 20-90 mini umbellets all clustering to make what you see as one large bloom spanning two-five inches wide. The flowers have four distinct stages of bloom which all can be used for varying effects in floral arrangements and bouquets. Each stage is uniquely different – just one of the reasons why I’m smitten.
There’s much debate as to how the name Queen Anne’s Lace came about.
Could it be from Tudor England’s Queen Anne the first from Denmark (1600’s) who was a skilled lace maker often wearing fab lace collars in her portrait paintings? Upon her arrival to court she challenged the ladies in waiting to a contest to see who could make a pattern as lovely and intricate as this lacy wildflower.
Or was it the second Stuart English Queen Anne (1700’s), aka the one played by Olivia Coleman in the movie The Favourite? She allegedly pricked her finger while making lace and stained it red with blood which resembled the single red colored flower found in the middle of most wild Queen Anne’s lace.
Last, some suggest it was named a millennia prior for St Anne, the Virgin Mary’s Mother, the patron saint of lace makers and pregnant women.
Queen Anne’s Lace is the mother plant from which 15th century Dutch horticulturists cultivated the domestic carrot plants we eat today. Cousins in the plant world are dill and fennel.
The wild Queen Anne’s Lace (Daucus carota) leaves and roots can be brewed as a tea and have been used by most all cultures as a diuretic to treat the kidneys and liver as well as cure digestive ailments. Its seeds were coveted by women for centuries as the most common form of contraception.
It is a beneficial plant attracting all types of small wasps, lady bugs, lace wings, butterflies and bees. Further, its a good companion plant for blueberries and tomatoes.
Other known names: Bishop’s Weed and Lace Flower
Growing guide: Full sun exposure.
They’re easy to grow and disease resistant because they have a wildflower root lineage.
Plant seeds in the fall. It’ll take a while for the soil to warm after winter, but germination will happen and seedlings should appear in late winter/early spring. They mature in 85-95 days.
Choose a spot with an eastern or western exposure. Prepare your native soil for annual/perennial planting amending with at least 1-3” of compost, earthworm castings and kelp meal.
Most Queen Anne’s Lace grow tall, reaching heights of up to five feet. It can be rangy and wild so, think about this as you plan for spacing and location in the garden.
Water needs are moderate. Mulch to retain moisture as the temperatures rise in summer.
Maintenance and Harvest:
Harvest blossoms in the morning. Cut flowers that are ¾ of the way open as they won’t open up like a rose does after cutting. Stems should be longer than your desired final height. Trim off all excess foliage and cut the stem under water to prevent air bubbles at the stem cut and premature wilting. Add 20 drops of bleach to the 1 quart of warm water (for max water absorption) in a vase and place the stems in. Change the water every 2-3 days and re-cut the stem each time. With proper care, they could last up to a week.
To preserve as a dried flower, cut in the morning when fully bloomed with no hint of pollen shed. Air dry for 14-21 days in a dry, dark location.
Once the flowers left on the plant are spent, they will begin to dry and fold up like an umbrella. This is one of my favorite parts! This umbrella protection allows for the seeds to dry (see the picture below). They’ll look rather shabby by summer’s end. After the flowers have dried, seeds are plentiful for collection to save or for the wind to distribute.
You may get a bounty of seedlings in places you don’t desire them — if so, just pluck them out of unwanted areas. Once you get a stand of Queen Anne’s Lace – Green Mist to grow, you’ll have reseeded beds that will endure for years.
Remember - Queen Anne’s Lace grows quite tall, so think about where you place the seeds in your garden bed. Toward the back and you have a neutral screen to place a rainbow of medium to short colored plants like zinnias, roses, freesia, foxglove, sweet alyssum, lobelia, penstemon, and poppies in the front.
I equally love white flowered gardens especially for enjoyment under the full moon, you could pair with plantings of white-hued larkspur, stock, dianthus, lamb’s ear, alliums, narcissus, ranunculus and hollyhock for a stunning display of whites, chartreuse and blue-grey-greens.
*note the growing guide applies to gardening in the Phoenix Metro low or subtropical desert with minimum temperatures of 25-30º F and 151-180 days with temps above 86º F. USDA Hardiness Zone 9b, Sunset Climate Zone 13 and AHS Heat Zone 10.
** any reference as to how the plant is used medicinally are for historical purposes only. Always consult your physician or primary care provider, before ingesting any plant parts or by products.