Garden View: Fragrance in the garden

BY BARBARA STORZ

Reseda odorata, also called Garden Mignonette, is an old-fashioned plant found in southern gardens, including those of South Texas.

It is native of the Mediterranean basin; however, explorers introduced the plant throughout the world. Legend has it that it arrived in France via Napoleon, who gifted the plant for his wife after a trip to Egypt.

It is believed to have been introduced to England in the early 1700s, when it became a staple in cottage gardens, making a great addition to cut flower arrangements. It is also a perfect pollinator plant, supporting butterflies and bees.

The reseda is famous for its spicy-sweet fragrance, and the essential oil of this plant is regularly used in the perfume industry by Armani, Burberry and Christian Dior, just to name a few of the famous brands.

In northern climates, the plant is listed as a hardy annual, but in South Texas, it is a short-lived perennial. You can place reseda in soil that is enriched with a bit of compost. It likes soil that is neutral or slightly alkaline, so a perfect plant for our environment.

It will grow to approximately 2 to 2.5 feet in height. Reseda should be planted about a foot apart. It requires regular irrigation in the summer, but does not like wet roots, so it needs to be in well-drained soils.

Reseda also goes well in containers. In South Texas, it is best to keep the plant shaded, especially during the summer. The plant blooms in summer, when many plants are fading in our heat.

The flowers of the plant are white- to cream-colored inflorescence and are a spike-like raceme. Deadhead the flowers to extend the flowering period and pinch back the plant to encourage bushier growth. When bringing in the flowers, strip the foliage that will fall below the water level and place them in water immediately.

If you would like to purchase reseda odorata for a fragrant Father’s Day gift or just to add to your pollinator garden, you can find them at the Rancho Lomitas Nursery booth of the Growing Growers Farmers Market, which opens at 9 a.m. today.

The market is located in Firemen’s Park, on the corner of 1st Street and Business 83 in McAllen and it has a full line of locally grown vegetables, herbs and fruits, along with eggs, local honey and baked goods.

Barbara Storz is a local horticulturist. You can listen to her gardening program every at 7 a.m. Saturdays on 710 KURV Radio. E-mail her at bstorz@rcommunications.com.