APRIL 28, 2021HOW TO GROW: AMMI (FALSE QUEEN ANNE’S LACE)

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GROW YOUR OWN CUTTING GARDEN: SUCCESS FROM SEED TO VASE

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Pronunciation: am-ee

One of the biggest “newbie” flower gardening mistakes I see is not growing enough “filler” type flowers for bouquets.

I know, I know… it’s easy to get starry eyed over all those big blooming “focal” flowers, like Sunflowers, Zinnias and Dahlias… but a bouquet made with only big focal flowers can easily look a tad gaudy and overpowering.

In order to have well balanced bouquets and arrangements with visual interest, it’s important to grow some flowers whose soul purpose is to complement and enhance the focal flowers.

Ammi (False Queen Anne’s Lace) does this beautifully. It looks great with almost any type of flower and adds some much needed volume, texture and whimsy.

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You may have noticed the wild Queen Anne’s Lace (Daucus carota) growing in meadows and roadsides. Another name for this plant is Wild Carrot, and yes, if you pull up the root, you’ll see and smell that it is indeed a white carrot!

Queen Anne’s Lace grows wild in our area. In fact, the field that is currently our U-Pick Flower Garden was an entire field of Queen Anne’s Lace when we moved to farm nearly a decade ago. It certainly was beautiful!

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Gah! My kids were just babies. Now my son has a mustache and is taller than me… and my daughter is the same size as me. People, how does this happen?!? Excuse me while I have a moment…

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For floral use, though, most people prefer to grow the more sophisticated and cultivated varieties of Ammi, which are related to wild Queen Anne’s Lace.

Let’s look at the Pros and Cons of growing Ammi for cut flower use.

PROS

  • They are fairly easy to grow.
  • They are versatile in bouquets and arrangements.
  • They attract pollinators.
  • They will reseed themselves, if you allow them to. 

CONS

  • They are not the longest blooming flower. You’ll need to plant them a few times over the spring/summer to have a continual harvest.
  • They should be netted to keep them from falling over.
  • They have irritating sap that can cause contact dermatitis when harvested on a sunny day (more about this later!).  
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CHOOSING SEEDS

There are 3 main categories of Ammi that are used for floral work. 

1. Ammi majus: This type most closely resembles wild Queen Anne’s Lace – light, airy and delicate. On our farm, this type does best in the spring/early summer. 

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2. Ammi visnaga: This type is much more robust and fuller than Ammi majus. It also tends to be more green than white. This type is sturdy and adds lots of structure to bouquets. Unfortunately, it also has a distinct smell that some people don’t like. On our farm, this type blooms well even in the heat of summer and into fall. 

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3. Dara/Daucus carota: Technically not “Ammi”, you’ll often find this in seed catalogs under the Ammi category. This type is a unique variety of wild carrot. The blooms come in a range of pink, purple and white. I’ve seen all sorts of names for this flower (no one seems to know exactly what to call it!), so search for “Dara”, “Ammi dara”, “Daucus”, “Daucus carota”, “False Queen Anne’s Lace”, “Chocolate Queen Anne’s Lace”, “Ornamental Carrot”, “Chocolate Flower”  and even “Chocolate Lace Flower”!

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Here are a few of my favorite Ammi to grow for cut flower use: 

  • “White Dill” (Ammi majus)
  • “Graceland” (Ammi majus)
  • “Green Mist” (Ammi visnaga)
  • “Dara” (Daucus carota)
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HOW TO SOW

Ammi generally prefers cooler weather and really shines in the spring/early summer. While it can handle warm days, it wants cool nights.  

The plants are quite cold hardy and can handle some frost.

If you live in a warm climate, sow the seeds in the fall and they will take off early next spring. If you live in a cold climate, sow the seeds as early as you can in the spring (when the soil has thawed). 

Transplants or Direct Sow? 

Ammi can be transplanted or direct sown. 

Transplants should be sown indoors 4-6 weeks before you plant them out. Keep the seeds in the fridge or freezer for 2 weeks before sowing (this mimics winter weather).

Remember, they want cold nights, so if you are using heat mats for your seedlings, be sure to turn off the heat at night or remove the tray at night. They can be transplanted out BEFORE the threat of frost is over, since they are cold hardy.

If you don’t want to mess around with moving trays every day (I don’t!!!), then simply direct sow when you want them to grow as early in the spring as possible.

Ammi prefers to be direct sown, so this method is the simplest and easiest. You might as well save yourself some time and growing space, and simply direct sow the seeds!

If you want to try Winter Sowing, Ammi is a great candidate for this method.

Ammi is a “self-sowing” hardy annual, which means if you leave a few seed heads to mature on the plants, new plants will pop up the following spring. Bonus!

PLANT SPACING

Ammi can be grown at 3-12” spacing… so if you direct sowed and your plants are crowded, don’t fret.

I find Dara needs the least amount of spacing (grows very upright), Ammi majus needs about 6-9” spacing, and Ammi vignaga does better at 12” spacing (widely branching plants).

Netting is helpful, as plants will grow 36” or more. We use Hortonova trellis netting stretched tight over the bed with stakes.

Yup. It’s a real pain harvesting those stems in the netting… But it’s better than having the plants falling over! Hint: Pull the stem down through the netting, not up.

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GROWING ON

Ammi is not a particularly long lasting flower in the field. Don’t expect it to bloom all summer long.  

In order to harvest Ammi longer, I like to plant 2 successions of Ammi majus (spring/early summer blooming) 2-3 weeks apart, followed by 2 successions of Ammi visnaga (summer/fall blooming) 2-3 weeks apart.

Dara seems to do better as a spring/early summer blooming plant, but occasionally I can get some to bloom into the fall.

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STAGE OF HARVEST

Recognizing the correct stage of harvest for Ammi can be a little tricky.

Harvest too early, and they will droop over and never recover.

It’s better to err on the side of too mature than too early. Fortunately, even if you harvest them too mature, they still look beautiful with their seed pods. 

Take a look at the bloom. If it is flat or concave (sides higher than center), it is not ready.

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If the bloom is domed or convex (sides lower than center), then it’s ready! 

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SPECIAL NOTE:

When you cut a stem of Ammi, sap will come out of the cut end. Do NOT allow this sap to come into contact with your skin, especially on a sunny day. Ammi can cause contact dermatitis on some people, called Phytophotodermatitis, a reaction caused by contact with a plant sap/substance that reacts to sunlight.

When the sap gets on your skin and is exposed to the sun, it can cause burns and blisters. While usually not painful, it can cause scarring that lasts for months. Ask me how I know this.

Usually, I wear long pants, long sleeves and gloves when harvesting (AND harvest it before sunrise or after sunset), but on this one day, we had to harvest it 9am and it was 90+ degrees. I learned a hard lesson to always wear long pants/sleeves, even when it’s suffocating (and this is exactly why farm workers wear long pants/sleeves when harvesting carrots, celery and other plants). 

The blisters were not painful, but I had scars/dark patches on my legs/forearms for about 3 months.

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POST HARVEST CARE

Immediately upon harvest, allow the Ammi to rest in a bucket of water in a cool, dark place.

After resting overnight, stems should be ready for arranging!

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QUESTIONS?

Ask them here and I’ll get back to you!

READY FOR MORE?

If you’re serious about growing the garden of your dreams this year, register for my online course, “Backyard Cutting Garden 101”. You’ll find everything you need to plan, grow, harvest and arrange your stunning blooms. I can’t WAIT to help you grow! Click on the button below for all the details.I’M READY TO GROW!






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COMMENTS (13)

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Betsy Chapman 2 days ago · 0 Likes  

To keep those types of blisters from scarring use Arnica gel. It also helps to reduce bruises quickly. It prevents the dark scarring from bruises in fragile skin.

Melissa 2 weeks ago · 0 Likes  

I adore these flowers, I think the spot in my garden was a bit shady, so have a sunnier spot now. I had no idea so much care was needed to protect your skin when harvesting, thank you

Lori Hernandez 2 days ago · 0 Likes  

Yes, long sleeves are a smart idea when harvesting them!

Rachael 2 months ago · 0 Likes  

Thanks for the helpful info! Some of the blooms on my Chocolate Lace are starting to droop and die. I am watering it :). Know what this is? Insect?

Lori Hernandez 2 months ago · 0 Likes  

It’s probably a disease, if they are looking sickly. Is the whole plant “melting”? The blooms do only last a couple of days on the plant. I continually plant more seeds over the summer to have a constant supply of blooms.

Sheri Robinson 3 months ago · 0 Likes  

I failed twice at starting them indoors 🙁
I direct seeded them in the garden yesterday. I will start some indoors tonight and take them out of the grow room at night. Maybe it was too warm in there 24 hours a day? When you direct seed them in the garden do you do it in landscape fabric or just in rows of soil? thank you for your help!

Lori Hernandez 3 months ago · 0 Likes  

Hi Sheri, we usually direct sow the seeds into the holes in the landscape fabric. Just be sure to keep the soil evenly moist until they germinate. You could lay pieces of burlap or something similar to help keep the soil from drying out too much.

Erin 3 months ago · 0 Likes  

I have been trying to grow these, this was so helpful! Thanks Lori!

Lori Hernandez 3 months ago · 0 Likes  

Erin, you’re welcome! They can be a little tricky to figure out, but once you do, they are fairly easy to germinate and grow. Best of luck!

Debby Wright 3 months ago · 0 Likes  

Wonderful article.. Thank you!!

Lori Hernandez 3 months ago · 0 Likes  

You’re welcome!

holly childers 3 months ago · 0 Likes  

The when you harvest was very helpful! That was my struggle with this flower last year. Maybe I will give it a try again:)

Lori Hernandez 3 months ago · 0 Likes  

Yes! The stage of harvest can be tricky to figure out. Err on the side of a bit over mature. They may shed some petals, but I don’t mind that. I think of it as flower confetti ;)Newer PostHow to Grow: CelosiaOlder PostHow to Create a Sensory Garden!

Rajib Mridha

Rajib Mridha

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