Dames Rocket: A Merrie Olde Gillyflower

Dames Rocket, sometimes called Dames Violet or Dame’s Gilliflower, is an attractive herbaceous plant with beautiful flowers. This plant, popular for centuries, is one of the many recorded in John Gerard's The Herball or General History of Plantes, originally published in 1597:

“Dames Violets, or Queenes Gilloflowers, has large leaves of dark green color that snap slightly around the edges; beneath which sprout stalks two cubits high, covered with such similar leaves; The flowers emerge from the top of the Braunches, of a light violet color like that of the Stocke Gilloflowers, of a very sweet smell, after which small long cod appear, which contain small, long, blackish seeds. The roote is slim and thin. The white gilloflowers of the Queenes are like the last to be remembered, only that this plant produces four beautiful white flowers and the other purple. They are sown in gardens for the beauty of their flowers. They bloom especially in May and in June, the second year after sowing. "

But many plants that are beautiful and popular are also difficult, and Lady's rocket is no different. This species spreads quickly and quickly naturalizes in meadows and forests. It is often considered to be invasive.

Let us talk in more detail about this Merrie Olde Plante. If you keep it in check, you can also enjoy the "Queenes Gilloflowers"!

Good Products For Growing Lady’s Rocket:

Brief instructions on care

Dames rocketDames rocket in a field. Source: Spherical Bull

Common Name (s): Dame & # 39; s Rakete, Sweet Rocket, Dame & # 39; s Gilliflower, Rogue & # 39; s Gilliflower, Lilac, Winter Gilliflower, Damask Violet etc.
Scientific name Hesperis matronalis
Family: Brassicaceae
Zone: 3-9
Height & spread: 1 & # 39; -4 & # 39; tall and about 18 & # 39; & # 39; wide
light Full sun to partial shade
ground Well drained, tolerant of poor soils
Water: About 1 "a week
Pests & diseases: Flea beetles, snails, snails, mildew

All about Hesperis Matronalis

Purple ladies rocket flowersDames rocket is often mistaken for a phlox, but has only four petals. Source: tdlucas5000

The Dames rocket, which is native to Europe and Asia, has spread all over the world. It is often seen here in North America as both an annual garden and a wildflower.

Technically speaking, it is a delicate perennial or biennial. This species usually survives two years. In its first year it developed its structure and its foliage, its roots spread underground. But in the second year it starts to flower and this year it sows itself easily. All plants that survive a third year can also flower.

This way you see flowers every year once it has established itself in a garden. On warm days, the plant produces a sweet and unique aroma that becomes stronger towards the evening. This scent is appealing and part of the plant's popularity.

Dame's fast-branched missile can jump to a height of about 3 to 4 feet and spread out to a width of about 18 inches. The leaves are slightly hairy and form on short stems. These wedge-shaped leaves can develop a slightly toothed edge towards the base of the plant, but remain smooth-edged on the stem of the plant.

The leaves have another side effect. While slightly bitter, they are edible. This is probably part of where the term "missile" was applied to Hesperis matronalis. Arugula is a related species and since it is also known as a rocket, the name probably comes from there.

Flowering occurs from late spring to summer, most often in May and June. It is a short time in which purple or white four-petal flowers appear. Similar to Phlox, these rocket flowers are about half an inch in diameter and create a color frenzy in the plant. Some cultivated forms produce double-layer flowers, but most are single four-petaled flowers.

This member of the mustard family is developing 4-inch seed pods filled with brown seeds. When the pods dry, they break open slightly to spill the seed onto the ground. Its root system is flat and consists of a taproot surrounded by a tangle of rough secondary roots.

Hesperis matronalis has many common names that range from the Queen's Gilliflower (as described by John Gerard) to other terms. Rogues Gilliflower, mother of the evening, damask violet, summer lilac and many other names have been applied to these plants. However, it is most commonly referred to as Dames Rocket or Dames Violet.

Is Lady's Rocket Invasive?

The growth habits of the Dame rocket have been described as "explosive". While it doesn't spread sideways, the self-seeding seed pods should be removed before they dry completely to prevent further development.

The easiest way to stop the spread is to kill spent flowers before they start forming these pods. But you need to take a close look because it can still bloom when forming seed pods!

If the takeover has already started, you will need to remove the entire taproot to prevent an invading rocket plant from growing back. While the rest of the root system is easy to remove, this taproot can get quite deep. So be ready to dig a bit if it gets out of control.

Dames Rocket Care

White flower stemsThe Dame rocket is beautiful, but it can also be invasive. Source: Stephen Downes

Apart from being a bit invasive, the Dame rocket is surprisingly easy to care for. Let's go through the best conditions to guarantee success!

Light & temperature

Full sun is perfect for these plants if you are in a cooler climate, but those in warmer climates may want to provide partial shade in the afternoon to protect their plants. It grows well in zones 3-9. Much of North America falls into the lady's missile cultivation!

If possible, aim for at least six hours of sun. It is not scorching hot, longer is preferred.

This species is not frost hardy. As soon as the risk of frost is completely over, sow. A temperature range of 70 to 85 degrees is preferred for optimal growth.

Water & moisture

Constant watering about an inch a week in non-rainy weather is the best way to service your lady's missile. Make sure that excess moisture flows away freely, as damp soil can lead to root rot.

While it tolerates extra moisture indoors, most outdoor plants don't need it as long as they are watered evenly. Adding mulch to your plants will also help maintain humidity. Provide a pebble bowl with water under your pots indoors to counter the typical dry conditions in a central air environment.


Multicolored ladies rocket flowersSome varieties of Dames Violet have multi-colored flowers. Source: Milesizz

As long as the soil is well drained, Hesperis matronalis grows in it! It is tolerant of all types of soil, but offers the best performance in a mix of sandy soil and loamy soil.

It also tolerates multiple pH ranges and can grow in pH values ​​from 5 to 8. Go for a neutral area and it should be fine.


You really don't have to fertilize Lady's rocket. This plant needs the least amount of soil nutrition. Applying about one centimeter of compost around your plants once a year should be enough fertilizer for their needs.


The lady rocket spreads from seeds. Most of the seed this species produces has a germination rate of around 70%, which means that 70% of the seeds sown sprout.

Sprinkle your seeds lightly over the surface of the soil and add just enough to cover them about twice as deep. Make sure the potting soil is damp but not damp. Place your pots in a sunny place, as they need a soil temperature range of 70 to 85 degrees to germinate.

It is possible to grow Dame's rocket from cuttings, but they are not very well rooted. Using a root hormone can help them produce better roots. Root hormone is widely used in garden stores in the United States.


Most of your cut focuses on getting the plant to an appropriate height and removing dead flowers or seed pods. In late summer it is recommended to cut it to a shorter height to prevent self-seeding.


Hesperis matronalis white flowersHesperis matronalis with four petals can appear in white or purple. Source: Jon.hayes

It grows like weeds, so keeping it alive is not your main concern. But how about staying healthy? Let's talk about the few difficulties that can arise.

Growing problems

Hesperis matronalis has very few growing problems. The only thing to worry about is sunburn in midsummer. Providing some shade during the heat of the afternoon can help prevent burns.

While the white and purple flowers of hesperis matronalis are lovely, This can be invasive. Remove the seed pods before they pop open to prevent invasive spread to the rest of your landscape.


Flea beetle Find the rocket blossom and the stems of the ladies as delicious treats. Use a pyrethrin or spinosad-based spray to kill them and neem oil to prevent them.

Snails and Snails will nibble on the leaves. An organic bait for snails and snails keeps them away.


mildew is not uncommon on lady's missile. Neem oil is both a preventive and a treatment for this annoying problem.

frequently asked Questions

Queens GillyflowerThe tall stems of the Queen's "Gillyflower" can grow up to 4 feet tall. Source: Lunamurphy

Q: How does Dame's rocket spread?

A: When the seed pods open, the seeds fall to the ground around the plant. They can be worn elsewhere in the fur of passing animals.

Q: Is Hesperis Matronalis edible?

A: Yes, the flowers and the plant are both edible, but can be slightly bitter in taste. The leaves and pods can be used as herbs, while the flower is used in many dishes including salads.

The green thumbs behind this article:
Lorin Nielsen
Lifetime gardener

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