Mentioned in 1629 and planted in the gardens at Monticello by Thomas Jefferson, this heirloom variety has almost-black flowers with a hint of red.
Edible perennial, usually grown as an annual. Hardy to zone 6. Succeeds in most soils. Poor soils should be enriched with organic matter. Prefers a heavy rich soil and a sheltered sunny position.
Height 90-180cm. Spread 60cm.
Sow 6mm deep indoors, setting plants out at 45-60cm apart, after last frosts.
Stake plants in exposed sites.
The flowers are an alternative ingredient of 'Quick Return' herbal compost activator. This is a dried and powdered mixture of several herbs that can be added to a compost heap in order to speed up bacterial activity and thus shorten the time needed to make the compost.
The seed contains 12% of a drying oil.
A brown dye is obtained from the petals.