Hesperis – night violet

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Hesperis, hesperis (Hesperis) – a genus of perennial herbs of the cabbage or cruciferous family. Some species are used as ornamental fragrant plants.

  • Family: cabbage.
  • Origin: Asia and Europe.
  • Rhizome: Taproot with lateral branches.
  • Stem: upright.
  • Leaves: alternate, ovate-lanceolate, toothed.
  • Fruit: pod.
  • Reproductive ability: propagated by seeds, cuttings and division.
  • Illumination: shade-tolerant.
  • Watering: moderate.
  • Content temperature: frost-resistant.
  • Flowering time: from May to August, more than 1.5 months.

Description of the Hesperis flower

Perennials or biennials with straight branched stems from 20 to 130 cm high, elongated pubescent leaves with a serrated edge, small purple, white, pink, greenish-yellow fragrant flowers, collected in loose racemose or paniculate inflorescences. The fruit is a pod with a linear, cylindrical or tetrahedral shape.

The genus name comes from the Greek word hesperos, meaning “evening”. This name, like the Russian name for hesperis, evening, reflects the property of plants to bloom in the evening, when it gets cooler. In some species, the aroma intensifies at this time.

Hesperis flower in the photo.

Decorative hesperis is grown in a two-year culture. In the first year of vegetation, a dense rosette of leaves is formed, from which a stem with flowers grows in the second year. After flowering, most of the plants fall out. Simple, non-double garden forms often self-seed.

Hesperis flowers are planted in flowerbeds and flower beds, placed near the house so that their delicate smell can be heard. Inflorescences are used for cutting; in cut form, they remain in water for up to 12 days.

Decorative common types and varieties of hesperis: evening and others

The genus includes about 25-30 species, growing mostly in the Mediterranean, partly in other parts of Europe and Asia. For decorative purposes, the following types are usually used:

Evening Siberian (H. Sibirica L.) , 30-130 cm high, the stem and leaves are covered with glandular hairs, the flowers are lilac-pink or white, bloom in June-July;

Evening dark or sad (H. Tristis L.) 25 – 60 cm high, stems and leaves are thinly pubescent, with flowers of unusual color – at the beginning of flowering they are brown-purple, then gradually become dirty yellow. Blooms in May-June.

Hesperis matrona or female

Hesperis female, or matron’s hesperis (H. Matronalis L.) , the most common decorative species, is also known by the names: matron’s evening, night violet. It has a stem up to 50-80 cm high, regular oval-lanceolate leaves and lilac flowers collected in paniculate inflorescences. The name of this type of hesperis – night violet is due to the fact that its flowers are very fragrant, the smell, reminiscent of violet, is especially heard in the evening and at night, intensifying in warm and humid weather.

Matron’s evenings are widely grown in our gardens, there are forms with lilac, pink, white double and single flowers. Very decorative undersized white-flowered variety of H. matronalis nana candidissima candidissima, double purple H. matronalis f. purpurea plena.

Below is a photo of matron’s hesperis.

Growing and propagating hesperis

The plant develops best in well-lit areas, but can also tolerate partial shade. Prefers loose, moderately moist, slightly alkaline soils with the addition of lime. Winter-hardy, does not require shelter. It tolerates transplanting well, with sufficient moisture, the earthy coma can be transplanted even in a flowering state. Care consists in regular watering, weeding, fertilizing with mineral fertilizer. To prolong the flowering time, stems with wilted inflorescences are removed.

When growing hesperis, it must be remembered that it belongs to the cabbage family, and therefore, it is affected by all the diseases and pests characteristic of them.

Sowing is done in the ground in May – June, they are planted in a permanent place in August or September, so that the seedlings are well rooted by winter. The distance between individual specimens is from 35 to 45 cm. Simple garden forms often give self-seeding.

Hesperis flower in the photo.

Terry varieties are best propagated by dividing the bushes, which are produced in autumn or spring. Young plantings, especially terry forms, are mulched, since they may freeze on light soils in winters with little snow.

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