Honesty seed-pods

by Adam Pasco

Honesty is well worth a place in any garden - I'd recommend adding it to your seed order right away.

Honesty seed-podsFlowers are not the only attraction in winter gardens. Biennial honesty (Lunaria annua) is a good example of a plant that keeps delivering after its flowers have passed. Once the petals have fallen, enchanting disc-shaped seed-pods are formed. These develop through late-summer, the seeds within becoming more prominent, particularly when backlit by the sun.

The pods take on a purplish hue in autumn, then dry and discolour to dirty brown. But don’t despair. Rub them gently between your fingers and the outer brown layers will fall away, revealing silver discs, and allowing you to collect seed. Stems can be cut and brought indoors for decoration, or just pushed into borders, to add interest and plug gaps. Even on dull December days the seed-pods of honesty look charming, adding interest when many other worthy perennials have given up the ghost for winter.

Seed will naturally fall onto surrounding soil, sowing itself, with new seedlings emerging next year. Alternatively, seed can be saved to raise new plants in spring. Honesty can be established to ensure new seedlings every year, much as you would with other biennials, such as foxgloves.

Honesty is well worth a place in any garden – I’d recommend adding it to your seed order right away. You’ll find varieties available offering the usual purple flowers or a pure white form, and even one that produces attractive variegated foliage (not sure if this is quite to my taste).

If budgets are currently tight it’s worth asking gardening friends whether they have any honesty in their gardens, and begging a couple of pod-bearing stems. I feel a bit of cash-free trading coming on!

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Gardeners' World Web User 06/12/2008 at 14:49

I have one plant which has flowered again after producing seed. It still has some new growth on it. Could this be a sport that turns out to be perennial? How exciting! I'm keeping a close eye on it.

Gardeners' World Web User 19/04/2010 at 09:11

Has anyone come across a yellow flowered form of Honesty which may have been dropped by birds? The seed pods are the same as the common variety.

Gardeners' World Web User 26/04/2010 at 12:07

Reply to Olwen: No I haven't heard of this, but would love to see a picture if you have a yellow form. You can email it to me at adam.pasco@bbc.com. Looking forward to hearing more.

Gardeners' World Web User 30/04/2011 at 06:21

I have some honesty plants in my garden and they are flowering in profusion right now. The plants have self sown and I think must have originally appeared via birds. They produce beautiful glimmering seed discs (pods) every year without fail and they suit my cottage style garden to a T, thank you birds!

Gardeners' World Web User 01/09/2011 at 14:37

I love Honesty, despite its scentlessness, that is why it's my Flower of the Month http://tinyurl.com/3sf579g

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