How to Grow and Care for a Black Cumin (Nigella sativa)

Nigella sativa, also called Black Cumin, is an annual flowering plant discovered in ancient Egypt. The plant develops an attractive flower that makes a delicate accent bloom for fresh and dried arrangements.

Allowing the bloom to fade and turn into a pod produces an edible seed used as a flavoring in foods.

Plant Nigella sativa seeds when no risk of frost exists. Sprouts appear in one to two weeks and flowers in about two to three months later.

Growing Conditions and General Care

Test the soil pH with a home kit two to three months before the desired planting date to verify the pH is slightly acidic with a value of 6.0 to 7.0. Work ground rock sulfur into the soil to lower the pH if needed. Follow the package application rate based on the current pH. Let the soil rest for two to three months to give the amendment time to change the pH.

Work 2 to 3 inches (5 to 7.5 cm) of organic compost into the planting area to a depth of 8 to 10 inches (20 to 25 cm). Compost increases the nutrient value of the soil and is a natural fertilizer.

Sprinkle the Nigella sativa seeds lightly over the planting area. Sprinkle about 1/4 to 1/2 inch (8 to 13 mm) of soil over the seeds. Pat the soil gently to hold the seeds in place.

Nigella sativa
Photo via flickr.com

Sprinkle the planting area gently with water to moisten the soil to a depth of 1 to 2 inches (2.5 to 5 cm). Use caution to prevent heavy streams of water that will cause seed run-off. Keep the soil evenly moist, but not wet, to stimulate germination and plant growth.

Thin out plants once the seedlings reach 2 to 3 inches (5 to 7.5 cm) tall. Pinch off weak sprouts that are growing too close together. Attempt to space the plants 4 to 6 inches (10 to 15 cm) apart. Always keep the healthiest sprouts.

Deadhead the plants by clipping off the flowers when they begin to fade. Leave the flowers on the plant if you want them to turn into seed pods.

Grower's Tips

Work horticulture limestone into the soil to raise the pH if it is below 6.0. Follow the package instructions based on the current pH.

Apply a flowering plant fertilizer once the plants are 4 to 6 inches tall if you don't amend the soil with organic compost.

Source: sfgate.com

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