Heartsease seeds - growing your own love potion

Heartsease flower with purple and yellow petals

Shakespeare used many flowers and herbs symbolically in his plays. In act 1 of A Midsummer Night's Dream, the fairy king, Oberon commands Puck to bring him 

"a little western flower, 
Before milk-white now purple with love's wound. 
And maidens call it love-in-idleness." 

The 'little western flower' is heartsease (viola tricolour), a pretty wild pansy, and the powerful love potion made with it causes mayhem in the play! 

I planted the heartsease seeds from the Globe shop on 23rd March. The seeds are small, so I lightly covered them over with peat-free seed compost and watered them in. It’s still a little chilly at night here in London, so I put them in my greenhouse. Alternatively, the seeds could be planted direct where they are to flower once the weather is warmer in May. 

After a week the seeds had germinated and sprouted, but unfortunately slugs ate them all! I'm sure Shakespeare would have an opinion on slugs... "Fie, you slug-a-bed!"* The heartsease seeds were re-sown and this time did not succumb. These will need thinning out as they grow. 

Two weeks later the seedlings are in definite need of thinning out. Thinning out gives the strongest seedlings the best chance of growing.

After another fortnight the seedlings are growing well. We’ve had a very cold and wet spring in London, and this is affecting how quickly things are growing in the garden. We need some sunshine! 

Another week of shivering in the greenhouse and the seedlings are finally ready to pot on into larger pots. This helps them form a strong root system. 

I always talk to my plants, but I think the sun finally appearing is what really helped the little heartsease seedlings to flourish! By 12th May London has basked in five days of sunshine, and the heartsease plants have been transplanted into into their final flowering pot. We should see flower buds very soon! 

"Beetles black, approach not near; Worm nor snail, do no offence." 

 And finally, flowers on 15th May! 

Heartsease flower with purple and yellow petals

Heartsease may not, in reality, make the object of your desires fall in love, but who could fail to fall for these cute easy-to-grow little flowers? They will flower throughout summer and then readily self seed, so you may well find them popping up for an encore next year!

* Quote from Romeo & Juliet.

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