This beautiful heirloom variety, grown by Thomas Jefferson at his Monticello estate, has been carefully reselected for us by the best Dutch seedsmen for classic form and rich colour. The big 3 to 4 inch hibiscus-like blossoms have satiny petals in a wonderful deep dark maroon that shades to pure black. Black Watchman’s blooms unfurl slowly on sturdy tall 5 to 7 foot stalks and make a singular and striking garden display, setting off all the other flowers around them. Gorgeous, deep maroon blooms that look almost black grow singly—and quickly—on tall, stiff spikes. White eyes peer out from the centre of the bell-shaped flowers. Large, rough, heart-shaped lower leaves become progressively smaller toward the top of the spire. Great against a fence or a wall, and for hiding unsightly views.
BIENNIAL: Summer/fall bloom (Frost hardy)
EASIEST TO START DIRECTLY IN THE GARDEN:
Plant seeds in full sun in ordinary garden soil in spring after danger of frost is past. Poke seeds into well-worked soil about 1/2 inch deep, 6 to 8 inches apart. Keep moist until germination in 7 to 14 days.
TO START EARLY INDOORS:
Start seeds indoors about 8 weeks before last expected frost date. Sow 2 inches apart and 1/2 inch deep in flats or individual containers of seed starting mix. Provide a strong light source and keep mix evenly moist to await germination in 7 to 14 days. When seedlings are 3 to 4 inches tall, transplant 18 to 24 inches apart after gradually acclimating to outdoor conditions. Thin or transplant seedlings 18 to 24 inches apart so plants have ample room to mature.
Black Watchman may bloom the first year from seed if planted early in spring. Planted later, it will bloom the following summer. After blossoms fade, cut off the spent flower stalks just above the ground. Fertilize well and continue to water plants as needed, then roots will push another flush of enchanting flower spires to open in fall.
Heirloom variety has old-world charm.