Honesty also called Lunaria annua has beautiful purple flowers in April and May that are one of the few early nectar attractions for butterflies. In spite of it’s Latin name, Honesty is actually a biennial putting down a long tap root in it’s first year. This is why you seldom see it for sale in garden centres.
Gardeners Tips Growing Honesty
- Honesty will also grow in shade and the seed heads make a great Autumn and Winter attraction as the coin shaped seed heads shed an outer skin and become luminous white moon shapes like tracing paper.
- The growth is stiff and entirely self-supporting, a central stem branching out freely and bearing abundance of small flowers like Wallflowers.
- Honesty should be massed with say a dozen plants in a group to give the best effect. The white variety is well worth growing, the colour being very pure and luminous in quality but purple is the main colour.
- Honesty self sows quite freely and young seedlings can be transplanted with care being take of the tap root. Collect the seeds in October as the husks are shed but leave the papery head.
- Seed heads can be cut, hung to dry in Autumn and used as dried flowers in floral arrangements. They look good with Christmas arrangements.
- Most are anything but nondescript, and there are some strains with richly coloured flowers of a vibrant deep purple with a hint of magenta.
- Lunaria annua is a biennial belonging to the brassica family and will grow in most soil, if it looks unhappy try a bit of lime. When it is happy, which is most of the time since it generally chooses for itself where to live, it can develop into a robust, branching plant, 2ft tall and 1.5ft across.
- Unfortunately it has no scent. Although a biennial, with each plant living only two years, when it is established it will go on forever, becoming a feature of the late spring garden. When left to its own devices it often turns up in unexpected places.
- There is a perennial honesty Lunaria rediviva that is an exceptionally beautiful plant. It has a simple grace with yard-high stems clothed in similar fresh green heart-shaped leaves. Its cross-shaped flowers are pale lavender and sweetly scented.
- Honesty develops thick storage roots, almost like tubers, and, in common with other brassicas, has deep tap roots.
- Avoid overfeeding and do not use manure Honesty does best without pampering.