Dame’s Rocket: A Beautiful (but Invasive) Flower

Updated June 23, 2022
Dame's Rocket Flower

Dame's Rocket (Hesperis matronalis) is a gorgeous, sweet-smelling flower that's, unfortunately, also quite invasive. While you can grow this flower in your garden, there are a few things you'll want to keep in mind to prevent garden-related headaches in the future.

Description of Dame's Rocket Flowers

Hesperis Matronalis

Dame's Rocket, also known as Hesperis, produces small, four-petaled flowers in shades of white, pink, and purple. The small blossoms grow in clusters and have a sweet scent, with a bit of a clove fragrance to them.

In general, Dame's Rocket grows two to four feet tall, depending on the cultivar, and some cultivars are more well-behaved in the garden than others. The most common of all is the purple Dame's Rocket, which re-seeds easily and is generally considered to be an invasive weed.

Dame's Rocket blooms from May through August, and it's a biennial that reseeds easily.

Growing Dame's Rocket

Dame's Rocket is easy to grow -- maybe too easy, in the case of the rather invasive purple variety. If you're growing Dame's Rocket in your garden, there are a few things to keep in mind.

  • Grow Dame's Rocket in full sun to partial shade.
  • Moist, fertile soil is ideal, though they'll grow just about anywhere as long as the soil isn't dry for extended periods.
  • To prevent it from becoming invasive, deadhead the plant as soon as it's finished blooming; this will prevent seeds from forming and then spreading all over your garden.
  • Dame's Rocket doesn't need additional fertilizer. If growing it as an ornamental garden plant, you might want to topdress the area with compost in spring, but it won't need anything beyond that.

Dame's Rocket Varieties

There are several varieties of Dame's Rocket, and while they're all attractive, some are more likely to become invasive than others. Regardless of which type you're growing, it would be a good idea to deadhead it when it's finished blooming.

Hesperis Albiflora

Hesperis Albiflora

This white-flowering Dame's Rocket is a short-lived perennial or biennial that forms clusters of very fragrant flowers that attract pollinators. It's hardy in Zones 3 through 8. The 'Alba Plena' variety is the double-flowered version of 'Albiflora.'

Hesperis Purpurea Pleno

Hesperis Purpurea Pleno

'Pleno' has small, bell-shaped purple flowers that generally appear in May, blooming on and off throughout the summer. This variety is hardy in Zones 6 through 8 and is a reliable perennial. It grows to about three to five feet tall after a few years.

Hesperis Matronalis

Hesperis Matronalis

Hesperis matronalis is the common, very invasive variety of Dame's Rocket that's considered to be a noxious weed in some areas of North America. It's undoubtedly pretty, with its delicate purple blooms and sweet scent, but this is definitely a plant you'll want to grow with care. It produces an abundance of seeds and grows very easily from those dispersed seeds.

Maybe too Much of a Good Thing

Dame's Rocket is beautiful, beloved by pollinators, and sweet-smelling as well. And it's easy to grow! What more could anyone ask for in a plant? Unfortunately, this beauty is almost too easy to grow. If you decide to plant Dame's Rocket in your garden, just be sure to do it with care, deadhead regularly, and keep an eye out for errant seedlings in the spring.

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Dame’s Rocket: A Beautiful (but Invasive) Flower