How to Plant, Grow, and Care for Ammi

Ammi is a lovely little plant that looks great in the garden with its feathery foliage and lacy flower umbels. It's also a wonderful addition to the cutting garden. Gardening expert Melissa Strauss has the lowdown on growing this pretty plant in your garden.

Clusters of delicate white ammi flowers; their petals opening to reveal intricate patterns.

Contents

If you’ve ever admired the look of delicate Queen Anne’s lace flowers bouncing around by the roadside, I’ve got the perfect flower for you. Cut flower gardeners, stay tuned because if you’re not growing ammi, you must plant some. Let’s talk about this pretty plant that makes a wonderful cut flower and all-around beauty in the garden

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Overview

Clustered white ammi flowers contrasting against a backdrop of softly blurred blooms.
The Ammi plant belongs to the Apiaceae family and the genus Ammi or Daucus.
Plant Type Annual
Family Apiaceae
Genus Ammi
Species about 6
Native Area Mediterranean region
Exposure Full sun
Height 3’-4’
Watering Requirements Low-Moderate
Pests and Diseases Few
Maintenance Low
Soil Type Cool, moist, fertile
Soil pH 6.8-8.3 Acid, alkaline, neutral

What is Ammi?

Ammi, also known as False Queen Anne’s lace, is a delightful little annual considered to be ‘self-sowing.’ That means you only have to plant it once, and as long as you leave some seed heads on to dry, this plant will stick around for years. While it bears a striking resemblance to Queen Anne’s lace, it has a distinct advantage. You won’t find this species on the invasive species list anywhere in the United States.

This easy-to-care-for flowering annual adds a ton of texture and personality to the summer garden. It also makes a stellar addition to the cutting garden for much the same reason. At least one species carries the prestigious Award of Garden Merit from the Royal Horticultural Society. Let’s talk about what is so special about amiable ammi and how you can grow it at home.

History

A cluster of delicate white ammi flowers, standing out vividly against a softly blurred backdrop of lush green foliage.
Adam Lonicerus described the flower as a hot, dry plant used to treat cold-induced ailments.

Historically, this plant was well regarded for its medicinal applications. The name is one given to this plant long ago by the Greek physician and botanist Pedanius Dioscorides. The name comes from the Greek word for sand, which is where the plant commonly grows in the wild. 

Other names over the years include visnaga, meaning doubly-pointed. German botanist Adam Lonicerus wrote that ammi is a hot, dry plant. This made it a treatment for ailments thought to be the result of cold conditions

Native Area

Delicate white and green ammi flowers, surrounded by airy, feathery leaves, creating a gentle contrast of colors.
This Apiaceae family plant thrives in temperate climates across Europe.

This flowering member of the Apiaceae family hails from the Mediterranean Basin. The native area includes parts of Europe, southwestern Asia, and northern Africa. It grows in mainly temperate climates and is thought to have originated in the Nile River Valley. 

Characteristics

A close-up of a bunch of white ammi flowers; their petals unfolding gracefully in soft sunlight.
The flower umbels start pale green and open to reveal tiny, white lace-like flowers.

You could easily mistake plants in the Ammi species for Queen Anne’s lace, or Daucus carota. In fact, some varieties of Daucus share the same common name due to the similarity of their appearance. However, alike as they are in appearance, the two are not closely related. Queen Anne’s lace is a form of wild carrot, while ammi is in the same family, but a different genus. There are about six known species in the genus

This flower has wonderful, delicate, fernlike foliage. Leaves grow both from the base of the plant and up the sides of the stems. The leaf structure is similar to dill or fennel, with thin branching structures. This textural element looks beautiful mixed with broadleaf neighbors

The flower umbels sit high atop slender, but strong stems. They range in diameter up to about three inches wide. When they first appear, the flowers in the bud are pale green, as is the foliage. As they open they reveal a mass of tiny, white flowers that look like lace. It is often referred to as lace flower. When left to dry on the plant, the flowers will go to seed and this plant will re-seed itself effectively. 

Uses

Lush green ammi flowers stand out amidst a backdrop of feathery leaves.
The plant is used ornamentally in borders and floristry.

The Ancient Egyptians used the flower as a medicinal preparation. It’s used as an antioxidant, antifungal, and antibacterial, as well as for treating skin ailments, kidney stones, and gallbladder stones. The stems were also fashioned into toothpicks. The ripened seeds have also been useful for treating menstrual irregularities and leprosy. 

Today, it’s primarily an ornamental. It makes a striking border, particularly when combined with other textures. It is well-loved in the floristry trade for its lacey appearance, which adds airy beauty to floral arrangements. Many people love this flower as a dried floral, as it retains its shape well with stiff stems and umbels. 

Where to Buy

A single white ammi flower in full bloom on a stem, contrasting elegantly with a softly blurred background of lush green foliage.
This annual plant is commonly grown from easily obtainable seeds.

As an annual, it is most often grown from seed. The seeds are not difficult to find, as this is a popular plant.

Planting

White ammi flowers set against a backdrop of lush green leaves, showcasing their natural beauty in a garden setting.
Support plants as they grow tall with thin stems.

In warmer climates, sow your seeds in the fall for larger plants earlier in the season. In cooler climates, start your seeds indoors one to two weeks before your last frost date and transplant as soon as the soil is workable.

However, this plant prefers direct sowing in the garden. This plant is surprisingly cold-tolerant and will survive some frost. You can also plant these seeds every two weeks for a longer flowering period in the summer. 

You’ll want your plants spaced about one foot apart to give them room to spread out. They may ultimately need staking or some other type of support, as they get quite tall and the stems are thin. Give them some protection from strong winds that can blow them over. Avoid areas with poor drainage, or more than partial shade. 

How to Grow

Ammi is a fairly low-maintenance plant. Once you get the hang of it, it’s a big bloomer that will provide an abundance of flowers for about four to six weeks during the summer. It prefers cool weather and will do much of its growing in the spring. 

Light

Sunlight highlights delicate white ammi flowers, creating a serene ambiance in a garden.
Optimal growth in shaded garden areas improves flower vitality.

It can grow quite happily in full sun or partial shade. Make sure your plants get at least four to six hours of sun daily. It will not flower well if it doesn’t get this amount of light. Its ability to grow in this range of conditions makes it great for those shadier areas in the garden. The flowers will be perkier if they get some shade in the afternoon.

Water

White ammi flowers stand out against a backdrop of lush green leaves; their delicate petals glowing in the sunlight.
Young plants require consistent moisture without waterlogging.

While I wouldn’t classify these plants as drought-resistant, once established, they can tolerate some dry weather. During the summer months, you will know when your plant needs watering as the foliage will droop. Ideally, they like soil that holds a bit of moisture to keep them cool. 

When your plants are young, they need to stay moist and cool. Be careful not to let the roots become waterlogged. Yellowing leaves can be a sign that your plants are getting too much water. Once established, these plants will only need supplemental water occasionally. In times of prolonged drought, pay attention to the foliage and flowers, which will look wilted when they need water. 

Soil

Rich, brown loose soil showing its fertile texture, perfect for planting.
Both acidic or alkaline soil are fine for planting.

Drainage is an important factor when it comes to the soil. It adapts well to various types of soil as long as it is loose and drains freely. This plant does prefer for the soil to be cool and moist, so giving it shade in the afternoon is beneficial. The hot summer sun will speed up the evaporation of water from the soil. Average soil is just right for these plants. Amending your soil with some organic compost will add nutrients and help aerate the soil. 

In terms of pH, this annual will tolerate a wide range. It doesn’t need acidic soil to make nutrients available, but it won’t hurt either. Likewise, alkaline soil isn’t an issue for this plant. Testing the soil never hurts, but for this plant, isn’t necessary. 

Temperature and Humidity

Green and pink ammi flowers intertwined with delicate, intricate leaves, showcasing nature's harmonious blend of colors and textures.
Seeds of this plant benefit from a brief cold stratification if sown in spring.

Ammi prefers cool, moist conditions. It is remarkably frost resistant for an annual. This is why it is best planted in the fall in warmer climates. It will withstand the cold months, and grow faster in the spring, which means bigger plants and more flowers. 

The ideal temperature range for this plant is 55-65°F (13-18°C). A brief cold stratification is helpful for seeds sown in the spring. If you plant your seeds while the temperatures are still in the range of 40-45°F (4-7°C) this won’t be necessary. Humidity is not a particularly important factor. 

Fertilizing

A hand holds a handful of vibrant blue fertilizer granules, bathed in the soft glow of natural light.
Fertilize plants with a nitrogen-rich formula initially.

Ammi likes moderately rich soil, so working some balanced organic fertilizer in at the time of planting will give your plants a robust start. There is no need to fertilize after this. Too much nitrogen later in the cycle will promote leafy growth, rather than the flowers you want for cut flower arrangements.

Maintenance

Clusters of white ammi flowers bask in the sunlight, against a serene backdrop of clear blue sky.
Staking or using nets and wire supports helps tall plants stay upright.

This lacy bloomer doesn’t require much maintenance. It is, however, considered a cut-and-come-again plant. To maximize the blooming season, cut the flowers as often as you’d like. The more you cut them, the more flowers the plants will ultimately produce. 

The plants tend to get rather tall, and in some cases, they may require support. To keep your plants from falling over from strong winds or heavy rain, it’s good to give them a hand in this area. Staking is an effective way to support your plants, and you can also use nets or wire supports. 

Growing in Containers

A lush green ammi plant with delicate, airy leaves spreading elegantly in various directions.
Use a well-draining potting mix for potted plants.

Because it is a member of the Apiaceae family, ammi has long tap roots. This is an important factor to consider when growing the plant in containers. This is the same reason they don’t take well to transplanting. For this reason, if you are growing the plant in containers, select a container that is deep rather than wide. 

Use a good quality potting mix that drains quickly, but maintains some moisture. Potted plants need watering more frequently, and because ammi likes moist soil, you’ll need to pay more attention to it in a container. Your container should also have proper drainage. Expect to water your potted plants every two to three days.

A positive aspect of growing the plant in containers is that you can adjust the amount of exposure. Place your container in full sun in the spring while the weather is still cool, and then move it to a spot with afternoon shade when the temperatures rise. 

Propagation

Wooden spoon surrounded by scattered ammi seeds, with more seeds neatly held in its bowl.
Plant seeds either directly in the garden or in deep containers.

Their long tap root makes them difficult to transplant, so direct sowing in the garden is best. If you want to start your seeds early in a cool climate, plant them in deep cells or containers. Whether in cells or directly sown, sow seeds at surface level or only 1/8 inch deep. They need some light to germinate properly. 

In the garden, sow your seeds in groups of three seeds every 12-18 inches. When seedlings reach two inches tall, thin the groups to the strongest seedling. Keep your seeds and seedlings moist throughout the germination process and until they have established roots. 

If you want a prolonged blooming period in the summer, succession sow your seeds in the garden. Do this by planting a second round of seeds after two to three weeks. Do this as many times as you like, as long as the weather is cool enough for the plants to get established.

At the end of the blooming season, if you wish for your plants to self-sow, leave a few flowers on the plant. These flowers will dry out and go to seed. Next year, you should have more plants where the seeds fall. 

Common Problems

This is a mostly tolerant and tough plant. That doesn’t mean there are no issues to look out for, but on the whole, it is pretty tough. Let’s discuss some potential issues and how to handle them if they crop up. 

Lack of Flowers

A close-up of an ammi plant; its delicate green leaves basking in the warm sunlight.
Grow in a spot with at least four to six hours of daily sunlight.

Plant in partial shade or full sun. Too much shade will have your plants lagging in the growth department. Slow growth and development will lead to little or no flowers during the blooming season. Make sure to plant your seeds in a spot that receives at least four to six hours of sun daily. The more sun in the morning, the better. 

Pests

A close-up of a ladybird with red wings and black spots, perched delicately on green ammi plant.
Any pest infestations are unlikely to cause significant damage.

Fortunately, this plant is nearly pest-free. They tend to avoid it, and an infestation would be uncommon. In the event that you run into garden pests munching on your ammi it’s unlikely that they will do any significant damage. 

Diseases

A close-up of an ammi seed head, bathed in sunlight, revealing intricate patterns and textures.
Buying plants from a reputable source can prevent the spread of incurable viral diseases.

Because it prefers a cool, moist environment, there are several diseases to keep an eye out for. Mold and mildew diseases are the most prevalent, as they thrive in a similar environment. Air circulation is an important key to avoiding this type of issue. Thinning out your plants, and keeping your garden beds well maintained are a help in this area. 

If you end up with fungal issues despite your efforts, you can expect to treat them effectively. You can use a commercial fungicide sprayed on the leaves to do the trick. Remove damaged plant parts first. These fungicides will prevent the spread of the disease to healthy plant parts.

Final Thoughts

Ammi is a lovely plant with many delightful attributes. It is easy to grow and care for, as well. The texture of the flowers and foliage make it a beautiful addition to many areas of the garden. Give your plants a moderate amount of sun and water, and watch this delicate beauty flourish. 

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