Are you looking for an elegant addition to your flower garden? Look no further than chocolate lace flower, also known as Dara flower, with it’s uniquely colored chocolate lacy blooms. Learn how to grow chocolate lace flower, and add this beautiful and unusual flower to your flower garden.
I’ve grown chocolate lace flower in the cutting garden since the beginning of our flower farming journey, and it’s always been a pleasure to grow.
The plants are subtle in their presentation, yet the romantic hues of chocolate, shades of dark burgundy, and dusty rose, keep me coming back for more.
A member of the carrot family, this plant is a darker variety of the common wildflower known as Queen Anne’s lace. Dara flower is also related to other lacy flowers commonly grown in the cut flower garden, such as Ammi Majus and Ammi Visnaga.
In this post we’ll have a closer look at how to grow and care for this wonderful garden flower.
What Is Chocolate Lace Flower?
Chocolate lace flower (Daucus carota “Dara”) is a variety of ornamental carrot known for it’s beautiful and delicate, lace-like umbels of flowers. This variety is called “chocolate” lace flower because the blooms display a range of colors, from deep maroon and chocolate, to softer shades of pink and cream.
The plant is a variety of Queen Anne’s lace, and is a delicate looking yet hardy plant, native to North America.
Most often grown for it’s ornamental value and use as a cut flower, the flowers are increasing in popularity.
The flowers are popular among gardeners for their unique appearance, long blooming period, and ability to attract bees and butterflies.
“Chocolate Lace Flower” is just one of the common names for this plant. Other common names include false Queen Anne’s lace, ornamental carrot, wild carrot, bishop’s weed, cow parsley, false bishop’s weed, Lady’s lace, and lace flower, just to name a few.
“Dara” is the name of one hybridized variety of the plant. This cultivar produces flowers in shades of pink, burgundy and chocolate.
Other varieties include Black Knight and Purple Kisses, each with their own specific and beautiful dark shades of flowers.
Chocolate lace flower belongs to the Family Apiaceae and the Genus daucus. The species name of the plant is Daucus carota.
The plant belongs to the same family as carrots, celery and parsley.
Chocolate lace flower is an annual or biennial plant, depending on the climate.
The lacy muted blooms make excellent cut flowers and can add a touch of elegance to any garden or floral arrangement.
Chocolate lace flower gets it’s name from the lacy blooms that it produces. The flowers are terminal in placement, and form at the tips of the stems.
The individual flowers are small and delicate, and form a flat or slightly rounded umbrella-shaped flower cluster called an umbel. The umbels can be 3 to 5 inches across, with the individual flowers measuring only approximately 1/8 of an inch in diameter.
Each umbel consists of numerous tiny florets that grow together on flowering stems in a branching pattern from a central point, creating a lacy web-like structure on the flower head. This intricate structure is what gives the plant it’s name.
One of the most appealing qualities of the chocolate lace flower is it’s color palette.
The flowers display a range of colors, from deep maroon or chocolate brown, to lighter, softer shades of pink, blush and cream. There can also be some color variation within each umbel, and across different flowers within the same plant.
Once the plant begins to bloom, it will keep on producing throughout most of the growing season.
When the blooms are spent, the umbel stems tend to curve upwards, forming a cup-like shape as the seed heads form. This structure then closes as seeds are produced.
The Foliage And Stems
The leaves of chocolate lace flower are tiny, divided, lacy, and alternate.
With a fern-like appearance, the leaves add to the visual interest of the plant.
The leaves of the plant are somewhat sparse in comparison to Ammi majus, which has fairly dense fern-like foliage, and is often used as a filler in floral arrangements.
For the chocolate lace flower, the leaves alone are not full enough to use as a filler all by themselves.
The stems of the chocolate lace flower are slender and branched, and sometimes slightly arched. The stems help to contribute to the airiness of the plant.
Seeds of the chocolate lace flower are tiny, and approximately 2mm to 3 mm in length.
The seeds are oval shaped and flattened, with tiny bumps and hooks which help with relocation and self seeding.
If direct sowing, to make planting easier, some gardeners choose to mix the seeds with fine sand for better distribution of the seed.
Due to their small size it’s important to handle them carefully during planting, because it is easy to plant a few too many seeds in one planting location.
How Tall Does Chocolate Lace Flower Grow?
The main stem is strong and solid. Stem length varies, with some flowers reaching up to 50 inches in height, depending on growing conditions.
Chocolate lace flower typically grows to a height of approximately 3 to 4 feet.
How To Grow Chocolate Lace Flower From Seed
Growing chocolate lace flower from seed is relatively straightforward. The seeds can be started indoors, sown directly into the garden, or winter sown.
So let’s have a look at how to successfully germinate and grow the seeds, using the different growing methods.
- Although chocolate lace flowers do not always require special preparation of the seeds for germination, a cold moist chill period will aide in the germination process.
- These plants are considered to be hardy annuals, and seeds from hardy annuals will generally benefit from stratification if it is provided.
- To provide a period of cold exposure, direct sowing in fall will do the trick. During the cold winter months the seeds will be exposed to freezing and thaw cycles, as well as moisture from the elements.
- Winter sowing will also provide this same cold moist chill period.
- For seeds started inside, exposing the seeds to several weeks of cold exposure in the fridge can help as well.
Methods For Sowing
1. Starting The Seeds Indoors
- The secret to earlier blooming is to start the plant growing from seed indoors, especially in colder climates.
- I like to start my seeds indoors in late winter, as it gives me better control over the growing conditions.
- Select a well draining container in which to plant the seeds, if starting the seeds indoors. I like to use 72 cell seed planting trays.
- Fill the trays with a good seed starting medium.
- Make a little indentation on top of each cell and drop 1 to 2 seeds into each indentation.
- The seeds will require light for germination, so lightly cover with more of the soil, or some vermiculite. I’ve had best success with vermiculite, so this is what I use to cover the seeds.
- Bottom water the tray, and keep moist until the seeds germinate. Do not allow the soil to dry out.
- There is no need to place these trays on a heat mat, as the seeds will germinate at cooler temperatures of 60°F to 65°F.
- A heat mat however can speed up the process.
- Seeds will germinate at about 12-16 days, depending on the freshness of the seed.
- Once the seeds have germinated, place the tray under grow lights to grow on, until ready to be transplanted out in spring.
2. Planting The Seeds Outdoors
- The seeds can also be sown directly into the garden, into a prepared bed in the fall, or very early spring.
- Direct seeding is a beneficial planting choice for this plant.
- The elements will take care of the watering and stratification needs of the seeds, as well as the light needs when the plants germinate in spring.
- To direct sow, prepare the garden bed by removing weeds.
- Mix the tiny seeds with some sand, and sprinkle over the garden.
- Lightly press the seeds into the soil.
- Gently water, taking care not to dislodge the seeds.
- Thereafter, allow the elements to take care of the moisture provision.
3. Winter Sowing The Seeds
- Winter sowing seeds is a great way to stratify certain types of seeds, including those of hardy annuals. Chocolate lace flowers fit this bill, and do well with the winter sowing method.
- To winter sow, prepare a chosen container such as a recycled juice jug or milk jug for planting.
- Cut the container in half leaving a small hinge between the top and bottom half.
- Then cut some drainage holes in the bottom of the container.
- Fill the bottom half of the jug with seed starting mix.
- Sow seeds over the surface of the medium. Cover with a fine layer of vermiculite.
- Tape the top half of the container to the bottom half with duct tape. Label the container using a permanent marker with the seed type.
- Remove the lid from the container, therefore allowing an opening in the top of the mini greenhouse.
- This opening will allow moisture to enter the container, as well as allow for excessive heat to escape in spring.
- Place the container outside into the elements. Make sure that the container is placed in a secure location so that it does not tip over in high winds.
- The seeds will germinate at just the right time for your growing zone in spring.
- Check out this article on winter sowing in milk jugs for more tips on winter sowing. It’s one of my favorite ways for planting hardy annual and perennial seeds.
Transplanting The Seedlings Into The Garden
- If the seeds have been directly sown into the garden, they will germinate and grow when the weather warms up.
- However winter sown seedlings, as well as those grown indoors in containers, will require transplanting into the garden.
- The seeds will need to be hardened off to become acclimatized to the outdoor environment.
- Transplant the seedlings into a prepared garden bed, after the risk of frost has passed. Plant spacing should be approximately 9 to 12 inches apart.
- Water in after planting.
- The seedlings will take some time to get established and settle in after planting. Then they will begin to take off and show active growth.
- It will take some time for the plants to mature, approximately 100 to 110 days from germination, so an earlier start will mean earlier blooms in the garden.
- Once the flowers begin to bloom, they will continue, often until the end of the season.
- Succession planting is also recommended, to have several crops which can extend the blooming period throughout the entire season.
Chocolate Lace Flower (Dara Flower) Care
- Since chocolate lace flower can be grown as an annual if started early in the season, the plant can be grown in most growing zones.
- The plant is hardy, and can be grown in USDA plant hardiness zones 4 to 9 as a biennial as well.
- In this case, the plants grow vegetatively in the first year, and then flower in the second year of growth.
- Chocolate lace flower grows best in full sun to partial shade locations.
- The plants require at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight every day, however will have improved flowering in a full sun location.
- This plant will benefit from afternoon shade however in warmer climates, because shade will protect the plant from excessive heat and sunburn in those hot climates.
- In areas where the plant does not receive sufficient sunlight, it can tend to become leggy, and will also produce less flowers.
- In zone 5b, our chocolate lace flowers are planted in a full sun location.
- By providing chocolate lace flower with appropriate soil conditions, you’ll encourage healthy growth and a wonderful display of blooms.
- Plant into well-drained soil. Soil that has good drainage is important, because it helps to prevent root rot and other issues caused by waterlogged soil.
- Chocolate lace flower can tolerate a wide range of soil conditions.
- The plants do best in a moderately fertile soil, amended with organic matter like compost or aged manure, to provide nutrients for growth.
- Chocolate lace flower has moderate moisture requirements.
- It’s a good idea to water the plants regularly when first planted.
- Once the plants become established in the garden, they will become more drought tolerant, and will be able to grow in dry soils. Prolonged drought however can cause stress to the plant, and impact flowering.
- Therefore, water during times of prolonged drought conditions.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Chocolate Lace Flower An Annual Or Perennial?
Chocolate lace flower is an annual flower, which readily reseeds. It is also considered a biennial in some growing zones, when it will flower in the second year of growth.
Remember that it can take up to a hundred days for the plants to bloom, so those plants that may germinate from self seeding at the end of the season will likely not flower during the first season.
Luckily chocolate lace flower is a hardy plant, and therefore can tolerate cold weather.
Try collecting the seeds at the end of the growing season, when the seeds are mature. If you save them each fall for planting, you can then perpetuate this flower in your garden year after year.
Is Chocolate Lace Flower A Cool Flower?
Chocolate lace flower is considered to be a cool flower. This is due to it’s nature as a hardy cool-season annual plant.
The plants will tolerate the cool weather of early spring, and if hardened off and planted, will also tolerate early spring frosts.
The plants can be planted out in fall in certain growing zones, and will easily survive the winter to begin to grow in spring.
Is Dara The Same As Queen Anne’s Lace?
Dara, or chocolate lace flower, is a variety of Queen Anne’s lace.
It is considered to be a hybrid cultivar of the original wild carrot plant.
How Do You Harvest Chocolate Lace Flowers?
Chocolate lace flowers make outstanding cut flowers.
To get best results when harvesting these flowers as cut flowers, follow these tips:
- Harvest the fresh flowers early in the morning when they are the most hydrated.
- Choose flowers that are partially open to be able to extend vase life. The flowers will then continue to mature and open in the vase.
- Use clean sharp snippers or shears to cut the long stems, and cut the base of the stem at an angle to improve water uptake.
- Remove foliage and side shoots from the lower two thirds of the stem.
- Place the stems immediately into a clean container full of water to condition after harvest.
- Place the container in a cool shaded location for several hours for best results.
Is Daucus Dara Invasive?
Chocolate lace flower, or Daucus carota “Dara”, is generally not considered to be invasive.
This plant is a cultivar of the wild carrot, or Daucus carota, which is considered to be a weed or invasive species in some areas, due to an ability to seed-seed and spread.
The hybrid variety of Dara tends to be better behaved in the garden, although this plant will also self seed.
This self seeding process may be desirable for some gardeners, and not so for others.
To prevent self seeding, deadhead spent blooms before they go to seed.
This practice will also stimulate the plant to grow new stems and produce more blooms, as energy is diverted from seed production to the plant for growth.
Chocolate lace flower is an attractive addition to any flower garden, and with it’s lacy umbels and chocolate brown flowers, it adds a beautiful touch to the space.
Often planted in the cutting garden for use as a cut flower, this plant with it’s lacy flowers and chocolatey blooms is an excellent cut flower.
The plant is easy to grow from seed, and is best started 4-6 weeks before the last frost to get a head start on the growing season.
Although not considered to be invasive, it’s important to monitor for self seeding to maintain a well kept garden.
By addressing the plant’s light, soil, and moisture needs, you can therefore enjoy a beautiful display of chocolate lace flowers in the garden for many years to come.
Make sure to save some seeds at the end of the growing season, to perpetuate this beautiful plant in your garden, and to grow new plants again next year.