The leaves on this plant are bright green and very tasty, ready to start harvesting just 60 days after sowing (or even sooner for smaller, more tender leaves). Richly aromatic, they are perfect for pesto and sandwiches, salads and Mediterranean cuisine.
But unlike most others, Cardinal has spectacular blooms! Very tightly packed in pointed peaks, they begin in late spring from an early planting, and continue all the way into early fall. Magnificent!
And the blooms aren't the only attraction of this beauty. The flowering stems are a rich shade of burgundy as well, standing out brilliantly from the green leaves. Sturdy and strong, they hold their bounty of blooms very nicely!
Cardinal reaches about 24 to 30 inches high in the sunny garden, and spreads 12 to 18 inches wide. It is irresistible to butterflies, bees, and birds, and makes a great container subject. Plant it around the perimeter of your vegetable patch to keep destructive pests at bay -- it will be the most beautiful repellent you've ever used! And mix it right in with annual flowering plants, particularly those lacking a strong scent. Cardinal is happy to share its rich, spicy aroma!
These seeds can be direct-sown in spring after all danger of frost, when night temperatures consistently stay above 50 degrees F. Cover them with a scant ¼-inch of soil, and keep the soil moist until they have sprouted, which usually takes about 5 to 10 days. Alternatively, start them indoors in late winter, 6 to 8 weeks before last scheduled frost, in your Bio-Dome, and transplant them after nights are warm and the seedlings have at least 2 sets of true leaves. You'll be enjoying delectable pestos and admiring fabulous blooms in no time!