Belladonna, Official (Atropa belladonna) seeds, organic
Herbaceous perennial. Native to Central and Southern Europe. Nodding, dark, bell-shaped flowers give way to large, soft, shining black berries—a very charming but insidious plant. Do not ingest. Traditional usage (TWM):mydriatic, muscle and nerve pain, motion sickness. Plant prefers partial to full shade, average fertility, moist soil. Sow in fall or early spring. Slow to germ. Some degree of cold conditioning usually helpful. Sow in shade or early spring greenhouse. Sprinkle seed on surface, barely cover, tamp securely, and keep evenly moist until germination, which can take weeks. Grow on for some time in pots before transplanting to the landscape. Educate children not to eat this plant. Space plants 2 feet apart. Grows to 3 feet tall, flowers purple.
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Eimi (verified owner) – May 25, 2022
Hi Richo, I’ve been struggling with keeping my belladonna alive for longer than 1 season. I am in zone 8b (central TX), and am growing them in pots and in ground. All my plants are in dappled sun and well-draining soil. But I keep having plants that just wilt and die in a matter of days. This happens to both plants in pots and in ground, and it generally happens during summer. The dying plants’ roots almost look like root rot, even though I’m super mindful of not overwatering. Some plants would grow nice and big, flowering and forming
fruits, then suddenly they wilt and die. I haven’t noticed any visible pests in roots. Do you have any suggestions, of what the problem might be? Is belladonna more prone to root rot than some other nightshades? Thank you much in advance!
Richo Cech – May 25, 2022
hello eimi, in an 8b it seems like belladonna should be in the full shade. i agree with you about fast-draining, had some literally making rhizomes in the creek gravel of the greenhouse floor and they expanded hugely that way. yes, they can get a kind of root rot. one possible fix would be to grow) the Atropa caucasica instead–it is very similar (some say a subspecies of the offical one) except it is more heat and drought tolerant. r
Eimi (verified owner) – May 25, 2022
Thank you for the suggestion! I’m actually about to purchase some A. caucasica seeds. I’ll certainly give those a try.
Meredith (verified owner) – May 7, 2021
What is the best but also quickest way to cold treat belladonna before planting? I have read as little as two weeks and as much as a month in the refrigerator. Any suggestions on the best way to do this? Would putting them in the freezer speed up the stratification process?
Richo Cech – May 7, 2021
Hi Meredith and everyone, Please never freeze any of our seeds–it is a very fast way to damage them. In nature, seeds are in the soil strata when they freeze, and freezing and thawing occur slowly and at natural intervals. The home freezer is no substitute. I don’t think the ascribed cold treatment periods are usually critical. To cold stratify belladonna seeds before planting, put them in moist coir, peat or sand in a baggie in the fridge for a couple of weeks and then surface-sow and keep shaded and warm. We generally get good results just planting belladonna in a cool greenhouse in the fall or early spring. I think we still have plants for sale right now. They are worth it, they are nice. richo
Belladonna, Deadly Nightshade
Belladonna is a traditional West European magick herb associated with Saturn , like its cousins hellebore , henbane , and mandrake . As one of the baneful herbs, it is used in works concerning death and death’s opposite – healing. The name “Belladonna” is said to be derived from the fact that Italian women at one time made drops from the plant which caused their pupils to dilate and thus made them more desirable, but perhaps it is instead a reference to this plant’s dedication to the Goddess (the Beautiful Lady) and historically it was used in rituals honoring a Roman goddess of war, Bellona. Even now, parts of this plant are helpful inclusions in fumes dedicated to making war. European witches used this plant in flying ointments, extracting its constituents into fat and rubbing it on the skin, so it had a place in every witch’s garden. It is still traditionally associated with astral projection, but this plant is especially Saturnian in that it is said to create feelings of heaviness rather than lightness, being dragged down to the ground rather than flying. In traditional witchcraft, belladonna is typically sung to upon harvesting. Some even dance naked in front of the plant. This is in keeping with some cultures’ use of belladonna for sex magick. Don’t try this at home, kids–belladonna is, to my mind, the single most tricky of all the nightshades. I love it, and it is a beauty, but I would not think of ingesting it.
Belladonna grows 2-5ft/60-150cm tall with coarse, large leaves and odd brownish purple flowers that appear to be veined. The flowers have a slight coldly sweet scent right up close. Its Latin name comes from the Greek fate Atropos, who was responsible for cutting the thread of each person’s life when the time comes, a well chosen reference, since this plant can be fatal to humans and is poisonous to all carnivores. It is especially dangerous for children, who are particularly sensitive to its poisonousness and sometimes attracted to the shiny, handsome berries. Either don’t plant this where children play, teach them that it is a poison, or just snip off the flowers as they wilt–the plant will then produce no berries. Always wear gloves when handling belladonna. This plant is highly unpredictable in its action on the human body, which adds to its dangerousness. to my mind, it has many Fae qualities, even though it is not normally identified with the Good Folk. Belladonna is a lso known as Dwale, Banewort, Devil’s Cherries, Naughty Man’s Cherries, Divale, Black Cherry, Devil’s Herb, Great Morel, and Dwayberry. Best planted on a Saturday. Top