Moon carrot: interesting, unusual, and fun!

Seseli gummiferum Moon Carrot Plant Select

Once again Plant Select® has found an unusual plant to promote that has been in the trade but underused in local gardens. Commonly known as the moon carrot, Sesli gummiferum comes to the program backed by accolades from our own Denver Botanic Gardens. It has been field grown en masse by local growers who are supplying the seed. This easy to grow, adaptable plant now needs a home in your garden!

The common name alone evokes an image that is hard to resist. The foliage is silvery-blue and lacy. As is typical with biennials, the plant remains in a basal rosette the first year. The second year a thick flower stalk arises bearing many pale pink flowers clustered in large, flat umbels. Blooms are continuous and generous from midsummer through fall. Try planting moon carrot in a ‘white garden’ where the moon’s reflection will highlight the foliage, or use it as an accent plant next to the more staid green foliage of your other plants. You will find this plant adds a sculptural surprise to your garden.

Moon carrot is easy to grow in either full sun or part shade and is not fussy about soils. It can adapt to moderate or low watering regimes. Remember that moon carrot is biennial; two years completes this plant’s life cycle. As with many biennial plants, future generations are normally assured through a plentiful seed supply if you allow your plant’s seeds to ripen and fall. Mother Nature will be sure to do the rest!

View the plant profile here.

Moon Carrot (Seseli gummiferum)

Biennial or short-lived perennial

Height: 24-36″
Width: 10-15″
Blooms: Midsummer to fall.
Sun: Full sun to partial shade.
Soil Moisture: Moderate to xeric
Hardiness: USDA zones 5-9.
Culture: Garden loam, clay or sandy soil

Thanks to Celia Tannehill for writing this piece.

33 responses to “Moon carrot: interesting, unusual, and fun!”

  1. Paula Mann says:

    I am unable to locate seeds for these either in our local Ft. Collins nurseries or the online retailers you’ve listed. Any ideas where I can find them?

    • Alan Gorkin says:

      seed is available from grand prismatic seed.

    • Barbara says:

      I have a beautiful specimen and I cut the stalks last fall, intending to use them somehow, but they’re still laying on my front steps. If you think they could still germinate at this point, I’d be happy to send seeds. I’m in a solid zone 4 but this plant has survived for 3 winters here (near the front of the house).

      • Ross Shrigley says:

        Sow the seed, some of it is viable.

      • Felicia says:

        I would love have your seeds Barbara!

        • Barbara says:

          Felicia, sorry I didn’t see this until now. I still have last year’s seeds, and the plant is doing well again this year and has even thrown some babies near it. You can email me at barblien (at) mac (dot) com if you’d like me to mail seeds and/or babies to you. Derp, I don’t know how to give you my contact info without being buried in spam!

  2. Pat Hayward says:

    Most of our plants are sold as plants, with seed available primarily to commercial growers. Sorry – I don’t know of a retail source of seed, but if you know someone growing them, you can certainly collect seed off their plants.

  3. Eliza says:

    How can I buy a moon carrot plant? Do you sell these at the Denver Botanic Gardens?

    • Pat Hayward says:

      Plants are often available at local independent garden centers, but it’s pretty late in the season (mid July) so it’d probably be best to wait until next spring. DBG sometimes has plants for sale, but usually only at the big sale on Mother’s Day weekend.

  4. Deby Janicek says:

    Just saw this at Jeffco fairgrounds and loved it BUT noticed it was inundated with yellowjackets!
    They didn’t swarm me but I’m curious as to whether this plant is known for attracting them.

    • LM says:

      We have had a moon carrot for 3 years now and it has not yet bloomed, let alone set flowers. It is in part sun and has grown a bit more every year, but, though the foliage is wonderful, we would love to see flowers. It is currently only about 15” tall, which is about 5” taller than last year. Would it be okay to move it to a full sun location, or just give it another year where it is?

      • Ross Shrigley says:

        Unusual because Moon carrot is a biennial. See if it blooms next year. They have a large taproot that does not allow it to be easily transplanted.

        • LM says:

          Thank you, I hadn’t known about the taproot. We will leave it as is and keep our fingers crossed!

        • Michelle B. says:

          In my area (Cheyenne, WY) and in my limited experience, I’ve found these plants take a few years to bulk up enough to bloom. About half of my 2019 seedlings are blooming this year (2021). My largest specimen is only 27″ tall but a full 34″ wide — and still expanding. The other plants may be large enough to bloom next year. My friend (also in the Cheyenne area) and I shared a packet of seeds from GeoSeeds, and her experience has been similar to mine. No complaints at all. The foliage contrasts nicely with the foliage of other plants, and watching the umbels unfurl over the course of several weeks has been a treat.

          • Linnea says:

            My moon carrot attracts bees and wasps, and all the gorgeous butterflies. Perfect plant for a pollinator garden. The bees swarm the flower but not me!

        • Rudy Bauer says:

          My Moon carrot took 4-5 years before I got a super plant in it’s second year. The original plant was small but the seeds worked to give me a new plant. I’ll post pictures of the bloom soon as it grows over an inch a day and the head is opening.

  5. Karen says:

    A lovely plant I first saw on a visit to the Denver Botanical Gardens in 2014. Geoseed Seed Company sells the seed.

  6. Sandra says:

    I’ve had mine in a very well drained, poorly watered, sunny location for five years now and it is very happy looking (Denver)

  7. Tom says:

    I’ve read that it attracts wasps, but hadn’t really noticed it on our planting. However, it seemed to attract a huge number of house flies when it flowered. Ours were dormant this year, but I’ll check again next year when it flowers again.

  8. Felicia Hirning says:

    I just got my seeds! Thank you. I am planted them per Lauren Ogden’s Plant Select Chaperral Xeriscape
    Design listed on your website. She uses them as a filler until some of the shrubs grow in.

  9. Felicia Hirning says:

    Does plant select have yard signs advertising water wise gardens? Emily Goldman did a wonderful xeriscape design on my front lawn and I see people walk by looking at the plants with curiosity.

  10. Rebekah Fisher says:

    I don’t understand the biennial aspect. When you say that two years completes the growing cycle, does that mean the plant is spent or will it keep repeating the two year cycle?

    • Ross Shrigley says:

      The first year this plant germinates, it only reveals its beautiful lacy blue-grey foliage through the growing season. Its second year of life is the floral show! Watch it bloom like crazy! Then it rarely lives the next year. That’s why one will want to spread the seed that fall to start new plants and that cycle again.

  11. Donna says:

    Good Earth Garden Center has this plant in 2 inch containers for $3.99!!

  12. rhonda says:

    The moon carrot has just grown in my garden. I did not plant any seeds, just I guess from vege scraps. What do u do with it? Is there a carrot there or is is just a plant.

  13. […] such as yarrow (Achillea millefolium), fennel (Foeniculum vulgare), Goldenrod (Solidago spp.), and moon carrot (Seseli gummiferum), that appeal to small pollinators. When controlling aphids, spray them off with […]

  14. Laura Nutt says:

    I bought this plant at The Flower Bin in Longmont, CO. I was thrilled to find an actual, very healthy plant. I brought it home to Kansas. I’m excited to see how it grows here. I first saw it at the university gardens in Fort Collins. Fingers crossed it likes the Jayhawks State.

  15. robyn says:

    Any idea when this plant first came to America? I’d really love to know. Thanks.

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