Five Spot – Nemophila maculata

Five Spot is a low-growing hardy annual from California, valued for its attractively marked white flowers. Each of the five petals is finely veined with purple and carries a deep purple blotch on its margin.

In the wild it tends to creep over the surface of the ground, and is often found growing at the edge of woodland, usually in full sunlight.

The growing tips point upwards towards the sun, and the saucer-shaped flowers are borne at the end of the shoots, making a brilliant carpet of strong colour.

The light green leaves are many-lobed and occasionally marked with small white spots. The flowers are 2.5cm (1 in) wide, veined with thin purple lines running from the centre to the deep purple spot at each petal edge. The plant grows about 15cm (6in) high.Five Spot - Nemophila maculata

Varieties

N. menziesii, popularly called Baby Blue-Eyes, has bright blue flowers with a white centre and feathery, light green leaves. It grows to about 20cm (8in) and the flowers are larger than those of Five Spot.

Display ideas

For a cool look, grow in a window-box with white-flowered plants.

Growing from seed

You can grow Five Spot quite easily from seed. Autumn sowings will produce plants that start flowering in the spring. Spring sown plants will flower during the summer.

1 Sow the seeds in September or March in pots or seed trays, or where they are to flower. Use a mix of 3 parts soil-based corn-

post and I part grit or coarse sand. Cover the seeds with a light sprinkling of compost.

2 Water well and keep the compost moist. When the seedlings are large enough to handle, thin out to about 15cm (bin) apart.

3 For pot plants, pot up 3 young plants in a 13cm )Sin) pot. Autumn sowings flower in late spring.

Pests And Diseases

As long as they are given plenty of fresh air, sunshine and water, Five Spot plants are generally trouble-free.

Distorted leaves and shoots and a sticky deposit are signs of attack by aphids. Usually only plants grown indoors, in greenhouses or conservatories, will be attacked. Treatment: Spray the plant with a suitable insecticide. If possible, give your plant a spell outdoors in the sunshine.

PLANT CARE

This is a very easy plant to care for, provided it is given a sunny position.

  • Potting: Pot seedlings in the spring using 3 parts soil-based potting compost and 1 part coarse sand.
  • Water generously during spring and summer. Keep overwintered seedlings just moist.
  • Feeding: Feed from March to September every 2 weeks with a standard liquid fertilizer.

BEST GROWTH ENVIRONMENT

  • Light: Give Five Spot as much sun as possible.
  • Temperature: In summer these Californian plants will enjoy the hottest conditions you can give them. Young plants overwintered should be protected from frost during the winter.

Buying Tips

  • Commercially raised plants are sometimes offered for sale in the spring, with other bedding plants, at large garden centres and nurseries.
  • Choose healthy, compact plants with an abundance of flower buds.
  • Five Spot is an annual, and should be discarded after it has flowered.

Produced over a long period in spring or summer, the white saucer-shaped flowers with their distinctive purple blotches make Five Spot a prime choice for sunny positions.

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