Monkey Flower – Mimulus

Monkey Flowers are delightful plants with cheerful and colourful flowers that resemble Antirrhinums. They have a long flowering period, from summer to autumn.

The botanical name Mimulus means mimic or actor, and refers to the plant’s flowers, which in some varieties look like little animal faces.

The plant originates in North and South America, from Alaska to Chile. The varieties Mimulus luteus and M. moschatus have been naturalized in Britain. The natural habitat of the Monkey Flower is boggy or marshy ground.

The most popular cultivated plants vary in height from 10-60cm. Some are mat-forming, others are upright or climbing.Monkey Flower - Mimulus

Colours and varieties The Monkey Flower comes in many shades and combinations of yellow, orange and red. Varieties that make good house plants, as well as plants for tubs or pots outdoors, include Mimulus luteus, which has yellow flowers spotted with dark red, M. cupreus, with yellow to coppery-orange flowers, and the hybrid M. x burnettii, which has coppery-yellow flowers.

M. ringens is an aquatic variety suitable for a small pond, although it can also be grown in pots. Unlike most varieties, it has lavender-blue flowers.

Looking after your plant

Mimulus luteus, M. cupreus and M. variegatus can be raised from seed in February for flowering the some year. Other varieties are raised as biennials from seed sown during March or April.

1 Sow seed in trays or boxes of seed compost and cover with a piece of glass. Keep at 13°— 16°C (55°-61°F) until they have germinated.

2 When the seedlings are large enough to handle, prick them out into trays and grow on at 10°-13°C (50°-55°F).

3 Move young plants into 8cm (3in) pots and harden them off by putting the plants outdoors during the day and bringing them indoors in the evening. Plant out at the end of May. Biennials will not flower until the following year.

Pests And Diseases

Plants raised from seed are rarely attacked by disease or pests.

A short flowering period results from not keeping the compost moist enough. Prevention: Water generously and regularly during the summer. The plant should be kept constantly moist.

Late flowering is caused by low temperatures.

Prevention: Harden the plants off after potting up and before planting out in late May.

PLANT CARE

This plant requires care and regular attention.

  • Potting: Use a soil-based potting compost, although Mimulus luteus and M. ringens can be grown in shallow water, either in a small patio pool or a water-proof tub. Repot only when the roots have spread to the edge of the pot.
  • The compost must always be moist. Water generously in the summer and sparingly during the winter.
  • Feeding: Feed once or twice during the summer with a weak solution of a standard liquid fertilizer.

BEST GROWTH ENVIRONMENT

  • Light: The plant requires good light and can be grown in full sun or partial shade.
  • Temperature: It will tolerate summer temperatures of 200— 24°C (68°-75°F). In all but the mildest areas of Britain perennial varieties need protection in winter and are best brought indoors or overwintered in a greenhouse at 10°— 13°C (50°-55°F).

Buying Tips

  • Monkey Flower is usually available in the spring. Look for it at well-stocked garden centres or nurseries.
  • Choose a plant with healthy growth.
  • The Monkey Flower includes both hardy annual and perennial varieties. Although perennials are often grown as annuals, they can be overwintered indoors. Ifproperly cared for, the plant will live for several years.

In its natural habitat, the Monkey Flower grows in the wet conditions found in bogs, but if kept well watered it will do equally well in pots or tubs.

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