Monkey Around With Mimulus

Garden Planner: By Mary James


Monkey Around With Mimulus


Why native mimulus with their showy orange, yellow and red azalea-like blossoms are called monkeyflowers is a bit of a mystery. (Some claim to see a monkey face in the blossom.) But it’s not hard to discern why breeders have been captivated by these diverse spring-blooming shrubs that thrive in the wild but can be a challenge in home landscapes. Here are some of their garden-friendly hybrids, all wholesaled by San Marcos Growers to area specialty nurseries.

‘Valentine’: One of several hybrids from former UCLA botanic garden curator David Verity, this 2- to 3-foot shrub bears vivid red flowers, often year-round in coastal gardens. Other Verity creations include ‘Ruby Silver’ with red flowers and silvery-looking foliage and ‘Hybrid Orange’ with frilly golden orange flowers.

‘Jelly Bean White’: This is one in the Jelly Bean series from Northern California breeder Richard Persoff. ‘Jelly Bean White’ has large ruffled flowers and shiny foliage typical of the group that also includes orange, lemon and gold-flowering plants. Among other well-known Persoff monkeyflowers are burgundy ‘Jack’, pastel yellow ‘Sam’ and rosy pink ‘Trish’.

‘Georgie Tangerine’: Ball Horticulture includes this in its Curious Monkeyflower series bred by Scott Trees and introduced since 2010. Also available with red, yellow or white flowers, plants in this series are compact, growing 1- to 2-feet tall, and free flowering.

For long-lived plants, grow Mimulus in sharp draining soil in full sun to part shade with good air circulation. Minimize summer watering once flowering ends to prevent fatal fungal diseases.

Categories: Gardening