Monday, December 2, 2013

Nemesia — A Lesser Known Winter Annual

Posted By on Mon, Dec 2, 2013 at 10:00 AM

Rose Nemesia with Heuchera
  • The Potted Desert
  • Rose Nemesia with Heuchera

Even beginning gardeners are familiar with annual flowers such as pansies, violas, snapdragons and petunias. Mid-westerners and northern state residents plant then in the summer but here in the desert, they are part of our winter mix, holding up very well in potted gardens and flower bed. In addition to these old favorites, I enjoy exploring lesser known plants and mix them up in my container gardens to invite people to ask “What’s that plant?”

Nemesia is a fascinating cool-season annual with little snapdragon-shape flowers that bloom in a wide range of colors. It does best in our desert winters, though I had a nice surprise this past summer when my Nemesia continued to grow and flower throughout the summer! It did get some afternoon shade and regular water so I am sure that helped. Nemesia prefers moist, well-drained soil that's rich in organic matter. Originally from South Africa, the small flowers resemble snapdragons and linaria, to which they are related.

Nemesia grows from one to two feet tall, but tend to stay smaller in our heat. You will want to deadhead regularly to prolong their bloom as is true with most of our annual flowers. When flowers do start to decline, cut the plant back to stimulate new growth. Expect your plants’ performance to slow down as the weather heats up.

Designing with Nemesia:
Since Nemesia has such a small flower and its flower clusters will never fill a bed with color, I recommend using it in pots that are closer to the viewing area of that pot. Good locations are near a patio seating area, close to a window you pass by frequently and one that gets 6 hours of sun each day. The flowers bloom in large clusters at the top of the branching stems. There's a wide color range, including yellow, orange, pink, red, and lavender-blue. I team up the plants with strong bloomers around the base of the Nemesia and mix in other larger flowers at the mid-height range so the Nemesia is a delicate surprise popping out among the color.

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Marylee is the founder and former owner of Tucson’s The Contained Gardener. With more than 15 years of successfully designing and growing potted gardens in the desert’s challenging and oftentimes harsh climate, Marylee has become known as the Desert’s Potted Garden Expert. Marylee is available for in-home or digital consultations and you can always email her with your questions and comments. Follow The Potted Desert on Facebook!

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