Mimulus cardinalis

19 Jul

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Last year I got a couple of pots of this beautiful California native. I put the main plant in a shallow bowl (one of those “color bowls” they often sell in spring, with primroses and mini daffodils and such), and have been watering it every day for the last two summers to keep this riparian plant hydrated. In turn, it has rewarded me with a heavy flowering bowl with these odd shaped trumpet flowers the local hummers adore! Often the hummers will visit this and the ‘Hotlips’ salvia before heading the the feeder to tank up.

In the wild, from what I gather, this is a stream side species. In the garden it just likes to stay moist. Unlike its cousin the Pink Monkeyflowers (Mimulus lewisii), this one doesn’t seem to mind stagnant water, so is a little easier to deal with than that one. I’ve got plans for a water bowl, and I think this will be a star performer in that, with cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis), and maybe a water lily or something. Maybe some wapato (Sagitari latifolia) for height.

Oddly, the one I planted in the ground isn’t happy, probably because it doesn’t get much water. I may have to move it to a wetter part of the garden, maybe under a birdbath or something. Research says it prefers sun over shade, so that may limit where I can move it to though.

At any rate, I don’t know how easy or difficult this is for others, but for me it sailed through the 18 degree cold snaps last winter, in a pot no less, and is doing beautifully again this summer, and attracting hummers just as much as before!

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One final note on caring for these- like most monkeyflowers, these are prolific seed producers. I don’t know how well they will reseed, though I suspect aggressively if left to their own devices. But I choose to deadhead them carefully to keep them flowering longer. In this photo, see the one with the filament sticking out?

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That filament is the old pistil, now drying up as the flower has been fertilized and the energy is going into the large ovary. I pop these off as soon as I see them to keep it flowering longer.

Anyway, I think this is an excellent plant for anyone on the West Coast especially, that wants to attract Anna’s hummingbirds. It is certainly a favorite of them in my garden!

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