What is a monkeyflower (Mimulus): characteristics and care guide for this evergreen hardy plant
If you’re looking for an eye-catching plant that will turn heads in your garden all summer long, a Mimulus plant, also known as monkeyflower and jester flower, should be high on your list. These bushy, evergreen shrubs have relatively simple needs and will reward you with an abundance of blooms. Mimulus is a genus containing both hardy perennials and hardy annuals and semi-hardy perennials. These fast-growing plants are valued not only for their showy flowers but also for their relatively long flowering times.
What is a monkeyflower – general information on the topic
- The name of this genus has its roots in ancient Greece. It comes from the Greek word mimo, which means monkey. To many people, the flowers of these plants look like monkey faces.
- This genus was originally placed in the Scrophulariaceae family. After some time, it was moved to the Phrymaceae family, which mainly includes herbs and subshrubs.
- There are no reports of toxic effects on the jellyfish. It is considered safe for humans and animals.
- Many Mimulus species are edible. The entire plant is safe, but can often be too bitter to consume, especially when raw. The leaves are sometimes used in salads.
- The monkeyflower was often used by Native Americans as a salt substitute for meat. It has a high concentration of sodium chloride and other salts. Today it is widely used in homeopathy as it is believed to reduce anxiety and stress. One particular strain, the Mimulus Guttatus, has been used more extensively for its medicinal properties. It is used as an anti-inflammatory and to treat back pain, headaches, wounds, and burns. It is also believed to prevent depression.
- The plant is quite hardy and not known to be susceptible to pests or diseases.
- The monkeyflower is not only an asset to your garden for aesthetic reasons but also because it is of great value to the local wildlife. Their flowers attract hummingbirds, butterflies, and other beneficial pollinators. Birds are also attracted to it because they eat its seeds. Caterpillars and other insects still feed on their leaves.
Characteristics of Mimulus – What does a monkeyflower look like?
- Mimulus plants can reach a height of up to 45 cm and a width of up to 90 cm.
- Most species of cockerel are evergreen. The leaves can be round or elliptical, with an average width of 1 cm and a tip length of 7 cm. The leaves are different for each species. They can be shiny or sticky and are light or dark green tones. In some species, the leaves are downy or tooth-edged.
- The showy Mimulus flowers come in many intense colors such as yellow, orange, red, burgundy, purple, white, and even multicolored. It blooms from late spring to late summer. In areas with mild autumn, you can even enjoy the October blossom.
Fun fact: The monkeyflower is not to be confused with the orchid monkey face. These are different plants.
How to care for Mimulus
The mercury thrives in moist locations. It does best at the edge of a stream, in a moist bed, or in a damp spot. It is very adaptable to sun exposure, provided soil moisture can balance the heat. It typically grows best in the shade, but can also thrive in full sun if rooted in moist, non-drying soil. In general, a semi-shady location results in bushier foliage but fewer flowers. A sunnier location, on the other hand, leads to more flowers and fewer leaves.
Mimulus can also be cultivated as an aquatic plant. Once fully grown, plant them in shallow water only. Seedlings and young plants are more delicate and could drown if planted directly into the water. Keep in mind that plants that grow in shallow water can become invasive at times.
Regardless of whether you plant the plant in the water or in the ground, you should depilate it before it starts sowing. As far as overwintering goes, don’t worry too much about monkeyflowers. Most species are hardy to at least -20 °C.
How to plant juggler flower
If you don’t have a body of water in your garden, you’ll need to find another way to provide jellyfish with the moist soil they need to thrive. The seeds should be planted at the surface of the soil while the roots should be buried at the base of the stem.
To create an ideal growing environment for Mimulus plants, enrich your garden soil with hummus, clay, or loam. Overall, the soil should be poorly drained. In terms of pH, the plant can adapt to all soils, whether alkaline, acidic, or neutral.
Watering the Mimulus plant
This plant likes water with a neutral pH of 5.6 to 7.5. Planting them at the edge of a stream or pond means you don’t have to worry about watering. If you plant the plant in a container or in a garden that does not have a water source nearby, you must ensure that the soil is always kept moist.
The frequency of watering depends on the size of the container and the drainage capacity of the soil. It is best to check the soil regularly until you know how long it is taking for it to dry out. This way you can set up a watering schedule that will prevent the soil from drying out.
Propagation of the monkeyflower
Mimulus plants can be propagated by seed, division, or softwood cuttings. For propagation from seed, you need to sow the seeds in early spring. If you are new to gardening, use a seed starter kit. You can also use an egg carton or cardboard seed tray. However, without proper coverage, maintaining adequate moisture levels is more difficult.
Whatever you decide, scatter the seeds and lightly cover them with soil. Seedlings should sprout within 8-10 weeks. Once the danger of the last frost has passed, you can transplant them outdoors. The good thing about cardboard seedboxes is that you can cut off the individual boxes and plant them outside. You don’t need to remove the seedlings from each cardboard container.