Monkeyflowers (genus Mimulus) are California natives that offer bright, profusely blooming color to a water-wise garden. The Latin word ‘mimus’ is derived from the Greek word ‘mimos’ that means “imitator”, referencing the blossoms that (with a bit of imagination) look like painted “mime” or monkey faces. Fast-growing, with a relatively long bloom time and host of environmental benefits, they have become widely popular with good reason.
Cultivars cover a wide variety of vivid tones, ranging from orange, red, yellow, white, purple, and burgundy to multicolored. Flowers are tube-shaped at the base and feature five lobes, sometimes ruffled. Leaves may be sticky, downy and tooth-edged, or shiny and dark. Many species are evergreen.
This ‘Ruby slippers’ monkeyflower grows as an upright, bushy shrub with green, sticky leaves that will reach up to 2 feet in height. The aurantiacus species are honey plants, pollinated by bees and hummingbirds. Adaptable to many soil types and needs little water — an excellent choice for a sustainable garden. Aurantiacus most commonly blossoms light orange, yellow, white and red.
The ‘Junipera serra’ is sometimes mistakenly identified as an azalea due to the shape of its abundant flowers. A spreading, bushy shrublet, this species is a prolific bloomer and will remain in flower from early spring to late fall. Long, dark, narrow foliage is evergreen.
The ‘Jellybean’ species is rightly named, colorful as a bag of candy with its snapdragon-like blooms in orange, yellow and white. These small, upright, free-branching shrubs have glossy dark-green narrow leaves and spread 1 to 3 feet. Large, frilly flowers abound nearly all year round. This species is particularly attractive to hummingbirds, which transfer pollen on their foreheads due to the tubular shape of the blossoms.
Soil and Water Requirements
Mimulus prefer well-drained soil and good air circulation in full sun to light shade. As true natives, they are adaptable to a variety of soil conditions (rocky, sandy, and clay) and are hardy through local climate fluctuations. Limit watering for most species to stave off a variety of root rot pathogens.
Keep mimulus shrubs deadheaded to stimulate reblooming. In fall, after flowering season has subsided, cut back plants by about one-third of their height. An early spring pruning will also encourage new shoots to sprout and keep plants filled out and bushy.
Mimulus can work well in many parts of a landscape and are proof that vibrant color and interest are not sacrificed when choosing sustainable, water-conserving plants. Use in mixed borders, containers, or even rock gardens. Combine with other spring and summer-blooming native plants like Ceanothus, or accent with succulents like aloe and agave for striking texture.
- Fast Growing
- Long Blooming
- Deer Resistant
- Attracts hummingbirds, bees, butterflies, and beneficial insects
- Grows in many soil types
- Edible (though bitter unless well-cooked)
Evergreen Nursery stocks a wide variety of colorful Mimulus and would love to assist you in choosing the plants that are right for your garden. Visit the nursery for personal guidance, or use the Plant Finder to browse our selection before you arrive.
A beauty from spring through fall: M. hybrid ‘Valentine’