Advice for the Home Gardener from the Help Desk of the
UC Master Gardener Program of Contra Costa County
Client's Request: I'm trying to grow Mimulus in ground and in pots the last several years and not having any success. Would you please provide me guidance. Thank You.
To successfully grow most flowers, it is important to follow these basic guidelines:
- Choose the right plant for where you plan to plant.Use the best and most suitable soil for your plant.
- Read the tag for the watering requirements. Some plants need water often, while others require it only infrequently.
- Make sure your plant has the right light exposure.
- Remove faded flowers to encourage more flowering. Pinch off growth tips to encourage a bushier plant.
- Follow guidelines for fertilization and preferably use organic fertilizers.
- Consider using a mulch to keep soil cooler, retain moisture and limit weed growth.
- Watch for and manage pests.
On the other hand, there is a mimulus species that is a California native and is drought tolerant and a perennial. Bush monkeyflower, or sticky monkeyflower (also spelled monkey flower), are erect or sprawling woody perennial mimosa plants. They get their name from the funnel-shaped, two-lipped flowers that are said to resemble grinning monkey faces. Monkeyflowers bloom in spring and summer and have exuberant 1 to 2 inch blossoms that range in color from white to yellow, orange, or red. They flower better in full sun but will tolerate part or even full shade. The 1 to 3-inch leaves range in color from green to silver, and can sometimes be sticky and hairy. Monkeyflower is native to southwestern North America, from southwestern Oregon and south through most of California. It's important to be careful when choosing a monkeyflower species for your yard because some varieties are native to the coastal areas and aren't as drought tolerant. The Mimulus diplacus species is the drought-tolerant woody perennial you should choose.
Here are several links that provide additional information:
- growing Mimulus: http://mgsantaclara.ucanr.edu/garden-help/water-wise-plants/full-plant-list/?uid=64&ds=833.
- How to grow mimulus from seed: https://homeguides.sfgate.com/grow-mimulus-40769.html.
I hope this information is helpful and let us know if you have any further questions.
Help Desk of the UC Master Gardener Program of Contra Costa County (EKP)
Note: UC Master Gardeners Program of Contra Costa's Help Desk is available almost year-round to answer your gardening questions. Except for a few holidays (e.g., last 2 weeks December), we're open every week, Monday through Thursday for walk-ins from 9:00 am to Noon at 2380 Bisso Lane, Concord, CA 94520. We can also be reached via telephone: (925) 608-6683, email: firstname.lastname@example.org, or on the web at http://ccmg.ucanr.edu/Ask_Us/. MGCC Blogs can be found at http://ccmg.ucanr.edu/HortCoCo/ You can also subscribe to the Blog.
Advice for the Home Gardener from the Help Desk of the
UC Master Gardener Program of Contra Costa County
Client's Request: I went on Tuesday evening to a very good presentation at the Lafayette Library by Master Gardeners. I had a question that the presenters could not answer and their advice was to ask it directly to the Help Desk -- so, here it is....
I have planted a new garden with native plants and have not added any amendment to support the plants' growth. I read online that mycorrhizal fungi can be added after the plant has been set in the ground and it will enable healthier root and plan growth. Is that correct?
Help Desk Response: Thank you for contacting the UC Master Gardener program regarding mycorrhizal fungi and your native garden. We know that plants and mycorrhizal fungi live in a symbiotic relationship, very beneficial to both species. The fungi colonize the plant roots, helping with uptake of water and minerals. It is well known that plants in healthy soils with good mycorrhizal colonization are much healthier. You can promote this by appropriate irrigation, minimizing soil disturbance by not tilling, and limiting fertilizer, especially phosphorus. Also, using a surface mulch will help.
There have been many studies on the effects of mycorrhizae on growing plants, which show definite benefits, but it is not clear that adding them to an existing landscape is helpful. There are many different species of mycorrhizae, and it seems that they need to be adapted to the particular environment or plant species, and if you add 'foreign' ones, those native fungi already present may defend their territory and your garden will receive little or no benefit. Also, one study that I know of looked at viability of commercially available mycorrhizae inoculants and found that some did not have any live ones! That being said, if you still want to try this, a reputable and appropriate source should be used.
If your garden was prepared appropriately, and the plants are healthy and thriving, and you are using mulch, it should be fine without adding the mycorrhizae. In addition, I could not find any recommendation to add mycorrhizae for this situation on the California Native Plant Society website: http://www.cnps.org/cnps/grownative/getstarted/starting_a_garden.php
I hope this has been helpful and that your garden will thrive. If you have further questions, please feel free to contact us again.
Help Desk of the UC Master Gardener Program of Contra Costa County (SMW)
Note: The UC Master Gardeners Program of Contra Costa's Help Desk is available year-round to answer your gardening questions. Except for a few holidays, we're open every week, Monday through Thursday for walk-ins from 9:00 am to Noon at 75 Santa Barbara Road, 2d Floor, Pleasant Hill, CA 94523. We can also be reached via telephone: (925)646-6586, email: email@example.com, or on the web at http://ccmg.ucanr.edu/Ask_Us/ MGCC Blogs can be found at http://ccmg.ucanr.edu/HortCoCo/ You can also subscribe to the Blog (http://ucanr.edu/blogs/CCMGBlog/)/span>
Advice From the Help Desk
of the UC Master Gardener Program
While the plants featured by the several organizations are California native plants, they may not be "native" to where the garden was actually located. Have you ever wondered what the “native plants” were where you actually live and garden? Well, the California Native Plant Society along with UC's Jepson Herbarium (and many other herbariums and collectors) did and they have implemented a very useful graphic database on the web, www.calscape.org, that has cataloged what actually was native to your garden … right down to your address. So now you can "easily" plant and grow what was originally “native” vs. what “natives” you could grow… maybe. Their efforts are at www.calscape.org.
Below are edited excerpts from the “About” page of calscape.org to entice you to check it out:
Our goal at Calscape is to help Californians restore nature and save water one garden at a time. We do this by showing people which plants are really native to any location in the state, helping them figure out which ones they want, and where to buy them and how to grow them.
California is an extremely environmentally diverse state. Different California native plants evolved to grow in areas of the state with very different temperatures, rainfall levels, summer drought periods, air moisture levels, and marine influences, among other factors. Because of this, it's always best to grow California native plants in the areas in which they evolved. They are easier to grow, healthier and require little or no artificial irrigation when they are planted in an area in which they evolved and naturally belong. Native California plants that aren't really native to that location will often struggle or die no matter how much you water them.
True native plants are the foundation for nature restoration. They attract birds, reptiles, amphibians, small mammals and insects and other pollinators that evolved with those plants, and over time create a working natural ecosystem, without pesticides, and without artificial fertilizers. The bird life in particular in a true natural garden is often spectacular. With the right plants, it's not hard for homeowners to create small patches of nature throughout even the developed part of the state.
Our estimates for which plant species naturally grow in each square mile of California are based on algorithms using the GPS locations of over a million field occurrences of native California plant species provided by the participants of the California Consortia of Herbaria, the 36Jepson geographic subdivisions, and detailed elevations profiles within each square mile of California.
Sources of plant photos include Calphotos, and dozens of amazing plant photographers who have agreed to share their photos with Calscape. Authorship and copyright information is shown under each plant photo.
Other sources include Wikipedia, which is an important source for the "About" sections in the Calscape plant pages. In many cases the sections have been edited and built on by Calscape volunteer editors. …
[S]unset information was provided by The Jepson Flora Project.
Propagation from seed information was provided by the Santa Barbara Botanical Garden from "Seed Propagation of Native California Plants" by Dara E. Emery.
Other general sources of information include Calflora, CNPS Manual of Vegetation Online, Jepson eFlora, Las Pilitas, Theodore Payne, Tree of Life, The Xerces Society, and information provided by CNPS volunteer editors, with special thanks to Don Rideout.”
The input and effort for Calscape.org is very impressive, solid, and can only get better as it allows for edited input on locations, plants, etc. (e.g., think Wikipedia) If you are interested in the impetus that led to calscape.org and how it was “built”, Dennis Mudd, one of calscape.org leaders provided some details in a recent radio interview. (He was also the founder of the digital music website Slacker.) He said he was motivated to construct this website because he planted so many drought-tolerant plants in his San Diego garden that died. But he couldn't find a site which told him what he should be planting instead. Thank you Dennis!
Help Desk of the UC Master Gardener Program of Contra Costa (SIM)
Note: The UC Master Gardeners Program of Contra Costa's Help Desk is available year-round to answer your gardening questions. Except for a few holidays, we're open every week, Monday through Thursday for walk-ins from 9:00 am to Noon at 75 Santa Barbara Road, 2d Floor, Pleasant Hill, CA 94523. We can also be reached via telephone: (925) 646-6586, email: firstname.lastname@example.org, or on the web at http://ccmg.ucanr.edu/Ask_Us/ MGCC Blogs can be found at http://ccmg.ucanr.edu/HortCoCo/ You can also subscribe to the Blog (http://ucanr.edu/blogs/CCMGBlog/).