- Author: Leonard Cicerello
- Editor: Noni Todd
California Monkey Flower
By Leonard Cicerello UCCE Master Gardener
California Monkey Flowers
Mimulus aurantiacus (Diplacus aurantiacus)
Growing areas: California Sunset zones 7-9 and 14-24
Size of plant: Up to 4 ½ feet tall and wide
Bloom description and season: Funnel-shaped, two-lipped flowers said to resemble a grinning monkey face. Different species exhibit wide range of colors. Bloom summer to fall.
Exposure: Full sun but will tolerate a bit of shade.
Pruning needs: Prune in spring before growth starts. Prune again after first flowering to promote
a second bloom in fall.
Water needs: Mimulus species prefer moist riparian condition. Diplacus species prefer dry rocky
Monkey flowers are native to Southern Oregon, California, and Baja California. They have narrow, dark green, sticky leaves an inch and a half long.
Las Pilitas Nursery in Santa Margarita, which specializes in growing and propagating California native plants, maintains the distinction between the two genera Mimulus and Diplacus, though Sunset Garden Book only acknowledges the genus Mimulus.
Plants in the Mimulus genus are not very drought tolerant. Some Mimulus species are annuals that appear only when there is a source of constant moisture. They are more herbaceous and often shorter.
Plants in the Diplacus genus like dry rocky slopes. They can grow in almost solid rock with very little moisture. They will often survive drought by going summer deciduous. They grow upright and are woody.
Here are some varieties to seek, plant, and enjoy. The flowers in both genera come in a wide range of colors. Plants which have yellow flowers include Conejo, Topanga, Creeping Monkey, Ramona (which flowers like crazy), Rock (which is light yellow), and Clevelands.
Slender is yellowish-orange and Lompoc is light orange. Light-colored monkey flowers include Southern which is nearly white, Long Flowered which is white, and Agoura Spunky Monkey, cream-colored.
Susana is brick red and Red is, well, red. Scarlet has soft, light green foliage and Mimulus Lewisii is pink, and there are many more.
For gardeners that worry about deer enjoying your plants more than you, deer do not appear to favor these plants.
Leonard Cicerello, UCCE Master Gardener/span>