A group of pretty, trailing or low-spreading, free-flowering hardy annuals. Suitable for containers, hanging baskets or as a border edging plant.
Family: Hydrophyllaceae (waterleaf family)
Botanical Name: Nemophila
Common Names: Baby blue-eyes, Californian Bluebell.
Foliage: Deeply divided (feathery) mid-green leaves.
Flowers: Wide, flat, buttercup-like flowers, usually sky-blue with fuzzy white centres. White forms are also available, often with spots of a different colour.
Flowering Period: June to September
Soil: Moisture-retentive, reasonably fertile, light soil (chalk, sand or loam). Acid, alkaline or neutral pH.
Conditions: Sun or light shade. Plant in an east, west or south facing aspect.
Habit: Spreading, low growing.
Type: Hardy Annual.
Origin: Western USA
Hardiness: Hardy throughout the UK (usually dies after flowering at the end of the season).
Easy to grow from seed. Grow in moist but well drained soil, in sun or partial shade. Dislikes very hot, dry conditions.
Ideal for the edge of the border or in a cool moist spot in the rockery. Also useful in pots and containers.
Not suitable as cut flowers as the blooms fade quickly when picked.
Keep the soil moist and weed free but not waterlogged.
Trim back after flowering to encourage a second flush. Pull up and discard plants to the compost heap, once the flowering season has finished.
Can be affected by Aphids.
Should be sown where it is to flower as it dislikes root disturbance.
Prepare the ground well and dig in plenty of organic matter before sowing. Sow seeds from March to May, covering lightly with fine soil. Gradually thin to 6in (15cm). Make 2 or 3 three sowings for successive flowering.
Alternatively, sow in September for an early show the next year, and protect with cloches over-winter.
Nemophila menziesii (baby blue-eyes) large sky blue flowers with a white centre. Height 6in (15cm), spread 6-10in (15-25cm). Variety 'Pennie Black' bears deep purple to black flowers with a scalloped silvery-white edge. Height: 12-15in (30-38cm). Seed for sale at Thompson & Morgan.
Nemophila maculata 'Five Spot' a compact annual that produces an abundance of white flowers with a dark blue spot at the end of each petal. Height 6in (15cm), spread 6-10in (15-25cm). Seed available from Mr Fothergill's.