A group of attractive, free-flowering, half-hardy annuals that provide a colourful display in any sunny garden. Popular as summer bedding in both borders and containers.
Family: Scrophulariaceae (Figwort family)
Botanical Name: Nemesia
Common Names: Cape Jewels
Foliage: Simple, lance-shaped, light-green leaves.
Flowers: Clusters of open-faced, dual-lipped, blooms with short throats. Flowers freely in a range of bright colours.
Flowering Period: June-September.
Soil: Moist but well-drained, fertile soil (sand or loam). Any pH. Avoid waterlogged conditions.
Conditions: Full sun or part shade. Best grown in a west or south facing aspect, in a sheltered location.
Habit: Bushy, spreading.
Type: Half-hardy Annual.
Origin: Southern Africa.
Hardiness: Tender in the UK. Protect from frost.
Grow in any light and well-drained, moderately fertile soil or compost that is slightly acid.
They can be grown from seed, although it is much easier to buy plants from a garden centre or nursery, in spring.
Plant out in flowering positions in early summer. Site in an open, sunny position for best show of flowers, although Nemesia will tollerate some light shade. Do not plant outside until all danger of frost has passed in your area.
Ideal planted in large groups, for formal and mixed borders and containers. They also provide a useful filler in the rock garden, raised bed or a dry wall.
Cut flowers last well in water.
Water regularly during dry weather and water container grown plants daily. Keep the soil moist at all times but not waterlogged.
To improve flowering, apply an all-purpose flowering plant food (slightly higher in phosphorus and potassium) every few weeks, or use a slow release form. Do not over fertilize.
Once the initial flowering has finished trim back the stems to encourage a second flush. You can also direct sow or plant out a second indoor sowing to provide a more continuous colour display.
Pull up and discard plants to the compost heap, once flowering has finished in the autumn.
Susceptible to attack by Aphids. Can be affected by foot-rot or root-rot.
Sow seed around mid-March in a cool greenhouse or propagator at 15°C (60°F). Prick out, pot on and harden-off, ready for planting out in late May or early June.
In mild regions, seed can be direct-sown outdoors in April or May. Nemesia are quick to flower from from seed but the flowering season can short lived in hot summers. Therefore a second outdoor sowing can be beneficial.
The tips of young plants can pinched-out after planting to make them more bushy.
Stores and garden centres sell nemesia in trays or as single pot-plants in early spring and summer. Available in a wide a range of colours including white, blue, yellow, orange, bronze, scarlet, purple, pink and cream. Many varieties are bi-colour or tricolour, with attractively blotched and spotted flowers.
Nemesia cheiranthus (long-eared nemesia) is a short bushy plant with exotic looking flowers, where long petals are swept back at the top. Height to 12in (30cm). Variety 'Shooting Stars' has flowers in dazzling yellow and white, with a delightful coconut fragrance. Blooms over a long period. For sale at Thompson & Morgan.
Nemesia Nesia™ Series have been bred for larger blooms and a more compact habit, which flowers almost continuously throughout summer. The cultivar 'Fantasy Pink' is pretty form with large, bicolour flowers . For sale at Thompson & Morgan.
Nemesia Rhubarb and Custard procuces delightful deep-violet and gold two-tone, sweetly scented flowers, from early summer until November. For sale at You Garden.
Nemesia 'Seventh Heaven' is an eye-catching, bicoloured variety with sweetly perfumed blooms that are larger than traditional varieties. For sale at Thompson & Morgan.
Nemesia strumosa is the parent of several good garden varieties and hybrids. Bushy upright plants. Height 8-18in (20-45cm), spread 6-8in (15-20cm). The cultivar 'Tapestry' produces a rich tapestry of colours in a very wide range. For sale at Thompson & Morgan.
Nemesia 'Tapestry Mixed' produce bushy upright plants that are clothed in masses of colourful blooms, all summer. Ideal for borders, pots, window boxes and baskets. Height 10in (25cm), spread 6in (15cm). For sale at Van Meuwen.