Nemophila is a herbaceous flowering plant of the Aquatic family. Representatives of the genus are highly decorative, for which they are valued by gardeners. This culture grows in South America, often found in Canada, Mexico. In Russia, this plant is called “American forget-me-not” for its piercing blue buds, which outwardly resemble the inflorescences of a popular flower. The genus includes 11 varieties, from which more than 100 different varieties were obtained by breeders.
The inflorescences are solitary, they are a wide open five-petal cup with a diameter of 4–5 cm. At the end of flowering, the nemophila leaves oval seeds dotted with furrows.
This culture is able to grow strongly and form lush carpets in areas, so it is great for decorating large spaces.
In ornamental gardening, three types of nemophila are used. Their characteristics are given below.
Nemophila spotted (from lat. Nemophila maculata). An annual plant 15 – 20 cm high. The bush consists of thin branching creeping slightly rising stems. The leaves are lobed, divided into segments. All parts of the plant are covered with short pile. The flowers are cup-shaped, wide open, white, with purple veins and spots along the edge of the petals. After the plant has faded, fruits remain on it – oval boxes with seeds that give it a decorative effect. Flowering of this species begins in early summer, lasts until mid – late September. Spotted nemophila is resistant to frost, which allows it to successfully winter in central Russia.
Nemophila menziesii A bush 25 cm high. It has creeping branched stems, on which openwork bright green foliage is densely located. The flowers are cup-shaped, 3-4 cm in diameter, and purple in color. The edges of the petals and their central part are white. There are varieties with a different color of buds. Flowering of this variety is observed in the summer.
Nemophila parviflora Annual plant 10 – 20 cm high. Flowers solitary, formed in leaf axils. The shape of the flowers resembles bells. The color of the petals can be white, lavender, purple. Leaves are lobed, with a pair of lateral lobes. The fruit is an achene with oval shriveled seeds inside. Flowering comes in spring. Its duration is 2 months.
A huge variety of varieties of this crop allows you to choose the most suitable for the color and size of the bud, and based on their climatic features of the region. Among the most popular varieties are the following:
“Ladybug” – a plant with large wide-bell-shaped snow-white inflorescences that adorn purple spots.
“Barbara” – a beautiful variety with curly stems covered with pinnately lobed foliage. Inflorescences are bell-shaped, white, with purple spotted patterns.
“Atomaria” – has snow-white buds, in the central part of which there are purple dots.
“Coelestis” – a variety with a height of 10 – 15 cm. Valued for sky-blue buds, the central part of which is blurry white.
“Penny Black” – a spectacular variety with purple, almost black inflorescences, along the edge of the petals of which there is a white border.
“Oculata” – there are purple spots at the base of the white petals.
These photos show the nemophila varieties described above:
Planting seeds in open ground
To obtain nemophila, the seed propagation method is used, and the seeds can be planted immediately on the site, choosing a suitable place for their successful growth, or you can first grow seedlings.
To grow nemophila, it is necessary to plant seeds in open ground when the soil warms up well.
If this is done in mid-April, then flowering can be observed in early summer. If you need to get flowering plants in the fall, then planting nemophila seeds in open ground is best done in July.
For sowing, a small ridge is made with furrows 2–2.5 cm deep. Seeds are evenly distributed in them. After that, the earth is leveled, watered. The distance between the furrows should be 15 cm. In a couple of weeks, the sprouts will hatch. It is necessary to ensure that the soil was constantly moist, but not waterlogged, otherwise young plants will quickly rot.
Sowing nemophila seeds for seedlings is carried out in March or April, depending on when you want to get flowering. Since seeds can be banned when germinating indoors, it is better to keep containers with crops on a balcony or veranda.
For growing seedlings of nemophila, a peat-sand mixture is suitable. Seeds need to be deepened into the substrate by 1 cm at a distance of 5 – 9 cm from each other so that dense plantings do not have to be thinned out.
Watering should be moderate. When carrying out water procedures, it is important to find a middle ground, that is, not to overdo it with watering, which will lead to decay of the seed. It is also impossible to allow the soil to dry out, this is fraught with the fact that the seeds will dry out without having time to develop.
It is recommended to keep crops during germination under film or glass to create conditions close to greenhouse ones.
Seedlings will need bright lighting. From a lack of light, the plants will stretch and weaken, so if necessary, fitolamps should be used. Before planting seedlings on the site, it is hardened for 2 weeks. To do this, the plants are left in the fresh air, first for 20 minutes a day, then the residence time is increased and gradually adjusted to 24 hours.
Nemophila seedlings are transplanted into open ground on a warm, fine day. Since the seedlings of this crop are not susceptible to spring frosts, they can be planted on the site both in March and in April.
Holes are made for seedlings at a distance of 30 cm. It is necessary to place the seedling in the planting hole so that the root neck is at the level of the soil. You can’t deepen it. After planting, the soil around the plants is compacted and watered.
Features of care
With proper planting, caring for a nemophila is not difficult, but it requires compliance with the basic rules of agricultural technology.
- Location. In order to get a healthy plant that will delight you with lush flowering, it is important to choose the right place for it. Nemophila prefers to grow in partial shade. Bright diffused light should constantly fall on it. Direct sunlight will destroy the flower, and with full shading it will bloom poorly. The plants themselves, with a lack of light, will stretch, weaken, the foliage grinds.
- The soil. Nemophila does not impose special requirements on the composition of the soil; it can grow both in fertile and poor areas. The main requirement of this culture is looseness and drainage of the substrate. As for acidity indicators, the soil should be slightly acidic or have a neutral acidity.
- Watering. The American forget-me-not cannot grow in hot and dry conditions, so it is important to properly organize the irrigation system when growing it. The soil should always be slightly damp. It must not be allowed to dry completely. To do this, you need to mulch the areas around the bushes using sawdust, forest moss or peat chips. In extreme heat, plants should be watered in the evening. With a lack of moisture, the flowers will quickly wither and dry.
Experienced gardeners, knowing the characteristics of the American forget-me-not, spray the plant with a spray bottle in the morning or after the intense heat subsides.
- topdressing. In order for the flowering to be plentiful, and the foliage bright and lush, top dressing must be applied at least three times throughout the entire growing season. The first – a couple of weeks after planting seedlings in the ground, the second – during the formation of buds, the third – during flowering. For this culture, any mineral complex for flowering plants is suitable. The soil will need to be enriched before flowering ends.
- Other activities. In order for weeds not to take away nutrients from the flower, it is necessary to remove them in a timely manner. To saturate the roots with oxygen, after watering, areas near the plants are loosened. In order for the nemophila bushes to look neat, formative pruning is carried out. In addition, after this procedure, the plant actively begins to form new branches, which contributes to lush flowering.
- Fight against diseases and pests. Nemophila is resistant to most diseases. Harmful insects also rarely attack this crop. However, sometimes the gardener faces some problems when breeding American forget-me-nots. Most often, diseases are provoked by improper care: a long absence of watering, or, conversely, a constant excess of moisture in the soil.
Among the insect pests that can settle on the plant, aphids, spider mites, snails, and whiteflies are distinguished. Having found harmful insects, it is necessary to immediately treat the bushes with insecticides. For this purpose, the drug “Aktara”, “Iskra” or “Aktelik” is suitable. Re-treatment in order to destroy the remaining insect larvae will need to be carried out after 7 to 10 days.
With slugs and snails, a solution of wood ash will help to cope. To prevent the gastropods from reappearing on the site, you need to set up traps for them, which are filled with sweet water, syrup or beer.
If the flower is affected by gray rot caused by high humidity, you need to review the irrigation system and adjust it. To resuscitate the plant, use fungicides. Before processing, cut off the affected parts.
Application in the garden
American forget-me-not is a bright spectacular and at the same time unpretentious flower to care for. Knowing about the excellent characteristics, gardeners often use it to decorate the site. It is used to create colorful islands in empty areas, to decorate flower beds. This plant can be successfully grown in pots and containers.
These photos show what a nemophila looks like in a flower bed surrounded by other flowers:
Nemophila also serves to decorate ridges, rock gardens, borders. Suitable companions for the American forget-me-not will be verbena, petunias, fragrant tobacco, bluebells, iberis, petunias and other low bright plants.
Compositions with nemophiles look impressive. A bright carpet in the garden, consisting of different varieties of this crop, looks very nice. This plant is distinguished by its versatility and ability to fit into any color scheme.