Mimulus ‘Burgundy’ and ‘Sunset’

By: Bart O’Brien

Bart O’Brien is one of Southern California’s most highly respected native plant specialists and co-author with David Fross and Carol…

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Mimulus ‘Burgundy’ Author’s photographs

Mimulus ‘Burgundy’ Author’s photographs

Here it is 2006, and Pacific Plant Promotions is now able to offer the second pair of named monkeyflower hybrids that was originally planned for 2004: Mimulus ‘Burgundy’ and M. ‘Sunset’. These beautiful California native plants surf that rich, distinctively mediterranean borderline between the typical gardening categories of shrubs and perennials—the incredibly useful (but dreadfully named) subshrubs. This class of plants includes such native delights as our sages (Salvia), wild buckwheats (Eriogonum), blue witches (Solanum), and California fuchsias (Zauschneria), as well as durable exotics like laven-ders (Lavandula), and sunroses (Helianthemum). Not surprisingly, these mediterranean climate plants are suitable companions for monkeyflowers.

Mimulus ‘Sunset’ has especially large showy flowers that are a complex smoky blend of orange and peach with pink and white undertones. The color varies tremendously with the age of the individual flower. In youth, individual blossoms are rich and vibrant; their colors mellow and soften with age. When grown in full hot sun, the flowers often do not display the subtle pastel quality that is so characteristic of this selection. These are flowers for prolonged viewing or meditation.

Mimulus‘Burgundy’ has lively deep reddish violet flowers and a distinctively upright growth habit. There is no subtlety about this plant: it is a bold statement in the garden and always attracts attention. For a period of time, this clone was incorrectly identified and sold as ‘Pink Cloud’ (a valid name for a completely different plant with large pale pink flowers), though most growers have since corrected the name.

These two vigorous selections are best grown in full sun near the coast and in partial shade in warmer inland or southern gardens. As is typical for the shrubby monkeyflowers, they should be pinched lightly and frequently to promote a full, dense growth habit that will better support the showy but heavy flowers. Plants are brittle and should be carefully placed in the garden to avoid mishaps with errant pets, hoses, toys, newspapers, or children. As with all favored selections of shrubby monkey-flowers, it is a good idea to grow a backup supply of cutting-grown plants. Cuttings taken from terminal, green to semi-hard, vegetative shoots root best. Flowers that develop while the cuttings are rooting should be removed as soon as they are noted in order to focus the plants’ resources on root development. These may be used as replacements for damaged or dead plants, or as gifts to gardening friends that covet your specimens. For more horticultural information, see the PPP article in the July 2003 issue of Pacific Horticulture.

Both of these shrubby monkeyflowers were part of Tree of Life Nursery’s Capistrano Collection (the nursery’s collective name for their Verity hybrid selections), which were selected and named by nursery owners Jeff Bohn and Mike Evans about 1988. After a few years of commercial sales their large scale production was abandoned due to a combination of disease and shipping problems. With the establishment of retail sales at Tree of Life Nursery, some of these plants are again being grown, though in limited quantities strictly for retail sales at the nursery. Few of the twenty or so original selections remain in gardens, but these two are proven survivors and deserve a featured place in California gardens.

Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden will be offering plants of both monkeyflowers as a package. To order them, see the Pacific Plant Promotions reservation card for details. Young, rooted, cutting-grown plants in two-inch pots will be shipped in October and November, 2006.

Mimulus ‘Sunset’

Mimulus ‘Sunset’

For Further Reading

Connelly, Kevin. 1993. Monkeyflowers in the Garden. Pacific Horticulture 54(3):30.

O’Brien, Bart. 2003. PPP Offerings for Fall 2003: Mimulus ‘Valentine’ & Mimulus ‘Verity White’. Pacific Horticulture 64(3):6-8.

Thompson, David. 1997. The Genus Mimulus. In: Symposium Proceedings; Out of the Wild and Into the Garden I, California’s Horticulturally Significant Plants. April 30 -May 2, 1992. Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden Occasional Publications 1:112-125.

Verity, David. 1997. Horticultural Improvement of Diplacus through Selective Breeding. In: Symposium Proceedings; Out of the Wild and Into the Garden I, California’s Horticulturally Significant Plants. April 30 -May 2, 1992. Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden Occasional Publications 1:126-128.

Verity, David. 1993. Breeding Hybrid Monkeyflowers. Pacific Horticulture 54(3):26-30.