By Jackie Carroll
Monkey flowers, with their irresistible little “faces,” provide a long season of color and charm in moist or wet parts of the landscape. The blossoms last from spring until fall, and thrive in wet areas, including marshes, stream banks and wet meadows. They also grow well in flower borders as long as you keep the soil moist.
Facts About the Monkey Flower
Monkey flowers (Mimulus ringens) are native North American wildflowers that thrive in U.S. Department of Agriculture zones 3 through 9. The 1 ½-inch flowers have an upper petal with two lobes and a lower petal with three lobes. The blossoms are often spotted and multicolored, and the overall appearance resembles a monkey’s face. Taking care of monkey flowers is easy as long as they get plenty of moisture. They thrive in full sun or partial shade.
In addition, the monkey flower plant is an important larval host for Baltimore and Common Buckeye butterflies. These lovely butterflies lay their eggs on the foliage, which provides an immediate food source once the caterpillars hatch.
How to Grow Monkey Flower
If you want to start your seeds indoors, plant them about 10 weeks before the last spring frost and place them in clear plastic bags in the refrigerator to chill. Outdoors, plant them in late winter and let cold winter temperatures chill the seeds for you. The seeds need light to germinate, so don’t cover them with soil.
When you bring the seed trays out of the refrigerator, place them in a location with temperatures between 70 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit and provide plenty of bright light. Remove the seed trays from the bag as soon as the seeds germinate.
Space monkey flower plants according to the size of the plant. Space the small varieties 6 to 8 inches apart, medium-sized types 12 to 24 inches apart, and large types 24 to 36 inches apart.
Growing monkey flower in hot climates is a challenge. If you want to give it a try, plant it in a location that is shaded most of the afternoon.
Care of Monkey Flowers
Monkey flower plant care is actually quite minimal. Keep the soil moist at all times. A 2- to 4-inch layer of mulch will help prevent moisture evaporation. This is especially important in warmer regions.
Pick off the faded blossoms to encourage a fresh flush of flowers.
In terms of how to grow monkey flower and care for it once established, that’s all there is to it!