Sweet, pleasant, and meant to be in the background ― that's always been my take on Nemesia.
Thanks to its undemanding nature, modest stature, upright posture, and lasting small, pastel flowers, this South African annual has long been a popular bedding plant for late winter and early spring. Its main role seems to have been making showier cool-season bloomers look more glamorous by comparison.
But the latest generation of Nemesia is changing that.
The flowers are larger, with blooms approaching the size of snapdragons. As 'Raspberry' and 'Mango' illustrate, colors are also no longer all discretely pastel.
The Angelart series from Fides also has some vivid colors: 'Melon', 'Fruitpunch', and 'Cherry'. The contrast in bicolors has also become more intense; 'Berries & Cream' Sachet from Flower Fields is a striking example.
Any of these hybrids would be a good candidate for a solo performance in a container or a leading role in a color bed. Check them out at your local nursery.
Size: Nemesia vary from 6 to 18 inches in height; the majority of cultivars are in the middle range. Plants are generally narrower than their height, but the Angelart series has a more mounding habit.
Planting: Suitable as an annual everywhere. In Sunset zones 14-24, most varieties can be grown as a short-lived perennial. Plant in full sun. Light afternoon sun is also acceptable and preferable in the desert.
Care: Needs regular watering and not much else. Deadhead regularly to prolong bloom. When flowers start to decline, cut plant back to stimulate new growth. Expect plants to slow down when the weather heats up.