Seep Monkeyflower - too many seedlings!

All last summer I enjoyed the seep monkeyflower, Mimulus guttatus, that grows in a shady and permanently wet curve of the creekside road we travel along to get between our ridge and the rest of the world. The blooms are the color of egg yolks, and the leaves are soft and green.

It seems to disappear each winter, so though it can be perennial, I think it's mostly an annual.

I was waiting for the papery translucent pods to ripen, like little lanterns, and then I gathered a dozen or so.

The seeds are very small.

I mixed them with sand, and sowed a seed flat. In a few days, they obligingly germinated.

All of them.

Above is after I had already removed and potted quite a few. I kept on potting them till in the end, the ones left in the flat were tall and scraggly. So I potted them too, then I regretted it.

Still the healthy ones are quite sturdy.

What am I going to do with all these water loving shade loving plants, here on the sunny ridge! - Give them to friends and neighbors with more shade and damp spots, of course!

And I've planted a few in my unprotected front yard. So far, nothing has eaten them. I did give them a spray with deer repellent.

I put them in a shady bed where the Douglas Iris were, that I removed so they wouldn't cross pollinate with the local native ones I'm growing from seed.

I wondered if the wild ones on the creekside road were also sprouting, with this unseasonably warm weather. They are!

To learn more about seep monkey flower, see this Las Pilitas page.

Googling for info also took me to this very interesting and disturbing page (it's a PDF file), where I read about Mimulus guttatus in Europe, where it is an invasive weed:
Pathways of introduction
Mimulus guttatus has been introduced as an ornamental plant (intended introduction). Therefore, garden shops can be considered to have favoured the invasion of Mimulus guttatus in some parts of Europe. The species is now spreading along streams and water courses.
This is a chilling message, indeed. I say, look to your ornamentals. It makes sense to grow ornamentals that would not be able to grow unassisted in your native habitat. Though in these days of climate change, you just don't know what your native habitat will be in a few years.


Anonymous said…
Hi Mouse! What a cutie that Mimulus is! I'll have to see about getting some seeds, I think. I wouldn't worry about it becoming invasive, if that is what you are saying. Our climate is so different than Europe, where they have more rain in summer, unlike us.
As an aside, when I was in NZ, I found that they have some CA natives, like CA poppies, lupine, and quail!, which they frown on (considered invasive, all), as well as some we gasp at like sweet broom and thistle, which they seem to accept. Huh!
It will be interesting to see how well your adult plants do and if they come back on their own, which would be a sign that they may be 'too vigorous' I say let 'em! Sue
Country Mouse said…
Hi SFG - thanks for coming by. I'm not worried about it becoming invasive here, because it's native here and I only see it in its ecological niche, which is not a very large one in our area - not so many permanently damp places. I should have mentioned that where it grows is in a culvert below a towering steep slope that acts as a sponge, and squeezes water out of its mass year round.

But noting its extremely high germination rate, and how surprisingly tolerant it is of a wide range of light, from shade to - well - greenhouse, I can see how it could get out of bounds if conditions are favorable. I think TM has grown some, but I forget how it did in her garden if so - maybe she'll chime in.

I'm going to try planting some where they get more light, but have a lot of access to water - i.e. near a hose spigot I can spritz them with on passing! I'll pass along my results.

However, I do caution readers living in other areas where it might go rampant - you probably want to avoid this plant.
Country Mouse said…
BTW I should mention the page on this plant, which shows it endemic throughout California. It says:
"Mimulus guttatus, a dicot, is an annual or perennial herb (rhizomatous) that is native to California and is also found outside of California, but is confined to North America. [Well not now!] ... usually occurs in wetlands, but occasionally found in non wetlands."
So SFG, you are definitely in its native zone.
That's great advice about planting ornamentals. I am still trying to figure what I can and cannot plant and it annoys me that garden centers still sell invasive species. Bottom line for me is that if I'm not sure about something I either don't plant it at all or plant it in a container - though that won't necessarily stop seed from spreading.

That's why planting natives is so much less hassle!
Town Mouse said…
I had seep monkeyflower grow in my fountain, in moving water. They really do like water. But it was a spectacular plant, and I'll happily take a few off your hands once the fountains are working again -- I'm just not sure I'll want to stick one in the ground, it seems too cruel.
camissonia said…
I had one seep monkeyflower that reseeded to kingdom come last year, but only in the proximity of the mother plant. And then not all the seedlings survived our hot coastal chaparral summer. The blooms are super cute, and much preferred to the non-native filaree, which I'm still desperately trying to weed out!
Country Mouse said…
Yes, life is simpler if you restrict the plant palette to could-be-local natives, Byddi, I agree - but this year I've splashed out a bit in the pool garden, to coin a phrase. I think if they need summer water, they won't be able to survive here unassisted, that's one thing. Weeds - I've got filaree and spurge and popweed and sour grass, and rip gut brome, and oh, lots more. I reckon it's a 20 year job, taming all those beasts. I'd be happy if the mimulus would take over some of those niches, but I know it ain't gonna! Maybe the common madia though. I have high hopes there. Thanks as ever for reading our blog :-)