Nemophila menziesii

Common Name: baby blue eyes 
Type: Annual
Family: Boraginaceae
Native Range: California
Zone: 2 to 11
Height: 0.25 to 0.50 feet
Spread: 0.50 to 1.00 feet
Bloom Time: May to June
Bloom Description: Blue
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Annual
Flower: Showy

Culture

Grow in loose, acidic, organically rich, evenly moist, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Part afternoon shade is best in hot summer climates. This is a cool weather annual that grows best in cool summer climates where nighttime temperatures consistently dip below 65 degrees F. In cool summer climates, seed may be sown directly in the garden in spring for bloom from summer to frost. In hot summer climates with cold winters (e.g., St. Louis), sow seed indoors 6-8 weeks before last spring frost date for bloom from spring until the heat of summer arrives. In hot climates with mild winters (USDA Zones 8-10), sow seed in late summer and late fall for winter to spring bloom. Plants will self seed in the garden in optimum conditions.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Nemophila menziesii, commonly called baby blue eyes, grows to 6” tall and spreads to 12” wide on slender, procumbent, succulent stems clad with pinnately lobed gray-green leaves (to 2” long). Upward facing, cup-shaped, 5-lobed, blue flowers (to 1.5” wide) with light blue to white centers bloom profusely in cool weather. In St. Louis, plants typically bloom from spring until June when they decline rapidly and die with the onset of consistently high heat and humidity. This plant is native to grasslands and woodlands in the western U.S.

Genus name comes from the Greek words nemos meaning wooded pasture or glade and phileo meaning to love in reference to the habitat of some species.

Specific epithet honors Archibald Menzies (1754-1842), Scottish botanist, plant collector and surgeon, who accompanied George Vancouver aboard HMS Discovery in a world voyage in the 1790s that in part explored the Pacific Northwest.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems. Watch for aphids. Powdery and downy mildew may occur. Plants decline sharply in consistently hot and humid weather.

Garden Uses

Borders and rock gardens. Interesting plant for edging. Will cascade from containers.