Nemophila maculata
Common Name: five spot 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Boraginaceae
Native Range: California
Height: 0.50 to 1.00 feet
Spread: 0.50 to 1.00 feet
Bloom Time: April to June
Bloom Description: White with single purple petal spots
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Annual
Flower: Showy


Grow in loose, acidic, fertile, 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. Plants are intolerant of dry soils and drought. In cool summer climates, seed may be sewn 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. Plants do not transplant well.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Nemophilia maculata, commonly called five spot, is a cool weather annual that is native to grasslands and woodlands in California. Upward facing, cup-shaped, 5-petaled, white flowers (each to 1.75” diameter) on stalks rising above the foliage have a distinctive, single, rounded purple spot at the tip of each petal, hence the common name. In St. Louis, plants bloom profusely in cool spring weather until June when they decline rapidly and die with the onset of consistently high heat and humidity. Plants typically grow to 6-12" tall and as wide on slender, succulent, procumbent stems clad with 5-9 pinnate leaves (each to 1 1/4" long).

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 comes from the Latin word maculosus (spotted) in reference to the purple petal spots.


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


Borders and rock gardens. Interesting plant for edging. Mass into large drifts. Good selection for pots and hanging baskets.