Thursday, September 10, 2009

Plant of the Week: Scarlet Monardella

What a joy it is for my snobby native gardening sensibilities to discover a plant I've never seen before! I came across this stunner when cruising the nursery and absolutely had to have it! Unfortunately, as I'm researching its care, I'm realizing why I probably hadn't heard of it earlier: Monardella macrantha 'Marian Sampson' is difficult. Las Pilitas says 2 out of 3 will survive transplanting if you're lucky (they're the experts, and they still lost one?). And its part shade requirements don't quite mesh with the full blast of heat in my front yard.
Be that as it may, did you see those flowers?! Hummingbird magnet, right? Sometimes you just have to be an idealist and be willing to take some chances.

Soil: Well, well drained. They must have good drainage and give 'em a mulch of gravel
Sun: They thrive under afternoon shade. Since they're low growing, perhaps shelter them under a large tree or shrub
Plant: I'd say plant in mild weather. I'll wait until the heat wave is over, but I don't think I'd plant in the middle of the rainy season either. They might take more water than most natives, too so pay some extra attention to it when its getting established.
Buy it: I bought mine at a wholesale nursery, so just ask your local nursery if they can find you one. Looks like Yerba Buena Nursery also carries them from time to time.
Good for: a burst of color and a hummingbird oasis. These can help add some color to the summer brown season and will fill in some blank spots between larger plants.

So, wish me luck on getting some survivors out of this and if you're more interested, I found this link to be particularly helpful. Any advice in the comments would be showered with gratefulness!


  1. We've had one in a pot for a couple of years now. It's nice. It seems to like fast drainage but also more water than I expected, perhaps because we have gravel at the bottom of the container. It acts a fair bit like M. villosa if you've ever grown that before. I've only grown a single plant in a pot, so all of what I say should be taken with a grain of salt.

  2. It does seem like an oxymoron that it needs well-drained soil and wants lots of water, doesn't it? Thanks for the input! I think any gardening advice should be taken with a grain of salt, personally!