Some flowers are so finicky. They need just the right amount of sun, perfect temperatures and additional nutrients. There is a flower, an heirloom wildflower to be specific, that is an easy-going addition to the garden and can be sowed virtually everywhere in the United States. We’re talking five-spot wildflower plants (Nemophila maculata). Let’s see what kind of Nemophila plant facts and history of five-spot wildflowers we can dig up.
History of Five-Spot Wildflowers
Five-spot wildflower plants are native to California and are a species of flowering plant in the borage family, Boraginaceae. Fields of these heirloom wildflowers can be commonly seen in the Sierra Nevada’s, Sacramento Valley and the California Coast Ranges in the San Francisco Bay area. They are a common sight amidst valley grasslands, foothill woodlands and upon pine and fir forest floors.
Its generic name of Nemophila stems from “nemos,” meaning grove, and “phileo,” meaning love. Grove is most likely incorporated in the name due to five-spot’s love for shaded, wooded habitats while love was thrown in because…I don’t know, but you’re bound to love Nemophila.
Additional Nemophila Plant Facts
Five-spot wildflowers are related to another Nemophila, “Baby Blue Eyes,” which is also a common sight in shaded, wooded areas. Baby blue eyes have a bit smaller, china blue, cup shape but otherwise can be grown much like five-spot.
Five-spot is an annual wildflower that grows easily and rapidly from seed. It is very hardy, blooms abundantly and continuously through the growing season and then dies back in the fall. It has one inch, 5-petaled white blossoms with vibrant purple dots at the tip of each petal – hence, the moniker five-spot – borne off of low growing spring green foliage (4-6 inches).
Five-spot is easy to care for and will grow in almost any soil conditions, although it prefers cool weather; so if you live in a hot climate, be sure to start your wildflower seed in shade. To plant five-spot, simply sprinkle the seed over the soil and then very lightly rake more soil over the seed. Water and keep moist as it germinates.
Soon, you will have a profusion of white blooms dotted with purple eyes traipsing through the plot. Oh, and Nemophila maculata looks amazing and does beautifully in pots, including hanging baskets. Once established, it really needs no further care except to water it every so often.
You can collect seeds for next year and keep them in a cool, dry place or, as is more likely, wait and see what comes up next year. Five-spot readily reseeds itself and unless you want these little beauties elsewhere, will undoubtedly come up in the same place again the following year.
Five-spot makes a beautiful groundcover, too, which can rapidly fill in an area and is especially suited to the understory of naturalized woodland areas. It also makes amazing dried, pressed flowers and would look adorable tumbling out of any repurposed container. It has a certain nostalgic charm which, along with the ease in growing, makes it an heirloom wildflower that you should add to your garden.