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The Incredible Story of the Nemophila Flower

Nemophila is a genus of small, spring-blooming annual flowers that have become widely appreciated for their delicate beauty. The genus is part of the Boraginaceae family and its members are commonly known as baby blue eyes, five-spot, kitten whiskers, and forget-me-nots, among other names. These gorgeous wildflowers make a stunning addition to any garden, but their story is as captivating as their appearance.

Nemophila was first described by Swedish botanist, Carl von Linne in 1753, though its origins likely began thousands of years ago on the vast grassy plains of North America. From here, the plant gradually made its way to Europe and eventually it was cultivated in the 17th century where it rapidly became popular amongst many gardeners. Though the genus is native to North America, it has been introduced successfully to other areas of the world including parts of Asia, Australia, and New Zealand.

Parts of the Flower

Despite its common name of “five-spot”, the Nemophila flower actually features six petals, which are characterized by a dainty and star-like appearance. The petals, along with the three to five green sepals, come together to form a cheerful saucer-shaped bloom. Additionally, each petal is dotted with a hue of either brilliant white, deep blue, or purple and is accented with a small black spot in the center.

Each Nemophila flower measures about one inch across and grows atop attractive foliage. Like the bloom itself, the leaves are quite small and feature two oblong shaped leaflets. The stems are slender and elongated, as is typical for many wildflowers.

Gardening with Nemophila Flowers

Due to its close relation to plants such as borage and forget-me-nots, Nemophila is a popular choice for many cottage-style gardens. The flowers come in various shades of blue, white, and purple and can be planted yearly in zones 3-9. These annual plants typically bloom in late spring or early summer, but they can also bloom in the fall when planted late in the season.

Nemophila has a short lifespan and tends to have difficulty surviving in areas that have high temperatures. Therefore, it is important that sunny locations where the flowers will not be overexposed be selected. These shrubs have been known to withstand temperatures as low as -10°F.

Nemophila two

Planting Nemophila

The best time to plant nemophila is in early spring before the last frost. For optimal growth, the flowers should be planted in a well-draining soil and watered on a regular basis. Fertilizing the plant is recommended and leaves should be removed from the stems whenever necessary. Additionally, if mulch is used in the garden, it is best to avoid using it for the nemophila plants, as the mulch can cause rot and disease.

Varieties of Nemophila

There are a few species within the Nemophila genus, though some could arguably be argued as subspecies. Specifically, the genus features species like the Nemophila Menziesii, which is the most commonly cultivated species and boasts bright sky-blue petals. Furthermore, this is the species most frequently used in bouquets and other floral arrangements.

On the other hand, there is the Nemophila Maculata, which is typically associated with the name “five-spot”. As it name suggests, these petals each feature five smaller white petals set against a dark blue or purple backdrop. This variety is ideal for use as a groundcover and is particularly popular amongst cottage-style landscape initiatives.


Nemophila is a genus of beautiful and delicate wildflowers that have become increasingly popular in recent years. Its species can be found growing in various climates across the world and make a stunning addition to any garden. Though the flowers’ blooming season is short, their subtle appearance can bring a lot of charm to a garden year-round. From the Nemophila Maculata to the Nemophila Menziesii, each variety is sure to bring color and elegance to any landscape.

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