Why do I love diascias so much? Because they grow for me throughout the winter without any fuss, because they come in stunning colors not expected in the winter garden and because they are so carefree (given fertilizing of course).
The picture above was taken last spring after growing so beautifully through the fall and winter. Below is my new diascia (they do not survive the summers here – if they did they would be the ultimate perfect plant!).
This was planted in early December after a long search and a two hour one way drive to Tallahassee. I cannot understand why my nurseries here do not sell this plant although I request it every year. Isn’t she just beautiful? It also comes in many other colors, including white, corals and peaches and various shades of pink.
This variety is diascia ‘Romeo’ pink. I planted this November 18 and applied a foliar fertilizer one month later. This picture was taken January 1. What a response!
There is also a white ‘Romeo’ , the container in front, and there is also a companion plant, ‘Juliet’, which is also white. I’m not sure I can see what the difference is but I have planted both. The tag for ‘Romeo’ indicates its a trailer, but when you compare them, there doesn’t seem to have much of a difference.
A closer relative to diascia is nemesia. When I did a search on yellow colors of diascia, nemesia came up in the results. They are in the same family, Scrophulariacea and their flowers do resemble each other but that’s where the similarities end. Nemesia is a bit fussy with regards to watering; over watering will cause the foliage to turn purple (particularly ‘Sunsatia’ yellow) because of lower levels of phosphorous. They recover once phosphorous levels come back to normal.
Here is ‘Sunsatia’ yellow and ‘Coconut’ in white and yellow. I have grown these varieties for years and have never been disappointed. Both varieties are offered by Proven Winners. They also offer ‘Opal Innocence’ and ‘Bluebird’, but I find these two are not as vigorous or hearty for our winter climate. Nemesias like cool evenings, with warmer daytime temperatures. When night temperatures climb above 75 degrees, I find that they quickly decline.
Growing Diascia and Nemesia
I came upon these two plants quite by accident. I had never heard of either one until I visited a local nursery (when they use to grow them) and decided to give them a try, even though I found them to be pricey for an annual, about $5.00 for a 4 inch pot. It didn’t take long for me to really appreciate how great they are for growing throughout the fall, winter and spring here in the northwest part of Florida. I have travelled to the north in the summer and have not seen these plants used in cooler climes during the summer months so I don’t know who is actually growing these. Both plants like sunny days, and cooler nights, making then perfect for our area this time of year. Diascia can handle temperatures as low as 30 degrees, but nemesia must be protected at 32 degrees. Some of my containers are small enough that I can move them into the garage if there is a hard freeze, others I just simply cover with a sheet. Neither plant needs deadheading. They just continue to grow more spikes of wonderful flowers. They both rebound immediately after hard rain and cold temperatures. I give them a good pruning when plants become woody. I will thin them a little as we approach spring so I can get a great flush of color. At planting I sprinkled into the soil a slow release fertilizer that I supplement with a foliar fertilizer every two weeks. I have never seen these plants not in flower; their energy is amazing!
This past week we had temperatures in the 20’s so I covered all of my diascias and nemesias and they came through without any problems.
Diascias and Nemesias are worth the extra effort to find them and to grow them. They are great companions to other winter plants such as pansies, violas and dianthus.
Do you grow these plants? I’d love to hear from you! Simply click the contact me and let me know of your experiences.