Nemesia Planting and Growing Guide: How To ID, Care for Nemesia Flowers

Georgette Kilgore headshot, wearing 8 Billion Trees shirt with forest in the background.Written by Georgette Kilgore

Gardening | March 12, 2024

Woman holding a container of nemesia flowers after learning how to plant nemesia from seeds, where to grow nemesia varieties, and care tips for landscaping with nemesia.

The Nemesia plant is a popular annual flower and tender perennial that produces an abundance of colorful and snapdragon-like blossoms when temperatures are mild.

Native to South Africa, these pretty little flowers were once mainstays of cottage gardens.

Over time, however, they fell out of favor in warm climates due to their preference for cooler temperatures. However, through selective breeding, several new heat-tolerant varieties have been introduced, making it easy to add these gorgeously delicate and stunning flowers to your outdoor landscaping projects.

Nemesia flowers can bloom all summer long into fall, expanding their usefulness in gardens throughout North America.

Of course, you can also plant various types of Nemesia indoors. This complete guide explains everything you need to know about growing these gems, and how to identify them by their colors, petals and leaf shapes.

Planting Tips for Nemesia

To ensure success with Nemesia plants, you need to provide them with appropriate growing conditions and care.

This means planting them in organically enriched, well-drained soil in a sunny spot with afternoon shade in hot climates.

Graphic of planting tips for Nemesia showing a flowering Nemesia on the right and a list of how to plant Nemesia from a seed.

You should also give seedlings and transplants adequate water while being careful to avoid soggy soil.

Once they begin to flower, Nemesia plants require occasional fertilization. You will also need to regularly prune back wayward stems to prolong blooms.

Here are some additional planting tips for Nemesia flowers:

When To Plant Nemesia

If you’re trying to determine when to plant Nemesia in your area, focus on the possibility of frost. Once you’re sure this threat has passed, you should plant during the cool weather of spring, setting out nursery-grown transplants well before the heat of summer.

Where To Plant Nemesia

When deciding where to plant Nemesia plants, choose a site with full sun to light afternoon shade and fertile, evenly moist soil. Excellent drainage is the key to avoiding fungal issues.

With this in mind, amend heavy clay soils before planting.

Some good spots for Nemesia? These include raised garden beds, rock gardens, cottage gardens, and along walkways and entrances.

Use trailing varieties in containers and hanging baskets. Whatever the case, you should take steps to protect your plants from wind exposure.

Nemesia Growing Zone

Growing zones for Nemesia can vary somewhat depending on whether they’re cultivated as annuals or perennials. Nemesias growing zones are 9 to 11 in their native South Africa, where they grow naturally as short-lived perennials.

Elsewhere, they are cultivated as annuals or possibly tender perennials.

Closeup of a Nemesia plant with clusters of small fiery orange flowers surrounded by green foliage of other plants in a garden.

Image by Etienne-F5911

Most areas treat them as cool-season annuals, planting out nursery-grown transplants after any danger of spring frost has passed. In zones 8 to 11, Nemesia may grow as perennials if thoroughly mulched for winter protection.

Nemesia Growth Rate

The Nemesia growth rate is rapid once seeds have germinated or transplants have become well established. Expect upright varieties to reach 6 to 18 inches tall and 8 to 16 inches wide within a couple of months of sowing seeds.

Trailing types are slower to get going but may spread 2 to 3 feet wide by flowering time. Flower production is heaviest when temperatures are mild.

Hot and humid conditions slow growth considerably.

When To Plant Nemesia for the Best Yield

When determining when to plant Nemesia for the best yield, you want to target cooler times of the year. For prolific flowering, it’s best to plant during the spring or early summer, when there’s no threat of frost or intense heat.

To get a jumpstart, you can plant seeds indoors 6 to 8 weeks earlier.4 Bear in mind that Nemesia plants grow well when planted in late summer or early fall in hotter climates when intense summer heat begins to die down.

You can also get year-round production by growing Nemesia in pots and keeping the pants indoors.

Growing a Nemesia From a Seed

While nurseries sell Nemesia transplants, you can also grow these charming flowers from seeds. When growing a Nemesia from a seed, you want to sow in a sterile starting mix.

Gently press the small seeds down into the soil without covering them. Keep the soil evenly moist and in bright light at around 65 degrees until you see sprouting.

Then, transplant the sprouts into your home garden bed or container when temperatures reach at least 60 degrees F during the day and 50 degrees F at night. Generally, it’s best to harden off your plants before transplanting them into front and backyard garden beds after any danger of frost has passed.3

Best Growing Conditions for Nemesia

The best growing conditions for Nemesia involve organically enriched, well-drained soil. Soggy, water-logged soil will cause root rot, so be sure your garden drains well without any pooling.

These plants enjoy lightly shaded afternoon exposure when summers are hot. They also generally need cooler temperatures, which is why they do so well in the spring and fall.

Companion Plants For Growing Nemesia

Some great companion plants for growing Nemesia include other cool-weather annuals like pansies, violas, and snapdragons. You can also combine trailing Nemesias plants with ivy geraniums, calibrachoa, trailing lobelia, or sweet alyssum.

Use compact, mounded types alongside petunias, verbena, dianthus, and African daisies. Nemesia flowers also pair beautifully with spring bulbs like tulips, daffodils, and hyacinths.

Whatever companions you choose, be sure to leave several inches between each plant to promote good air circulation and reduce the risk of disease.


(Nemesia spp.)

Nemesia Flower clusters in oval frame on green background.
  • Characteristics: Nemesia is characterized by its bushy, compact growth, lance-shaped leaves, and vibrant two-lipped tubular flowers in a wide range of colors.
  • Family: Scrophulariaceae
  • Genus: Nemesia
  • Leaf: Lance-shaped, sometimes toothed, green leaves in pairs on four-sided stems
  • Seed: Very small seeds
  • Blossoms: Two-lipped tubular flowers in short terminal racemes with a pouch or pinched spur at the base. Colors include cream, yellow, orange, pink, red, brown, blue, purple, white, and bi-color.
  • Native Habitat: Native to southern Africa, especially coastal regions.
  • Height: 6 to 18 inches
  • Canopy: 6 to 12 inches
  • Type: Annual, tender perennial
  • Native Growing Zone: Zones 2-11 as annuals; zones 9-11 as perennials

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species Ranking

Least Concern


How To Identify Nemesia (Nemesia Plant)

When considering how to identify Nemesia, start by looking at the flowers. It’s generally easy to ID these plants by their small snapdragon-esque flowers with two upper lobes and three lower lobes, including a protruding spur or pouch on the lowest petal.

Graphics showing how to identify nemesia with images of green nemesia leaves, a cluster of pink nemesia flower. and a bunch of nemesia seeds inside circle frames.

(Leaves Image: herbert25129 and Flowers Image: Katrina Wright8)

The blossoms appear in terminal racemes above narrow green leaves. Plants are bushy or trailing in habit.

Nemesia flowers are at their peak bloom when temperatures are mild, making them a hallmark of the spring garden. During hot weather, they tend to fade or go dormant.

Nemesia Flowers

Nemesia flowers have an exotic orchid-like appearance. Their five-lobed tubular shape includes an upper pair of lobes forming a hood over the larger lower three lobes.

The lowest lobe features a swollen pouch or spur, adding to its distinctiveness. Nemesia blossoms appear in loose clusters at the stem tips, exhibiting diverse colors.

Expect Nemesia flowers to bloom in abundance when daytime highs average 60-70 degrees F.

Nemesia Leaves

Nemesia leaves are simple, with an oppositely arranged lance shape. Leaf margins are most often entire but may be slightly toothed in some instances.

The medium green leaves provide an attractive backdrop to the multitude of colorful flowers. Foliage tends to look its best in cool temperatures; during hot spells, leaves can yellow and scorch around the edges.

Nemesia Seeds

Nemesia seeds are tiny and dust-like, similar to begonia or snapdragon seeds. When growing Nemesia from seed, it’s best to press them into the soil surface instead of covering them with dirt.

Seedlings should sprout in 7 to 14 days when kept warm. Many older, non-hybrid Nemesias grow well from seed, but hybrids must be propagated from tip cuttings to preserve flower traits.

How To Care for Nemesia

When considering how to care for Nemesia, turn your attention to the basics. Like any plant, these varieties need enriched soil, adequate sunlight, moderate moisture, and proper planting times.

You’ll also want to provide a little fertilizer and judiciously pinch off wayward stems.

How To Water Nemesia

To determine how to water Nemesia, you must weigh the possibility of root rot. These plants appreciate evenly moist soil and loathe soggy conditions.

Water them thoroughly after planting and whenever the top inch of soil becomes dry. But avoid overwatering, which fuels rot, and underwatering, which causes wilting.

It’s best to apply water directly to the soil levels rather than from overhead. Adding organic mulch helps conserve moisture while insulating roots.

Above all else, don’t overestimate the watering needs for Nemesia plants, or you could promote root rot. You should also be sure your containers and beds offer adequate drainage to prevent waterlogged conditions.

Should You Fertilize Nemesia?

Nemesia will generally thrive in organically enriched soil as long as the plants have adequate light and water. But should you fertilize Nemesia to spur faster growth?

In many cases, this can be helpful as long as you don’t overdo it.

At planting time, work some slow-release fertilizer or compost into beds and potting mixes. Once you see blooms, give container plants some liquid plant food every 2 to 3 weeks.

For in-ground plantings, side dress with granular fertilizer or finished compost midway through the growing season. Any balanced, water-soluble formula will help stimulate flowering and keep plants looking lush.

How To Prune Nemesia

When considering how to prune Nemesia, you should do your best to keep plants neat and promote new growth. Deadheading individual spent Nemesia blossoms is rarely necessary since the plants continually produce new flowers that hide old ones.

Prune back any damaged stems or disproportionately long branches. You can also cut established plants back by a third to half in midsummer to spur new leaves and blooms.

For winter care, prune any perennial varieties back to just above the crown once they become dormant.

Overwintering Tender Perennial Nemesia

While most types are grown as annuals, some tender perennial Nemesia plants can be overwintered indoors or outdoors in sheltered areas. This allows them to return for a second or third year.

With a bit of advanced planning and preparation, it is possible to nurture these plants through the winter if you have the time to give them the attention they need.

How To Stop Nemesia Disease

When considering how to stop Nemesia disease, you want to focus on prevention. The main issue with these plants is stem or root rot caused by overly moist soils.

Overwatering can also invite common pests of the Nemesia, such as powdery mildew, aphids, and thrips.5

Improve drainage by amending heavy clay soils with compost. Allow the top inch of soil to dry between waterings and space out plants for adequate air circulation.

Fungal leaf spots may occur from time to time, but these don’t seriously harm plants.

The most effective Nemesia disease prevention centers on avoiding overwatering and pruning any affected leaves. This sort of natural pest control for Nemesia creates a healthy environment that’s ill-suited for fungus and other disease-causing invaders.

Bear in mind that leaf curling or downward cupping isn’t generally a sign of disease. In most cases, this occurs due to infrequent watering.

If you notice curling or cupping, boost watering frequency to keep soil evenly moist but not waterlogged. Curling leaves may also result from excess afternoon heat or intense sunlight.

In this case, you can try filtering the harsh afternoon sun or moving containers to a shadier patio location.

During times of heat stress, you will often see flowers drop off before fully opening. This occurs because the buds dry out from hot air before they finish developing.

If this happens, monitor soil conditions closely and water more often to keep the plants hydrated.

Popular Types of Nemesia

There are 60 species of Nemesia in South Africa, many of which have been cultivated as ornamentals.1

Graphic showing some of the most popular types of Nemesia flowers, with images of red and white Cape Jewels, Pink Nemesia, White Nemesia, and Blue Nemesia inside flower-shaped frames.

Some of the most popular types include:

Nemesia Strumosa: Cape Jewels

Commonly called Cape Jewels, Nemesia Strumosa is an annual species with blue and white flowers and narrow green leaves. Typically growing 6 to 12 inches tall and wide, the plant is one of the two most popular Nemesia species grown from seed by home gardeners.

Valued for its cold hardiness, N. Strumosa yields profuse blooms that come in shades of light blue, dark blue, purple blue, and white.

Pink Nemesia

Many Nemesia varieties produce pink flowers in various shades, from soft baby pink to vibrant magenta. Popular pink Nemesias include “Aromance Pink,” which bears sweet-scented two-tone pink blossoms.

Another exceptional pink is “Candy Girl,” which shows off abundant soft pink blooms on a foot-tall plant. Prefer trailing pink Nemesias? Look into the popular Sunsatia®, which comes in a variety of colors, including pink.2

White Nemesia

For a classic white Nemesia variety, consider Wisley Vanilla. This lovely plant displays upward-facing types of white flowers marked with yellow eyes on compact plants.

Other beautiful examples include Compact Innocence and Sunsatia Coconut.

Blue Nemesia

Some of the truest blue Nemesia flowers belong to an older variety called Aromatica True Blue. This tall plant reaches 14 inches in height and produces abundant fragrant soft blue blossoms.

Another top pick is Bluebird, which offers hundreds of tiny violet-blue flowers with a delightful clove scent. For small, pot-sized blue Nemesias, try the vibrant blooms of Blue Gem.

Choosing Nemesia Flowers

With so many types of Nemesia flowers available, it can be hard to settle on which to plant. Varieties range from compact mounding plants under a foot tall to trailing mixtures perfect for window boxes and hanging baskets, where colorful blooms attract attention.

What colors are Nemesia flowers? Options span from white to yellow, pink, red, orange, purple, blue, and bi-colors.

Closeup of Nemesia flowers showcasing their two-lipped tubular shape composed of white petals with red streaks and yellow stamens.

Image by plc02187410

Fragrance is another trait found among cultivated Nemesis plants. There are also many different heat-tolerant varieties and trailing varieties, as well as dwarf hybrids, which work well within indoor pots.

When selecting Nemesia plants for your garden, it’s best to speak to a local expert who can give you tips on which varieties will work best based on your regional climate. If you have a limited selection at local nurseries, you can always order seeds of different hybrids to get the color you prefer.

Just remember to give your seeds a head start by growing them for several weeks indoors, so you will have hearty Nemesia transplants that will flourish when you move them to the garden.6

Frequently Asked Questions About Nemesia

What Do Nemesia Flowers Symbolize?

Nemesia symbolism centers on friendship. This makes them a great option for platonic floral arrangements.

How Fast Does Nemesia Grow?

How long it takes to grow Nemesia depends on your local climate, soil conditions, and other key factors. In general, you will see sprouts begin to grow within 5 to 10 days of planting.7

How Should You Space Nemesia Plants?

When determining how far apart to plant Nemesia, you want to provide adequate space and airflow to prevent fungal growth. In general, you should leave 4 to 6 inches between each plant.

Does Nemesia Need a Lot of Sunlight?

How much sunlight does Nemesia need each day? Six to 8 hours is generally ideal, but you may want to reduce exposure as the summer heat intensifies.

Is Nemesia Edible?

Can you eat Nemesia? While the plant is not considered toxic, it’s also not considered edible, so it’s best to err on the side of caution and avoid consuming leaves or flowers.


1NC State Extension. (2024). Nemesia strumosa (Cape Jewels, Nemesia, Pouch Nemesia). North Carolina Extension Gardener Plant Toolbox. Retrieved January 20, 2024, from <>

2The Pennsylvania State University. (2024). Nemesia Sunsatia® ‘Cranberry Red’. Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences. Retrieved January 20, 2024, from <>

3Illinois Extension. Starting a Garden: Hardening Off Indoor Seedlings. (2020, April 6). Illinois Extension. Retrieved January 20, 2024, from <>

4University of Minnesota Extension.(2018). Starting seeds indoors. UMN Extension. Retrieved January 20, 2024, from <>

5Nelson, P. (2022, November 14). Nemesia. UC ANR. Retrieved January 20, 2024, from <>

6Extension Greenhouse Crops and Floriculture Program. (2017). Moving Cool Tolerant Plants Outdoors: Risks and Benefits. UMass Extension. Retrieved January 20, 2024, from <>

7Currey, C. J, Hutchinson, V. & Lopez, R.G. (2024). Reduce Flowering Time. College of Agriculture and Natural Resources – MSU. Retrieved January 20, 2024, from <>

8Species Information Image: Nemesia Easter Bonnet (snapdragon) Photo by Katrina Wright. (2022, August 1) / Unsplash License. Cropped and remixed with text, shape, and background elements. Unsplash. Retrieved January 19, 2024 from <>

9Nemesia, Flower, Nature image. Photo by herbert2512. Cropped, Resized, and Changed Format. Pixabay. Retrieved January 19, 2024 from <>

10Nemesia, Flowers, Plant image. Photo by plc021874. Cropped, Resized, and Changed Format. Pixabay. Retrieved January 19, 2024 from <>

11Nemesia, Orange nemesia, Flowering image. Photo by Etienne-F59. / Pixabay Content License. Cropped, Resized, and Changed Format. Pixabay. Retrieved January 19, 2024 from <>