The golden-yellow centred, saucer-shaped flowers of the familiar Limnanthes douglasii are delicately scented and beloved of bees. The Poached Egg Plant is used in rock gardens and containers. It is also a good candidate for edging material and as a denizen of the border.
The plants grow either erect or spreading, from 15 to 30cm (6 to 12in) high to 15cm (6in) wide. The fragrant, abundant flowers appear from summer to autumn and attract bees and butterflies for the duration.
This lovely plant provides a carpet of fragrant golden and white blooms that will grace the front of the border, rockery or path edging.
This beautiful little plant is very easy to grow and often found in the children’s corner of seed suppliers, however this little plant should not be underestimated, it can be a valuable resource for the allotmenteer - Limnanthes douglasii can be employed as both a companion plant to crops and as a green manure.
Beloved of bees and adored by hoverflies and other beneficial insects, the plants provide a rich supply of nectar that will bring natural predators of pests, such as aphids, mites, mealy bugs and caterpillars directly to your vegetable bed.
Bob Flowerdew is a strong advocate of using Limnanthes douglasii, together with claytonia and corn salad as green manure – as you will know if you’ve read any of his books. All three are easier to kill off and dig in, making them more suitable for garden use. The latter two also provide edible greens and fodder to his chickens. It makes an excellent ‘green manure’ to dig into poor quality soil and can even be grown in poorly drained clay soils.
- Awarded the RHS Award of Garden Merit
Limnanthes douglasii has been awarded the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit (AGM).
Sowing: Sow indoors Feb to March or outdoors April to May
Limnanthes can be sown early indoors or directly where they are to flower in spring or in late summer to early autumn for overwintering. They germinate best at temperatures around 16°C (60°F), in around 14 to 20 days.
For attractive winter/early spring flowering pot plants, sow in a cool greenhouse from mid summer to early autumn.
Prepare the ground well and rake to a fine tilth. Sow 3mm (1/8in) deep in rows 30cm (12in) apart.
Thin out the seedlings to 10cm (4in) apart.
Sow indoors in early spring 6 to 8 weeks before the last frost date is due. Keep soil moderately moist during germination. Plant outside after all risk of frosts has passed.
They prefer full sun and a cool moist root run and because of this do very well when grown as an edging to paths.
If allowed, Limnanthes will self-seed freely and can be left to naturalise, germinating and flowering at different times. This can be imitated by sowing in autumn for flowers as early as April, and from spring to July for a long sequence of summer flowers.
Bedding, Borders, Ground Cover, Path Edging, Patios, Rock Gardens and containers.
Companion Plant and Green Manure.
Beloved of bees and adored by hoverflies, the plants provide a rich supply of nectar that will bring natural predators of pests directly to your vegetable bed. Hoverflies are especially useful as they eat eat aphids and blackfly. Grow poached egg plant with tomatoes and near to bean crops.
Limnanthes makes an excellent green manure to dig into poor quality soil and can even be grown in poorly drained clay soils.
Limnanthes douglasii is native to the west coast of North America where it grows in wet, grassy habitat, such as vernal pools and spring meadows. There are four subspecies :
- ssp. nivea, with mostly white flowers, grows in the coastal mountains of northern California
- ssp. rosea, found in California's Central Valley and adjacent hills, often has pink veining on its petals.
- ssp. sulphurea is a rare yellow-petaled subspecies endemic to the Bay Area.
- ssp. douglasii is native to the coastal mountains and valleys of south-western Oregon and south to the San Francisco Bay Area.
Pronounced lim-nan’thus dug-las’e-i. The genus is named from the Greek limne meaning 'a marsh' and anthos meaning 'a flower', so meaning 'marsh flower' because of this plant's preference for moist soil.
The species was collected by the Scottish explorer and botanist David Douglas, who worked on the west coast of America in the 1820s. It is often known as Limnanthes douglasii ssp. douglasii and in some areas it is known as Douglas' meadowfoam.
It is a species of flowering plant in the Limnanthaceae or meadowfoam family. Native to the Pacific Northwest, fields of the white flowered form look like foaming ocean waves, hence the name.
The plant usually bears white flowers with yellow centres, hence the common names of "Poached Egg” or “Fried Egg” plant, but flower colour can vary across subspecies.
David Douglas (1798-1834)
David Douglas was a Scottish collector who was sent to North America first in 1823 and then two more times by the Horticultural Society of London to collect plants that could grow in English gardens.
He began his professional life at the age of eleven as an apprentice gardener, then attended college near his home in Perth. Later he became associated with the Botanical Gardens in Glasgow where the new Professor of Botany who happened to be William Jackson Hooker was impressed by him and took him on collecting field trips.
His first trip was to the East Coast, New York, Philadelphia and Canada, meeting such notables as John Torrey and Thomas Nuttall. His second was to the Columbia River area of the Northwest, and his third to California, where he collected 500 specimens of California plants and discovered the Douglas fir. He also discovered the Sitka spruce, the sugar pine and numerous other conifers, and had the reputation of being a crack shot able to shoot down the cones from the tops of sugar pines.
He died on the slopes of Mauna Kea in Hawaii after ostensibly falling into a pit dug to entrap wild bulls and being gored by a wild bull that had previously fallen in. However, there was considerable evidence that he had actually been murdered by a man whom he had breakfasted on the morning of his death, a man named Ned Gurney who had escaped from Australia's Botany Bay and come to Hawaii where he gained his living as a bullock hunter.
Douglas was only 35 years old and had introduced to Europe over 200 new species.
Arenaria douglasii, Astragalus douglasii, Baccharis douglasii, Carex douglasii, Chaenactis douglasii, Cicuta douglasii, Coreopsis douglasii, Cusickiella douglasii, Draba douglasii, Limnanthes douglasii, Microseris douglasii, Minuartia douglasii, Phacelia douglasii, Poa douglasii, Pogogyne douglasii, Polygonum douglasii, Quercus douglasii, Satureja douglasii, Senecio flaccidus var. douglasii, Solanum douglasii, Viola douglasii, Amsinckia douglasiana, Artemisia douglasiana, Iris douglasiana.
- Awarded the RHS Award of Garden Merit
- Additional Information
Seed Form Natural Seeds per gram 125 seeds / gram Family Limnanthaceae Genus Limnanthes Species douglasii Synonym ssp. douglasii Common Name Poached Egg Plant or Fried Egg Plant. Other Common Names Meadowfoam Hardiness Hardy Annual Flowers Yellow with a white margin Natural Flower Time Spring to Late Summer Height 15 to 30cm (6 to 12in) Spread 15cm (6in) Position Full sun Soil Suitable to any type of soil Time to Sow Sow indoors February to March, or directly outdoors April to June Germination 14 to 21 days at 16°C (60°F)