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Nemesia photo

At a distance, Nemesia looks a lot like edging lobelia, with flowers that cover low-growing mounds of foliage. Up close, Nemesia flowers might also remind you of orchids. The top four petals form a fan with one large, sometimes lobed petal below. When temperatures are mild, the plant produces so many flowers that they almost completely obscure the foliage. Nemesia is a small bedding plant with many uses in the garden. Use them as edging plants, ground covers, in mixed borders, woodland plantings and as container or hanging basket plants. Most varieties grow to about a foot in height, but there are some that get as tall as two feet. These versatile little plants offer a wide range of flower colors, and some come in bicolors. The two most popular species are N. strumosa and N. caerulea. Both of these plants have several synonyms. N. strumosa is a true annual that produces 1-inch blue or white flowers and grows up to a foot tall. N. caerulea is a tender perennial in USDA plant hardiness zones 9 and 10, but it is usually grown as an annual. The half-inch flowers bloom in purple, pink, blue and white on plants that grow up to 2 feet tall with a spread of about a foot.