In Praise of Nemesias

Reading time 6 minutes


When something you like grows well in your garden it makes sense to grow more of it. I count agapanthus, zantedeschia, trachelospermum and osteospermum amongst the plants that more than make themselves at home – they positively take possession. We all need carefree plants like this, otherwise gardening would be a slog. They look after themselves whilst we fuss around less robust treasures, encouraging them to live in places they’d prefer not to live.  A happy, unconstrained plant is a better looking plant, always. You can train, prune, relocate, spray, feed, deadhead or talk to the wrong plant in the wrong place for as long as you like, but it will never feel at home.

So, having had great success with a small, white, scented nemesia named ‘Wisley Vanilla’ I have continued to plant more and more in tubs, bowls and window boxes. The scent of the flowers is warm and delicious, like vanilla-infused custard, and the flowers blush pale pink when they are planted in sun. I have not experienced a winter yet when the plants have not pulled through, often in full bloom by April when they mingle between daffodils and tulips. The only maintenance required is the removal of spent flowers a couple of times each season. In light shade the plants can be encouraged to make neater bushes if the leading shoots are pinched out. Beyond that, little other than an occasional shot of Tomorite or Miracle Grow is needed to deliver an almost perpetual display of delightfully fragrant flowers.



Flushed with success the plant breeders have quickly expanded the range of scented nemesias available to gardeners. When I first saw Nemesia ‘Plums and Custard’ at Broadstairs Garden Centre I knew I had to diversify. Of the many new hybrids on the market, this is one of the most striking, its flowers an audacious combination of violet and canary yellow, held above glossy green foliage. The flowers are produced in much tighter clusters than ‘Wisley Vanilla’, which only serves to accentuate their dramatic colouration. Plant with yellow daisies or purple salvias to really bring out those vibrant tones.



Having decided not to turf everything out of my winter windowboxes I have, instead, supplemented a planting of ivy, hellebores, euonymus and rosemary with ….. you guessed it ….. more nemesias. Here was an excuse to try another bi-coloured variety called ‘Berries and Cream’. The name says it all, with flowers blotched, marbled and veined in shades of raspberry and blackcurrant. This colourway would blend far more easily with pinks, purples and yellows in a hanging basket or container display. ‘Berries and Cream’ is sweetly scented, but the fragrance is not as reminiscent of vanilla as the other two varieties.



Given a water retentive growing medium, Nemesias are easy plants to grow, either as annuals or tender perennials. If they don’t make it through the winter they are easily replaced from cuttings* or newly purchased plants. During the growing season nemesias simply demand to be appreciated for their cheeky flowers and mellow fragrance. Planted now, they won’t stop giving back until the first frosts.

I’d love to hear which plants are good ‘doers’ for you. What are your go-to plants for summer colour and scent? Every garden, and gardener, is different. TFG.


*If you do choose to take cuttings, be aware that many plants, including these nemesias, are protected by Plant Breeders’ Rights (PBR). These restrict anyone from profiting from their propagation, unless they have express permission to do so. Propagation for personal use is permitted, but not for sale, even if it’s for charity.





Categories: Annuals, Container gardening, Flowers, Foliage, Our Coastal Garden, Perennials, Photography, Plant Portraits, Plants

Posted by The Frustrated Gardener

Greetings Garden Lover! Welcome to my blog. Plants are my passion and this is my way of sharing that joyful emotion with the world. You'll find over 1000 posts here featuring everything from abutilons to zinnias. If you've enjoyed what you've read, please leave a comment and consider subscribing using the yellow 'Follow' button in the bottom, right-hand corner of your screen. You will receive an email every time I post something new.

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7 comments On "In Praise of Nemesias"

  1. so pretty Dan – I love that Berries and Cream and Plums and Custard…. I only have very boring ‘standard’ white nemesia’s – not sure of the variety , but I have a lot of them – I saved the seeds and they seem to grow super well with me just scattering them amongst the salvias and lavender. Agree they are a delight in the garden. Yours look so pretty in the pots with the daisies. Must say I have never smelt anything quite like that Wisley Vanilla, so I will have to see if I can buy it here. Yours was super scented! With frosts and minus 2 starts to the day through to mid 40’s heat, there are not a lot of plants that can deal with all these conditions in our garden. I have found even the aggies get sunburnt when we hit 40 plus temperatures. Plants I know I can rely on for a good show here no matter what, include dianellas, walkers blue nepetas, (they seem to survive every nature throws at them and they look wonderful with my roses), some salvias and birds of paradise… yes an odd lot, but they aren’t all planted together!

    I am very much into pretty rather than structural at the moment, so am lovely your beautiful photos. Thanks so much.

    1. An eclectic bunch for sure Helen! I dug up my dianellas as they always looked tatty and I cut my hands on the leaves every time I tried to tidy them up. They are vicious. Birds of paradise, as you know, are indoor creatures here. Your temperature range is a defining factor in what will grow for you, but I don’t think you have the dampness that we have to contend with in England (not so much in East Kent)? That sees off a lot of Mediterranean stuff unless one is very careful.

      I do still love it when you report that it’s cold in Australia as we all imagine it’s hot and sunny 100% of the time and that you have barbecues every day!

  2. Hi there, new blogger here! Really enjoyed this post as I love nemesias myself. Such pretty, delicate blooms that really brighten up any garden.

    I have to say that every year I am happy to see stocks in any garden. I love their distinct smell, a spicy sweetness that is unique to that particular flower. I run a flower shop and they were a huge hit when I had some in a couple of weeks ago!

    I’m just getting into gardening myself, so I am looking forward to future posts from you and other bloggers in the community!

    All the best,
    Jess 🙂

  3. I have just come in from a coffee in the garden and was enjoying the lovely vanilla smell of N Wisley vanilla which I bought following your recommendation last year!

  4. I prefer Diascias myself. And they do manage to live through the winter in containers and re-flower the following spring. They flower very early starting in May and provided you dead head when they start to turn brown at the tips go on and on. I have not grown Nemesia since the seventies, then they seemed to go over very quickly and dead heading did not restore vigour maybe today’s strain’s are made from stronger stock ?

    1. I am sure they probably are Kathryn. In thirty years they have probably come on in leaps and bounds. Maybe give them another try? I love diascias too, but have killed rather a lot of them. I have a peach coloured one, planted as an annual, which survived the winter and is looking lovely at the moment.

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