Limnanthes douglasii

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this is an image of a poached egg flower with the text - how to encourage beneficial insects to your garden
Do you Grow Pollinator Friendly Plants? Limnanthes douglasii - Poached Egg plants are the very best hardy annuals for encouraging beneficial insects into your garden.  Indeed Bob Flowerdew has probably provided the greatest PR campaign for this little plant alone!
On my bookshelf I've quite of few of Bob's books. If you've ever read one of them you'll already know how passionate he is about these plants. His passion is contagious and as you read further it might pass on to you too!

Limnanthes douglasii Green Manure


What's the point in leaving the allotment/vegetable patch bare over the winter? Weeds can grow and take away the nutrients but you can grow Limnanthes douglasii instead!

Bob advocates not only using them as a pollinator friendly flower in the border, but also as a green manure to improve the soil fertility. As a result you'll help to prevent leaching and soil erosion.  He says that the common green manures are great for farmers. But quite often the seed mixture will regrow in the garden and the green manure plants are quite large to dig back into the soil.  When you use Limnanthes douglasii despite their large root system they are much easier to dig back into the soil as long as you do it before they go to seed.  


He even advises that you collect the seed first of all and save it till next year. Then you'll make the garden/allotment self-sufficient in fertility.  Once you've incorporated the plants into the soil ... leave them a few weeks to decompose. Then you can start to grow your spring crops.

this is a macro image of a white and yellow poached egg flower

A Win Win Situation!

Limnanthes douglasii are low growing and self-seeding. So 1 packet is maybe all you'll ever need to buy as they're very promiscuous! You can sow the seeds under fruit bushes, shrubs, roses and around other herbaceous plants. Not only will the flowers attract the pollinators but those pollinators when feeding on the pollen and/or nectar will also eat the aphids in your garden. They will also meet their mates in the garden. Subsequently lay their eggs, and their larvae will then eat your future generations of aphids. The plants will also give good ground cover and cut down on the weeding. It's a win win situation all round!

this is an image of Limnanthes douglasii - Poached Egg plants

Self-Seed Prolifically

When I was preparing this article I soon realised that I only grow the poached egg plants in my front garden. Well that has got to change and over the past weekend I transplanted some of the many seedlings from the front into the back garden.


Hopefully they'll flower and self seed themselves prolifically over time here too as I spend most of my time there rather than in the front garden. That inevitably will mean I'll be even more distracted from doing the weeding!

this is an image of Limnanthes douglasii - Poached Egg plants

When I was looking through my photography archives deciding on which ones to use for the article and I realised that I'd no good photos of pollinators feeding on the flowers.  That will have to change this year ...all I need is some decent weather to encourage the bees to venture out of their hives/nests; brrrh it doesn't feel like June here!
Hoverflies are never seen in my garden until a bit later in the summer.  If you want the hoverflies to enjoy these flowers too then save some of your seed to sow a little later so the plants will be in flower in July and August.


Limnanthes douglasii - Poached Egg plants

Past Perfect

Limnanthes douglasii - Poached Egg plants

Finally ...have you ever noticed how beautiful and intricate a fading Limnanthes flower really is? It's like a flower within a flower!


More gardeners should grow these plants! They will not only encourage the pollinators into the garden to pollinate fruit and vegetables but also help sustain our dwindling bee populations.

Rosie Nixon
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Photography Tutor and Gardener

Rosie is a garden photographer, writer and nature lover. She enjoys soaking up nature and is easily distracted from doing the weeding by anything that flutters, flies, buzzes, creeps or crawls! She enjoys sharing the beauty of creation through her photography. Rosie has been featured on TV on BBC2's The Beechgrove Garden and she uses the outdoors as her natural light studio. Her work can be seen at one of Scotland's only photography galleries - Close Gallery, 4b Howe Street, Edinburgh. If you'd like to receive the latest leavesnbloom blog posts by email click here.

Rosie Nixon
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