This uncommon annual gets its common name from its colorful, velvety flowers, which people with overactive imaginations liken to grinning monkey faces. Smooth, succulent, medium green leaves form mounds about 1 ft. high and wide. Two-lipped, funnel-shaped blooms, 2212 in. long, range in color from cream to rose, orange, yellow, and scarlet, usually with brownish maroon spots. Magic Mix series features largely unspotted flowers in warm, vibrant colors. Monkey flower is among the better annuals for shade; use it in borders, hanging baskets, or window boxes. Mimulus alatus 'Curious Orange' is a good performer, reaching 18 in. tall with bright orange flowers.
This plant keels over in high temperatures, so in most places it's best used as a cool-weather annual. Sow seeds in fall for winter and spring bloom; or set out plants in early spring (or in winter in Florida and South Texas). Provide rich soil and feed with a balanced water-soluble fertilizer every 2 weeks. Pull up plants when heat causes them to decline.