By Ralph E. Mitchell
A plant called Mecardonia or Baby Jump Up is in my sights this week. My wife and I spotted this plant a few weeks ago at a local family-run nursery. I purchased a specimen and have been really impressed with its attributes ever since! This cultivated plant is the result of a wild native plant and a hybridized version. The best of both worlds, improved cultivars make spectacular subjects for an ornamental plant-hungry world of gardeners.
Baby Jump Up is related to many familiar plants you may be growing now such as Angelonia and Nemesia. Mecardonia is actually a native plant from the southern United States growing down through South America. Hybrids of this original plant and other species have brought us a very low-growing plant of about four-inches high and one-foot wide. Small serrated leaves are topped by numerous five-eighths-of-an-inch, yellow, bell-shaped flowers. The blooms on the modern hybrids are sterile and do not produce seed. This characteristic keeps this plant blooming without the chore of deadheading old flowers. In our area Mecardonia is a perennial, but further north it can be killed back by temperatures in the twenties. Grow Mecardonia in full-sun to part-shade setting with well-drained soil kept evenly moist for best blooms.
Several named cultivars are available on the market including ‘Magic Carpet™’, ‘GoldDust™’ and ‘Goldflake™’. All cultivars are well-suited to planting beds, in containers and especially in hanging baskets. The trailing stems of the plant will root wherever they touch the soil. Noted as heat-tolerant, Mecardonia are moderately drought-tolerant, but really benefit from regular watering for superior flower production.
You should be able to find several of the Mecardonia hybrid cultivars available at most garden centers and local nurseries. Mecardonia make good complementary plantings when used with the previously mentioned Angelonia, as well as Impatiens and marigolds.
Baby Jump Up in all its forms is sure to impress and fill your garden and heart with a well-loved new plant! For more information on all types of flowering plants suitable for our area, or to ask a question, please visit https://www.facebook.com/CharlotteMGLifeline/. Ralph E. Mitchell is the Director/Horticulture Agent for the UF/IFAS Charlotte County Extension Service. He can be reached at 941-764-4344 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Don’t forget that Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ is a program that our office encourages as it promotes planting the “right plant in the right place”, water conservation, common sense pest management, sensible use of fertilizers, composting, etc. that help develop a sustainable landscape. For more information on this important, over-arching program, please contact Sara Weber, FFL Education-Training Specialist, at Sara.Weber@charlottecountyfl.gov .
Klingaman, G. (2013) Plant of the Week: Magic Carpet, Yellow. University of Arkansas Extension Service.
Hubbuch, C. (2020) Gardening in the Coastal Southeast The Genus Mecardonia. http://southeastgarden.com/mecardonia.html.
Dave’s Garden (2020) Mecardonia, Axilflower ‘Goldflake’ https://davesgarden.com/guides/pf/go/71457/
Costa Farms, LLC. (2020) Mecardonia.