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ZBitterroot, Cliff maids, Siskiyou Lewisia
Lewisias are 6-inch-tall plants with small, attractive flowers
and long, blade-shaped leaves that are succulent in appearance.
The dark green leaves are arranged in rosettes. Lewisias are
known as rock-garden plants but are growing in popularity as
Lewisias are available in hues of red, pink, magenta, orange,
gold, yellow, apricot, white and cream. The blossoms are often
striped or bicolored.
Each bloom cycle will last for several weeks. With proper care
and favorable conditions, the plants can bloom several times a
year. The plants can survive for years, depending on the
Lewisias bloom naturally in late spring and early summer. They
usually are available from local growers. Order in advance to
• L. cotyledon - This is the
most popular species. A showy L. cotyledon hybrid is the
‘Sunset’ strain, which consists of several cultivars in vibrant
hues including white, pink, yellow and apricot.
• L. tweedyi - This species
has 6-centimeter-wide apricot blooms.
IN-STORE AND CONSUMER CARE
LIGHT Bright, indirect light
is best for Lewisia plants displayed indoors. Full sun can be
WATER Keep the soil moist at
all times during the growing season, but water sparingly during
the winter. Overwatering can cause root or crown rot.
TEMPERATURE Cool to average
warmth is best for displaying Lewisias. Do not refrigerate them
because sudden drops in temperature may result in wilt and
blossom drop. Keep the plants cool in winter.
HUMIDITY The plants will do
best in areas with moderate humidity. Do not mist Lewisias’
FERTILIZER Feed the plants
every three weeks during the growing season with a high
phosphorus or bloom fertilizer.
SOIL Lewisia plants prefer
A mixture of equal parts soil, sand, pea-gravel and good compost
GROOMING Cut Lewisia plants
back when they have finished flowering to remove faded flowers
and leaves. The plants naturally stay fairly compact and neat.
REPOTTING The plants can be
repotted in the spring.
Lewisias are not sensitive to ethylene gas.
BLOOMS Remove florets from
the stems as they fade.
FOLIAGE Avoid plants that
show signs of wilt, rot, mold or yellowing.
PESTS AND DISEASES Lewisias
are relatively trouble free. Watch for red spider mites on
indoor plants, and control them with insecticidal soap.
WHAT'S IN A NAME Lewisias
were named in honor of Capt. Meriwether Lewis, a leader of the
Lewis and Clark Expedition of 1804-1806. The specimens collected
by Capt. Lewis were sent to the The Academy of Natural Sciences
of Philadelphia as dried roots and surprised the researchers by
blooming, giving rise to the species name “rediviva.”
FAMILY Lewisias are members
of the Portulacaceae, or purslane, family. Relatives include
Portulaca (purslane, moss rose), Claytonia (spring beauty) and
Montia (miner’s lettuce).
HOME SWEET HOME In the
United States, Lewisia plants are native to Washington, Oregon,
California, Montana, Colorado and Arizona. They also are native
to the Sagebrush Plains and Alpine areas of British Columbia,
Some information provided by:
The House Plant Expert, Book Two, by Dr. D.G. Hessayon
North American Rock Garden Society,
Photos courtesy of Nurserymen’s Exchange, Inc.
You may reach “Blooming Plant of the Month” writer Steven W.
Brown, AIFD, at
email@example.com or by phone at (415) 239-3140.
Super Floral Retailing • Copyright 2008
Florists' Review Enterprises, Inc.