Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Lewisia cotyledon 'Sunset Strain' Bitter root

The Lewisia genus is named for Meriwether Lewis of the Lewis and Clark expedition. They are related to portulacas. There is a variety named L. rediviva which means 'brought back to life' that refers to its ability to revive after desiccation. A botanist in London who was studying Lewis' dried plant collection five years after Lewis returned to civilization found that the Lewisia was trying to grow! He planted it and it grew. Thus the name rediviva.

Apparently they are happiest growing in gravelly soil with sharp drainage to prevent wet-rotting of the roots. But they also like acid and fertile soil which presents a problem that I don't know how to overcome. How do you make a sandy, gravelly soil, rich and acid all at the same time? I guess they would do well in an alpine garden.

I bought our Lewisia from Avant Gardens already in full bloom. They really sent me a nice specimen of Lewisia cotyledon 'Sunset Strain' with a very nice dark pink color. I dug a large hole in some high ground with good drainage. Dumped some pea gravel in a third of the hole and mixed sand and potting soil for the planting. I hope this is enough to prevent root rot.

There are several varieties of Lewisias which would make a great collection of these interesting plants but some are close to being endangered by overcollection in the wild so buy from a reputable nursery that grows the plants from seed. Read more about this fascinating plant at Paghat's Garden.


Blogger lisa said...

Another plant we have in common...mine is 'Little Plum', from High Country Gardens. I just put it in full sun in my sandy, acid soil, and it's doing great! I'd put them in last year, and was afraid they might not winter over, but no problem!

6:37 AM  
Blogger Ki said...

Hey Lisa, you seem to be one step ahead of me. "Another plant we have in common"...'great minds think alike'. ;) Good to hear the Lewisia is thriving. I just hope I added enough sand to the mix. It's in a sheltered spot away from the cold winter winds so I'm hoping it will survive the winter ok. Now I'm tempted to look for all the other varieties to start a collection. Isn't it always the case? You buy one and want all of them.

9:41 AM  
Blogger Kate said...

Last week, I found a peach Lewisia - it is a Lewisia cotyledon as well. My pink Lewisia is still blooming and has several more buds that are about to flower.

2:56 PM  
Blogger Ki said...

Ooo!, I hope you post a picture of the peach colored one, Kate. Must be really lovely. Unfortunately the one I got is not blooming anymore. Just as well I guess. Put all its energy into growing and getting established. We had a pretty good rain several days ago and the plant didn't drown so I guess the pebbles and sand are doing the job. I took your advice about not letting the leaves touch the soil so I have them propped up by small stones. Thanks for the first hand info on Lewisia culture!

Have you looked into getting other varieties of Lewisia? L. rediviva would be an interesting one to have. The flowers I've seen on the 'net look quite lovely too.

6:33 PM  
Blogger Blackswamp_Girl said...

Ooooh... one that you, Lisa and I do NOT have in common. But soon will, if I can just find the darn thing around here--it's lovely. :)

8:26 PM  
Blogger Ki said...

Now you've got my interest piqued, Kim. I hope you're not messy like I am and can't find a darned thing anymore. ;)

4:31 AM  

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