Growing Clarkia: Farewell-to-Spring

Growing Clarkia: Farewell-to-Spring
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Growing ClarkiaClarkia, also known as farewell-to-spring, is a pretty heirloom flower that is easily grown in flower beds or containers. It was previously known as Godetia, and is still referred to by this name.

Clarkia pulchella, was one of the flowers that Lewis and Clark found as they traveled across the Louisiana Purchase. It was named for Captain William Clark by a German botanist and became popular in the 19th-century.

There are many varieties of Clarkia that have since been recorded and all are lovely flowers in vivid shades of deep rose, purple, pink, red, white and salmon.

There are several varieties of Clarkia, including a dwarf that grows nicely in pots. Clarkia likes full sun and poor soil--- if the soil is fertile or too much compost is added the plant will grow lush foliage with very few flowers. Wet feet is also a no-no with this annual. Well drained soil in full sun in the north, and partial shade in the warmer climates will make this annual happy.

Clarkia should be direct seeded in early spring when the ground can be worked. It needs light to germinate so scatter the seeds, then cover very lightly. When the plants are just 2-3 inches tall thin to 8-10 inches apart.

They will germinate quickly if the conditions are right in a week to ten days. If it's especially cloudy it may take a little longer. In mild climates you can plant in the fall as well. Don't allow the seedlings dry out, but don't over water either. Clarkia has a thinner stem, so taller varieties will need to be staked. You'll also want to deadhead after blooming.

You can stagger the sowing every couple of weeks to extend the bloom time. Start sowing about 2 weeks before the last frost. Nature Hills carries Clarkia amoena seeds here. This is a dwarf variety and it's great for containers. They will dry out on hot and/or windy days more than normal, so watch the pots and water as needed.

Farewell-to-Spring is a lovely heirloom annual that will bring vivid color and charm to your garden, windowboxes or containers. Many heirloom plants fall to the wayside because they don't make good commercial bedding plants. Clarkia is one that is easy to grow from seed, and can be passed from friend to friend and family to family.



About The Author

Brenda Hyde is a freelance writer living on ten acres in rural Michigan with her husband and three kids. She is a mom, grandma, gardener, cook and writer. She blogs on all of these topics at


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