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CLARKIA unguiculata

Image of Clarkia unguiculata

Michael Charters, www.calflora.net

Family

Onagraceae

Botanical Name

CLARKIA unguiculata

Plant Common Name

Elegant Clarkia, Mountain Garland, Woodland Clarkia

General Description

Upright reddish stems lined with rosy papery flowers are highlights of the elegant clarkia. This tall wildflower is endemic (native only) to California, existing in chaparral, grasslands and forest clearings. It is a fast-growing annual that naturally blooms from mid-spring to early summer when conditions are mild and cool. Garden grown specimens can be sown year-round as long as temperatures and mild and humidity low.

Elegant clarkia grows upright with reddish stems and sparse green to gray-green leaves. Each leaf blade is a linear and lance-shaped, often with small teeth along the edges. Plant often branch, but still look rather wispy. Flower buds arise from the base of the leaves. The flowers have four club-shaped petals of rose-pink to deep violet. White flowers are a rarity. After pollination by insects or the occasional hummingbird elongated seed capsules full of small seeds are produced. Scattered seeds germinate in the fall or spring.

Grow elegant clarkia in full to dappled sun in moderately fertile to poor sandy loam soil with good drainage. Do not fertilize, as rich soils diminishes flowering. Sow seeds directly on the ground where you wish them to grow intermixed with other naturalistic spring ornamentals. There are many wonderful varieties including double-flowered forms that look like double hollyhock blossoms. The Royal Bouquet Series is once such collection.

In subtropical regions, sow seeds in fall for flowering during the drier, cooler winter months. Hot, very humid and rainy weather causes elegant clarkia to perform poorly. The blooms make exceptional cut flowers.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    9 - 1

  • Sunset Zone

    A2, A3, 1a, 1b, 2a, 2b, 3a, 3b, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24

  • Plant Type

    Annual

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun, Partial Sun, Partial Shade

  • Height

    1'-3' / 0.3m - 0.9m

  • Width

    8"-12" / 20.3cm - 30.5cm

  • Bloom Time

    Spring, Late Spring, Early Summer

  • Native To

    California

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Neutral

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Loam, Sand

  • Growth Rate

    Very Fast

  • Water Requirements

    Drought Tolerant, Average Water

  • Habit

    Clump-Forming

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Showy

  • Flower Color

    White, Pink, Lavender, Violet

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Green, Gray Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Green, Gray Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Green, Gray Green

  • Fragrant Flowers

    No

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Flower Petal Number

    Single

  • Repeat Bloomer

    Yes

  • Showy Fruit

    No

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    No

  • Foliage Texture

    Medium

  • Foliage Sheen

    Matte

  • Evergreen

    No

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Usage

    Bedding Plant, Cutflower, Mixed Border, Rock Garden / Wall, Wildflower

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    No

  • Attracts

    Hummingbirds, Butterflies

  • Self-Sowing

    Yes