Virtues:Lewisia cotyledon is a charming little plant for the rock garden. It is extremely tolerant of drought, it requires very little space (or soil) and it offers surprisingly big, bright flowers in the spring.
Common name: Bitterroot, cliff maids, Siskiyou lewisia
Botanical name:Lewisia cotyledon
Exposure: Full sun to part shade
Season: Spring, for flowers
Flowers: Rounded clusters of flowers open in late spring atop relatively tall stems that rise straight up above the foliage. These come in shades of pink, white, yellow and orange, sometimes with contrasting stripes on the petals.
Foliage: Lewisia cotyledon has spoon-shape, succulent leaves that form a ground-hugging rosette.
Habit: This plant is considered an evergreen perennial, but it can shrivel and disappear in hot summers, to return with cooler weather. The leafy rosette generally stays below four to six inches, but the flowering stems can rise to double the rosette’s height.
Origins: Rocky, forested slopes of southern Oregon and northern California
How to grow Siskiyou lewisia: Plant this little plant in a pocket of rocky, sandy, well-drained soil in the rock garden or in or atop a stone wall. Full sun is acceptable in the North, but Lewisia cotyledon does best with protection from midday sun in the South. Water lightly as the plant is getting established, but thereafter provide no supplemental water, especially in summer, when lewisia may go dormant. USDA Zones 3–8.
Image credit: Marta Johnson / iStock / Getty Images