Clarkia Wildflowers: Growing and Care

Clarkia [KLAR-kee-uh] is a self-seeding hardy annual plant and annual wildflower apart of the Evening Primrose family (Onagraceae).

Clarkia wildflowers are so-called because they were “discovered” growing on the coastal bluffs of California by the Lewis and Clark expedition.

blooms of clarkia wildflowers

Common names include:

  • Godetia
  • Silk Flower
  • Eucharidium
  • Farewell-To-Spring
  • Mountain Garland

Clarkia’s Latin name is Clarkia amoena.

The genus name honors William Clark of the Lewis, and the specific epithet means delightful or pleasant.

Clark discovered the native plant on the Pacific Coast of North America, found in coastal hills and mountains from British Columbia south to the San Francisco Bay Area.

Even though Clark brought back many specimens at the end of the expedition, these California native plants did not become popular until 1823.

At this time an explorer by the name of William Davis discovered them again and made seeds available to gardeners.

Since then, Silk Flower has been a very popular plant for cottage gardens and cutting gardens.

Clarkia Wildflowers Care

Size & Growth

These plants grow to be between 2’ – 3’ feet tall, yet they spread only about 8” – 12” inches.

Because they are tall and thin, they often need support to prevent them from toppling over.

Stems are very tall at 30″ inches and flexible.

Leaves are green and lance-shaped.

Flowering & Fragrance

These attractive wildflowers range in color from pink to red to lavender with a darker spot at petal bases.

Typical bloom time is June-July.

In very mild climates they may bloom in the wintertime as well.

The frilly, crêpe like blossoms come in double and semi-double arrangements.

Farewell-To-Spring plants do well when they are crowded, and this may even increase blossoming.

Even so, take care to provide good air circulation to prevent fungus problems.

Clarkia flowers are great pollinators for bees, butterflies, and other beneficial insects.

Light & Temperature

If you live in a very hot setting, Godetia will do better in partial shade but typically full sun is where it will thrive.

Excessively hot weather causes a reduction in flowering.

These easy to grow wildflowers are winter hardy in USDA hardiness zones 8 through 10.

Watering & Feeding

Water deeply, occasionally.

These drought-tolerant plants do better with less water and no fertilizer.

Especially avoid extra nitrogen as Eucharidium are quite averse to this nutrient.

For this reason, you should avoid planting this wildflower close to nitrogen fixers such as lupines, clover.

  • Lupines
  • Clover
  • Beans
  • Peas

Soil & Transplanting

Like most wildflowers, Silk Flower needs light, well-draining soil.

Don’t amend the soil excessively, and be careful not to keep it wet.

Farewell-To-Spring does not like to be transplanted, so you will very seldom (if ever) find seedlings available-for-sale.

Grooming & Maintenance

If plants become very tall and floppy, you will need to stake them.

Trim back dead foliage and deadhead flowers to present a tidy appearance.

If you want the plants to self-sow, you should leave some flowers in place and allow them to go to seed at the end of the blooming season.

How To Propagate Godetia

It’s very easy to take care of Silk Flower once you get them established.

It’s a little bit difficult to get them started.

If you live in a warm area, sow seed in the autumn.

In colder climates, you should sow the seeds early in the springtime.

Clarkia seeds should be sown very densely on the surface of the soil because they need light in order to germinate.

Just press the seeds into the soil. Don’t cover them.

Once seeds have started, you’ll want to thin away weaker plants and retain stronger ones.

Seedlings should be spaced 4” – 6” inches apart.

When sowing Silk Flower seed, it’s a good idea to incorporate a few thin branches with lots of twigs into your planting.

This will give the seedlings some support as they grow.

If you start seeds indoors, the transplanting problem will apply.

If you decide you want to sow seeds indoors between early spring and late spring, be sure to use peat pots, homemade paper pots or half eggshells as starting containers so you won’t have so much trouble with transplanting.

Sow seeds four to six weeks before the average last frost date.

Eucharidium Pest or Disease Problems

These wildflowers are naturally disease and pest resistant.

As with all plants, lack of sunlight, poor air circulation, and soggy conditions can cause pest, bacterial and fungal problems, such as:

Is Eucharidium Toxic or Poisonous?

Clarkia plants are not toxic.

Native Americans of the Miwok tribe collected and dried the seeds to be ground into meal for cooking.

Is Eucharidium Invasive?

The elegant clarkia grows naturally all along the west coast of the United States and in the upper northeastern corner of the US.

It is not considered invasive.

Suggested Uses For Clarkia Silk Flower

Silk Flower is a good choice for cutting gardens and cottage gardens.

They also make a lovely addition to wildflower meadows and mass plantings.

They can make a good back border plant with support.

Look at different variations such as Clarkia unguiculata to see what pairs well with your scenery.

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