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Clarkia

Onagraceae
Annuals

Native to western South and North America; especially numerous in California. Plants grow during cool times of year, bloom in spring and early summer. Attractive in mixed borders or in mass displays. Cut branches keep for several days; cut when top bud opens (others open successively). Sow seed in place in fall (in mild-winter areas) or spring. Seedlings are difficult to transplant, but volunteer seedlings grow well. Best in sandy soil without added fertilizer. Keep soil moist from seeding to flowering.

Clarkia amoena (photo courtesy of Thomas J. Story)
Clarkia amoena (photo courtesy of Thomas J. Story)

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Clarkia amoena

Native from California to British Columbia. Two wild forms: one has coarse stems and sprawls 4–5 in. high; the other has more slender stems and grows 1 1/2–2 1/2 ft. high. Tapered leaves are 1/2–2 in. long. On both forms, upright buds open into cup-shaped, 2-in.-wide, slightly flaring pink or lavender flowers, usually blotched or penciled in crimson. Although seeds of named varieties are rarely sold in the U.S. (more available in England), strains of mixed colors are easy to find. Dwarf Gem grows to 10 in. tall; Tall Upright reaches 2–3 ft.

Clarkia concinna (photo courtesy of Annie’s Annuals & Perennials)
Clarkia concinna (photo courtesy of Annie’s Annuals & Perennials)

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Clarkia concinna

California native. Grows to 1 1/2 ft. tall. Deep pink to lavender flowers with three-lobed, fan-shaped petals. Rounded leaves are 1/2–2 in. long. May be found in wildflower seed mixes.

Clarkia unguiculata

California native. Erect, 1–4 ft. tall. Reddish stems, 1–1 3/4 -in.-long leaves, 1-in. flowers in rose, purple, white. Some varieties have double flowers in white, orange, salmon, crimson, purple, rose, pink, or creamy yellow. Double-flowered kinds are the ones usually sold in seed packets.

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