There are some plants that come under my list of must-haves, and Lewisia is definitely among them.

A plant destined for rock garden or container, it is relatively a no-muss-no-fuss plant once happily in its niche; a mostly sunny site, quick-draining soil and being kept sufficiently dry in winter pretty much all that’s really required.

Native Lewisias all have the fleshy leaves of their dry country succulent brethren; some have that lightning bolt of intense color typical of the plants of the desert, others more pale and delicate appearing. Each is uniquely lovely and will add a special cheer to your garden with a limited amount of care.


Lewisia cotyledon

Originating from the Siskiyou Mountains in southwestern Oregon and south into the north coast ranges of California, it makes up the vast majority of Lewisias available for sale, its hardiness and ease of cultivation and hybridization make it a favorite of plant enthusiasts of all sorts, and this Lewisia can be an easily successful specimen in gardens well beyond its native range. Though its appearance would make one think it wanted to bask in full sun, Lewisia cotyledon actually prefers a little shade during the day.

Its flower color can vary from plant to plant as well as among the many blossoms of a single plant. The flowers can be white to yellow to fiery orange to electric pink as well as in a variety of combinations of these, often with the exuberant color reminiscent to that of cacti. Wide, fleshy evergreen leaves form a basal rosette with the small multi-petaled flowers rising above numerously atop thin stems.


Lewisia columbiana

From the high, rocky reaches of British Columbia to northern Oregon east of the Cascades, Lewisia columbiana and its many naturally-occurring variations are a more diminutive and delicate-appearing group than their showier relatives. The basal rosette of leaves still fleshy and succulent, still evergreen, but instead of being broad they are narrower and much longer than wide. The flowers tend to be fewer-petaled and small, in a more open spray above the leaves, usually white with dark pink stripes or a more solid light lavender to magenta, forming a lovely drift of color when in full bloom.


Lewisia columbiana var. rupicola

Lewisia var. rupicola a smaller variety, found on Mt. Rainier, the Olympics and Oregon Coast Range, has flowers of soft lavender often with tiny magenta stripes.


Lewisia columbiana var. wallowensis

Lewisia var. wallowensis from far eastern Oregon above and around the Snake River, these flowers are smaller still, whitish with pink stripes. In both of these varieties the leaves are smaller and shorter than the species, but still evergreen.