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I'm getting rather interested in lewisias and wonder if anyone has much experience with them?

West Midlands, United Kingdom Gb

I'm getting rather interested in lewisias (only seen pics)and wonder if anyone has much experience with them? I suppose I would have to grow them in a pot or trough as they need such good drainage. Any advice would be welcome, even if it's dont bother lol:-)



Hi B a.

Winter wet as you have already hinted is their problem. This with extreme cold just causes them to rot.

There are a few things that can be done to help them. Obviously a cold glasshouse is one. Growing in a raised bed is another though even this may need them being covered with bell jars through winter to keep the wet off them.

Many people claim success planting them on their side in a wall pocket filled with course gritty soil and this as long as not too shaded is an option.....if you have a wall and indeed want them growing out of your wall?

You could of course grow them in pots that can be plunged outdoors in summer and uplifted in autumn for indoors?

Lastly, many grow so easily from seed with several really good strains out there that it might be just as good to treat them as short lived perennials and keep replacing any that fail over the winter with new ones?

8 Jan, 2011


Hi Ba, I can understand your interest, as they are beautiful flowers, but they ARE tricky. As Fractal says, growing out of a wall is one option, as they really should be grown on their side. This is so that water cannot accumulate in their crown. I hope you have a warm, sheltered place, and can give them a go.

8 Jan, 2011


And there are more than just the Lewisia cotyledon types, which are the most commonly seen ones. I have tried to grow all the species at one time or another, without much success I confess. If you do get interested there is a good book on them, maybe out of print now though The Genus Lewisia by Brian Matthew ISBN 0 7470 2217 8
I have posted a fair number of pictures of Lewisias taken at Alpine Garden society shows.

8 Jan, 2011


Fractal has covered most of the issues with Lewisias. We grow some with modest success, at best. One of the species, L. columbiana, seems to survive outdoors in a well drained raised bed here and, as an alterantive to the wall crevice, you can try growing under an overhanging rock in the rockery facing south. It is water collecting in the neck of the plant that causes them to rot.

8 Jan, 2011


Used to visit a wholesale grower of L. cotyledon who grew them by the 1,000 in big plastic polytunnels with OVERHEAD watering. He grew them in a mixture of sheep's wool and something else which escapes me at present. So the question is why he could water from above and get away with it. Well, if you went in the tunnels just after they had been watered, then you would have found that the plants were sodden, neck and all, but within a very short time of that, the whole of the plant, out of the pots, was bone dry.
We have kept L. columbiana growing in a crevice on one of our rock gardens for a number of years. It finally succumbed to being uprooted by a shrew!

8 Jan, 2011


Could it be composted bracken, Ob, this seems to be the new acidic compost that is being experimented with.

8 Jan, 2011


Easy as you like. Just treat them with a little healthy neglect. Gritty compost, after flowering dry them off and forget them (mid-late summer), keep them drained in winter, flush them in spring, and away they go. They're a plant of dry screes and slopes. Will Ingwersen, who grew them professionally for many years, and exhibited them at Chelsea (with my Dad) for many years, was my guru. A few simple rules, and they flourished. I still have the cotyledon types several years old in clay pots in my unheated greenhouse. Worthy

8 Jan, 2011


O wow, thanks everyone for all your advice. I had just decided that they're not for me as it would be an uphill battle, when Worthy popped up lol, unfortunately, I don't have a greenhouse I wish I had thought of planting pockets in my new low walls (makeover 2010) bit late now. I think the only way would be in pots and bring them inside in winter. Thanks again for all your help:-)

8 Jan, 2011


Well, that's an eye-opener, Worthy. So you've grown them right way up, and they've flourished? If that's the case, I'll look forward to trying one or two again in my "alpine" bed. Have you grown them from seed??

9 Jan, 2011

How do I say thanks?

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