Native to the American West, bitterroot holds multiple claims to fame: it was a staple food source for several Native American tribes, it caught the eye of Meriwether Lewis (hence the genus Lewisia) on their famous western expedition, the Bitterroot Mountains, the Bitterroot Valley, and the Bitterroot River were named after it, and it is Montana’s state flower. For the garden, this famous alpine and dryland wildflower makes an interesting succulent specimen during its winter growing period with tubular verdant leaves. In the spring, the foliage almost entirely disappears under flowers larger than any other lewisia species I grow. Bitterroot then goes dormant in summer, shortly after flowering. It can tolerate surprisingly large amounts of rainfall during its fall, winter, and spring growing season, but needs to be kept dry during its summer dormancy. It prefers good drainage.
- Small: This 3-year-old plant is sold pre-finished (not yet filled out) in a one-quart (4.5″ Tall) pot or a 4.5″ round pot for local orders and bare-rooted for shipped orders. Bitterroot is quite slow-growing for its first few years of life.
- Max height: 6″
- Max spread: 6″
- Hardiness: USDA Zones 4-9
- Light: Full sun to part shade
- Water: natural rainfall is sufficient for this plant
- Soil: Well-drained, pH 5-7
- Wildlife: attracts pollinators