About Bitterroot: Said to be one of the rarest wildflowers in America, bitterroot was discovered by Lewis and Clark in what is now the state of Montana. The roots of this plant were once a valuable addition to the diet of Native American tribes such as Shoshone, Flathead, and Ktunaxa. In spite of its delicate beauty, this is a tough little plant that can live without water for more than a year and flourishes in poor, rocky soil. These qualities are reflected in the species name "rediviva," which means "brought back to life." The genus name Lewisia honors Meriwether Lewis, who recorded the first description of this plant in the early 19th century.
Bitterroot Germination: In late fall, prepare small well draining pots with sandy soil; place the seeds on the surface and sprinkle a very light covering of soil on top. Add a thin layer of tiny rocks or gravel to protect the seeds. As soon as temperatures consistently fall below 50 degrees F, keep the pots outdoors in full sun, watering them very sparingly or letting occasional rains moisten the soil. Alternatively, the seeds can be mixed with moist sand and refrigerated for 12-14 weeks, then planted in pots in late winter. The seeds should germinate soon after the period of cold temperatures.
Growing Bitterroot Seeds: In its first two or three seasons outdoors, this plant will develop its root system; keep in full sun, and remove competing weeds. Do not water unless the plant is in bloom, which usually begins in the third spring of development. After its growing and blooming season in early spring, the leaves will wilt and the plant will go dormant until fall. If transplanting is necessary, it should be done while the plant is dormant. The dormant plant needs full sun, hot temperatures, and dry soil until the moisture of fall and winter. Though it requires moisture while blooming, this plant tolerates drought extremely well at other times; too much moisture can easily cause rotting. This plant often flourishes in rock gardens or on poor, gravelly slopes.
Harvesting Bitterroot: These blossoms do not perform well as cut flowers, and are best enjoyed outdoors.
Saving Bitterroot Seeds: After blooming, this plant will develop seed pods. As soon as the papery pods dry completely, remove them and shake out the black seeds. Store the seeds in a cool, dry place.
Detailed Bitterroot Info: Origin: US Native Wildflower Other Common Names: Oregon Bitter-root, Sand Rose, Resurrection Flower Duration: Perennial Bloom Time: Spring Height: 3-5 inches Spacing: 4-6 inches Light: Part Shade Soil Moisture: Medium USDA Zone: 3a-7b Seeds Per Oz: 21,000 Produces narrow, succulent leaves and 2" flowers that vary in color from white to pink.