How to Grow Clarkia Wildflowers

Sally Painter
Clarkia in the flower bed

You can learn how to grow the Western North American Clarkia wildflower for a great addition to your wildflower garden. This annual flower can be grown in regions across the United States.

Easy Tips on How to Grow Clarkia Wildflowers

Whether you're planting a new wildflower garden or looking to add another flower variety to an existing garden, a few easy tips ensure successful plantings. It's always best to check with your state agriculture department when planting any non-native species, although most states are friendly for Clarkia wildflowers plants. Some state DOT (Department of Transportation) departments have a wildflower roadside beautification program and provide information about the plants they plant.

Best Zones for Growing Clarkia Wildflowers

Clarkia wildflowers can grow in arid climates and seasides as well as woodlands and open plains. This makes the flower versatile to different USDA Hardiness Zones. Everwilde Farms Inc states Clarkia wildflowers can be grown in many zones that include Zones 3 through 12. Always check on seed packets and/or websites to verify your zone is suitable for this plant.

When and How to Sow Seeds

The best time to sow Clarkia wildflower seeds is right after the last spring frost. Some seed companies suggest planting in late fall. If your area has mild winters, then fall might be your planting time choice. A few quick facts about planting this colorful wildflower include:

  • It's best to direct sow the seeds instead of growing indoors and transplanting (more loss with transplants).
  • Choose a sunny, well-drained area for your planting.
  • Direct sow Clarkia seeds for best results via surface broadcast method (spread over ground and uncovered).
  • Germination requires 7-10 days.
  • Soil must be kept moist until first seed leaves emerge.
  • Thin plants to 9" to 12" apart once second set of flower leaves emerge.
  • Keep garden weed-free to encourage flower growth.
  • To attract pollinators plant Clarkia seeds in an area three to six feet wide.
Clarkia elegans in full bloom

Where to Plant Clarkia Seeds

You want to select an open sunny area to establish in your existing or new wildflower bed. Some choice locations include open meadows/fields, along the edge of woods and garden borders. Clarkia wildflowers are an excellent cutting flower choice and will add dimension to a cottage garden. You can also use Clarkia in container gardens that need a taller flower variety.

Sun Requirements

Although some Clarkia wildflowers will grow in light shaded areas, your best results are in open sunny areas. These plants require a minimum of six hours of full sunlight but prefer more.

Type of Soil Required

You want a soil that drains well, since this flower doesn't have wet feet. Clarkia grows well in sandy soils, tolerating the coastal salt environments. It also thrives in well-drained clay soils and any dry soil that doesn't retain a lot of water.

Clarkia Wildflowers Need Little Water

You need to provide adequate water until the plants are well established and start to bloom. This usually takes about 90 days. Once the first blooms open, you can stop watering since this wildflower is drought resistant and thrives with little to no water.

Colorful wildflower mixture

Fertilize When Blooms Appear

You can fertilize lightly at the first signs of blooms. However, you want to avoid over fertilizing since these wildflowers are used to surviving in an arid climate as well as seaside. Too much fertilizing will result in leggy, leafy plants with little to no blooms.

Deadhead to Prevent Volunteer Plants

To encourage your plants to continue to produce blooms, you need to deadhead. If you wish the garden to self-sow, then you can leave the deadheads at the end of the season and enjoy a renewed garden next season.

How to Harvest Clarkia Wildflower Seeds

You can harvest Clarkia seeds at the end of the growing season. Leave the seed pods to dry on the plant. Set up a protected area to prevent seeds from accidentally spreading into other areas of your garden. Crack open the pods to collect the seeds. Store the seeds until next spring in a cool and dry area.

How to Determine Seed Quality

All things being equal, you can easily determine the quality of the seeds you planted by the germination ratio and bloom production. If you followed all planting guidelines and your germination ratio was low, you'll want to find a different supplier. You can read reviews to help you determine if the seed quality is good.

Physical Appearance of Quality Seeds

You want seeds that have a uniform size. Irregular sizes indicate poor seed collection quality. The color of the seeds should be consistent. Another negative indicator is finding debris in the seeds, such as pieces of stems, dust and pod shards. Avoid planting any seeds that are molded or deformed.

A heap of quality seeds of clarkia flower

Clarkia Wildflower Description

The Clarkia is part of the evening primrose family (Onagraceae). This native Western North American wildflower can grow between 12" to 3' tall. Its stems are sturdy and upright and can be simple or branched, allowing the plant to spread out.

  • The lance-shaped leaves are between 1"-3" long in gray-green or blue-green colors, although lower stem leaves tend to be reddish tinged.
  • Flowers bloom from late spring to mid-summer.
  • The 1 ½" long, cup-like flowers typically have four petals and range in colors from pale pink to dark red. Some varieties produce lavender colors. Varieties include streaked centers in darker colors, such as crimson and purple.
Pink Clarkia Flowers

Interesting Clarkia Wildflower Tidbits

A few Clarkia wildflowers facts are interesting tidbits of history. You can share these as icebreakers when meeting other wildflower gardeners.

  • According to the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture), the Sierra Miwok Tribe of California crushed Clarkia amoena seeds into a seed meal that they used as a food source.
  • The flower was named in honor of William Clark of the Lewis & Clark Expedition.
  • The clarkia grows wild in California and is a popular flower grown all along the Pacific coast to British Columbia. Also known as Farewell to Spring, since it is one of the last spring season flowers to bloom.

Learning How to Grow Clarkia Wildflowers

Once you learn what type of soil, water and location Clarkia wildflowers require, you can begin planning your garden space. Be sure to follow the information the seed supplier provides for the best blooming results.

How to Grow Clarkia Wildflowers