(This is a native of our Western States and was first found by members of the Lewis-Clark Expedition. It was consequently named for Captain Wm. Clark)
These lovely annuals are becoming better known each year. Two species are commonly cataloged: Clarkia elegans and C. pulchella. In the latter species the petals are three-lobed at the tips. The flowers are single and double and range from deep rose through lilac and light pink to white. An outstanding characteristic is the drooping buds before they open and the fact that single blooms normally have four petals. The plants rarely grow over 2 feet tall, but bloom from July to October.
Where to Plant. Clarkias are excellent for the annual border and for hanging baskets, but are adapted to the cooler regions of the United States. The stems are wiry and slender so that the plants are inclined to be almost prostrate unless they are staked. Cut just before they bloom, the flowers open nicely in water. Helen R. Albee in Hardy Plants for Collage Gardens, accurately describes the appearance of the double varieties when she writes that they resemble sprays of Flowering Almond. Clarkias are often forced in the greenhouse as pot subjects or as cut flowers.
GENERAL. As Clarkias are hardy, sow the seeds out of doors early in the Spring. They thrive best on the sandier soils in either full sun or partial shade. Allow 7 inches to 9 inches between plants. If the seedlings are crowded, they are inclined to damp-off readily. Some advise sowing in August and September and protecting the plants with leaves over Winter.