Toast to Winecups! (Callirhoe involucrata)

July 6, 2014 Panayoti Kelaidis , Senior Curator & Director of Outreach

Winecups 2 Winecups in Watersmart Garden

Strolling around York Street gardens this time of year, you are apt to see a bright rose red plant that resembles a geranium in many gardens. It is apt to be winecups (Callirhoe involucrata), a favorite of many staff and keen gardeners in the area. Not a geranium at all, this is in the Mallow family, and another common name is "Poppy Mallow", although it's no more a poppy than it is a geranium. It is a native plant found sparingly on the Great Plains east of Denver, more commonly in the Midwestern prairies. It is a stellar garden plant that will survive with no supplemental irrigation once established...I see it occasionally as I drive around Denver--but not nearly enough!

Winecups 3 Winecups in Highlands

Here is an amazing planting I found yesterday in Highlands neighborhood--easily ten feet across, completely filling one of those triangular hellstrip corners that are so often weed infested and neglected-looking (making neighborhoods look like slums). Here is a great alternative--a rock, a bit of Russian sage (Perovskia) and an exuberant mass of winecups blooming for months on end--all with no supplemental water!

winecups 4 A closer look

This mass is growing in part shade--and the mound is almost two feet tallk, as opposed to the first picture in this series taken at Denver Botanic Gardens, in full sun--well less than a foot tall. It does need some room to ramble--but almost everyone has a spot where this can flourish.

Callirhoe tenuissima 1Callirhoe involucrata v. tenuissima Not everyone likes the hot magenta of the typical form of this species: there is a lighter, more pink form of winecups that is found originally in Mexico--sometimes classed as var. tenuissima. It does have even more finely divided foliage and a neater habit and the flowers often have a striking white eye--here seen growing in the Rock Alpine Garden as it transitions to the Gates Garden in the west. I am especially fond of this form, first introduced to cultivation by Yucca-do a few decades ago.

Callirhoe tenuissima 2 Closeup of tenuissima.

You can see if you compare this with the next that var. tenuissima is quite different in effect. Come to think of it, I think I need both in my garden! And I wish we'd see it a lot more everywhere in town: one of the toughest and most beautiful native perennials!

Closeup of winecups Closeup of var. involucrata

Here is a closeup of the typical form for comparison with the one above--both are really stunning! For sale in better Garden Centers (forget the Box Stores when it comes to native plants)..can be planted any time--just make sure it doesn't dry out in the height of the summer until established!

Categories

Add new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
CAPTCHA
This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.

Sign up for our e-newsletters!

Subscribe