Trying Something New
I’m trying something new this year: Bush’s Poppy Mallow (Callirhoe bushii). This is a close relative of Wine Cups (C. involucrata), in fact it used to be considered a variety of that species. My understanding is that Wine Cups will spread out more expansively.
This is a sprawling plant that spreads out 2-3′. It’s filling in for the Geranium ‘Johnson’s Blue’ at the far end of the raised Driveway Border, which expired after many years of faithful service.
I did order more plants that strictly necessary, due to Prairie Moon’s diabolical practice of selling trays of 38 plants (mix and match!) for just $139. That’s less than $3.66 per plant (plus shipping)! Clearly, no responsible gardener could afford not to take advantage of this offer. At least it seemed clear at the time.
And so I ended up ordering a number of plants without a strictly definite idea of where I would put them. If you ask me where all these plants are now I will cough discretely and say something about the weather.
But the half dozen Poppy Mallows all ended up near the front in sunny spots where they could sprawl out onto a path or sidewalk.
Poppy Mallows have purple/magenta cup-shaped flowers that peak in early summer but are supposed to keep coming for the rest of the season. It’s beneficial for native bees, and a host plant for Gray Hairstreak butterflies.
Poppy Mallow is not a plant native to the Chicago area, but I think of it as an honorary native. Callirhoe bushii comes from neighboring Missouri, plus Arkansas and Oklahoma. It’s close cousin C. involucrata is native to several Midwestern states, including Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, and Michigan.
This is a plant that likes sun but tolerates a bit of shade. What it really wants is well-drained soil, which was a concern given the buckets of rain we’ve been getting this year. However, our Poppy Mallows seem to be slowly settling without signs of distress, in despite the cold and wet May.
Bush’s Poppy Mallow is a bit of an experiment for our garden. We’ll see how it does. But I do like to have some sprawling plants with bright flowers as part of the mix. What’s your favorite sprawling perennial?