As soon as temperatures begin to rise at the start of summer, godetia flowers come into their peak, living up to the plant’s nickname of farewell to spring. This plant has been reclassified into the genus Clarkia, a name that references Corps of Discovery expedition leader William Clark, who noticed them growing in alpine meadows in California and the Pacific Northwest. He collected seeds to share and now you can grow them in your garden, too.
Depending on the species, godetia's papery flowers emerge in clusters on the tips of stems or along the length at each node. These flowers tend to have four petals that open to form a cup-shape saucer that closes at night. They can be found in shimmering pinks as well as white, coral, and salmon. Many varieties also feature intricate petal markings, such as blotches or rims of pale shades.
Godetia Care Must-Knows
Although seldom sold as plants at garden centers, godetias are easy to start from seed and blossom in 30 to 60 days. Sow seeds directly where you want the plants (they don't transplant well), and don't cover them with soil because they actually need light to germinate. If you do want to start them indoors, sow them in compostable pots to avoid disturbing the roots as much as possible and sow 6-8 weeks before your area's last frost date.
Because they are native to coastal mountains that typically have rocky soils, godeitas prefer well-drained soil. When young, they benefit from supplemental watering. But they are drought-tolerant once established so they work well in rock gardens or other dry areas. They are prone to rot in wet soils.
Although godetias tolerate a bit of shade, they perform best in full sun. Otherwise they tend to flop over, especially taller varieties grown for cut flowers. When grown in southern or warm climates, godetias may struggle through the heat and humidity, so try planting them in part shade to help extend their bloom time, but plant them close together or with other plants they can lean on for support.
Because godetias grow so well from seed, you will often find that they reseed themselves in the garden year after year. Sometimes this seeding can be vigorous and require thinning. If you want to prevent reseeding, deadhead flowers as soon as flowering is finished.