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Mr. Smarty Plants - Need Advice on Rescuing Winecups in Hurst, Texas

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Thursday - February 03, 2011

From: Hurst, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Wildflowers
Title: Need Advice on Rescuing Winecups in Hurst, Texas
Answered by: Marilyn Kircus

QUESTION:

My grandmother's back yard used to be filled with the wild wine cup flowers, but they disappeared for years, due to (I think) flooding caused by runoff from housing development. Last spring I noticed a small patch and did not mow them hoping the patch would get a little bigger, which it did. I am concerned that the yard still floods a bit too much for them to thrive. How should I move them when they pop up again this spring? Dig them up,or wait for seeds and plant in small xeriscape wild flower and cactus bed in full sun?

ANSWER:

I love the idea of a xeriscape garden with succulents mixed with wildflowers.  You might want to start with the colors of the wine cups and then figure out what succulents  and other wildflowers would have complementary colors with them and thrive in the same dry, sunny conditions. Also think about having color for the middle of the summer when the wine cups will be dormant. There are several plants with "winecup" as the common name, we are going to guess that what you have is Callirhoe digitata (Finger poppy-mallow), which, although not native to North Central Texas, grows in nearby states or yours may be "escaped" plants that have come from another garden.

They have a carrot-like tuber that is a little hard to dig up.  But why don't you test a couple of plants.  If the soil is friable enough, and you dig deeply with a sharpshooter, you should get the whole plant.  Then plant them at the rate of one tuber per every two square feet. You can leave the rest and harvest the seeds or take cuttings.

The seeds apparently have two coats so may be difficult for you to treat. They have to be scarified.  And plants grown from seed take two years to bloom. But a very easy way for you to get a lot of new plants fast is to take cuttings early in the spring. You can take cuttings as early as February.  I use a mix of about half sphagnum moss and half perlite.  I wet it well, poke little holes with a pencil, about 2 inches apart.  Then I take the cuttings - 4 - 6 " should work, remove all but the top couple of leaves, dip in rooting hormone, and stick in the holes. Pat the soil closed, water with an liquid organic solution that contains seaweed (usually 1 TBL per gallon), then shut up in a white drawstring kitchen trash bag.  I use six inch high dishpans with holes melted or drilled in the bottom for drainage and they are really easy to manage and store between propagation times.  Then just check your plants each day and water when the substrate starts to dry. Keep them in the bag in shade until you see new growth.  Then uncover and gradually give more and more light. After another week or two, they will be ready to plant.  It is best to dig the tubers in fall or winter so you need to get going.

Among all these methods, you should soon have all the wine cups you want.

In case you haven't already planned for their companions, use the Recommended Plants List for North Central Texas  (find under Explore Plants)and looked for some succulents, grasses, and other wildflowers that will go well with the winecups. By following each link to our webpage on that plant, you will learn the appropriate light requirements, expected size, moisture needs, bloom time and so forth for each, choosing those that best meet your purposes.

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:


Callirhoe digitata


Callirhoe digitata


Callirhoe digitata


Callirhoe digitata

 

 

 

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