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Genus: Lewisia

Lewisia Species in
Family: Portulacaceae

About 20 small perennials from northwestern North America. They are divided into two main groups, evergreen and summer deciduous. All species have a caudex. In the deciduous species the leaves are small and neat but many of the evergreen sorts have very large, ovate to spoon-shaped ones; all are succulent to some degree. In the deciduous species all leaves shrivel away at or immediately after flowering, new growth appearing with the autumn rains. The flowers have five to nine petals and are solitary or borne in panicles: a few are sessile. The colours range from white through all shades of pink to crimson and yellow, through to orange in cultivated forms of L. cotyledon and L. tweedyi.


All are hardy to cold but need careful management with watering. The deciduous species have to be dry in summer and the evergreen species can easily be overwatered in hot weather, the thickened caudex acting as a water store for plants that are accustomed to hot, dry summers. They make superb subjects for the alpine house in neutral to acid, gritty soil. Most set good seed which is black and shiny and ripens very quickly after flowering. Seed, sown in the autumn, must have a cold period and often germinates over winter. The deciduous species should be left in their seed pots until the following year before moving. The evergreen sorts should be pricked out as soon as the first two true leaves appear and potted-on two to three times in their first summer. The evergreen species also make offsets that can be removed with a sharp knife in late winter to early spring and will root in pure sharp sand in about six weeks.

(D) = deciduous, (E) = evergreen, (DE) = semi-evergreen