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Botanical Name Lewisia cotyledon 'Rainbow'
Common Name Rainbow bitterroot, Rainbow Lewisia, Siskiyou Lewisia, cliff maids
Plant Type Evergreen  perennial
Mature Size 8 inches tall (when in bloom), with a greater spread
Sun Exposure Partial sun to full sun
Soil Type Average fertility, excellent drainage
Soil pH Acidic to  neutral
Bloom Time April, May, and June
Flower Color Salmon, white, orange, pink, rose, or yellow
Hardiness Zones 5 to 8
Native Area Several western states of the U.S., and British Columbia in Canada

How to Grow Rainbow Lewisia

Give Rainbow bitterroot a soil that drains extremely sharply (sandy or pebbly soils work best). Having ground that drains well is very important, because crown rot is a pervasive problem with Lewisia, especially in cold weather. Its susceptibility to crown rot also means it is critical to ensure that the crown sits above ground level when you install the plant in the ground. Its habitat in the wild is scree, so it can survive in poor soils and makes a good rock garden plant.

You can further provide the drainage this perennial so craves by applying a gravel mulch around it. Some gardeners who grow the plant in a container set the pot on its side during the winter to avoid any buildup of excessive moisture around the crown. In terms of pest-control measures to take, you may have to kill slugs if you notice holes being chewed in the leaves.

After blooming, deadhead it to foster further flowering. You can also gain more plants after flowering is over as you would with hens and chicks (Sempervivum tectorum), separating the babies from the mother plant and transplanting them. 


Locate this perennial in full sun in the North (it can profit from some shade in the South).


Rainbow bitterroot needs an extremely well-drained soil.


Although Rainbow bitterroot plants are considered drought-tolerant perennials, it is still a good idea to provide them with water during hot weather (especially while they are flowering) if you are growing them in full sun. However, it is essential that their roots not be sitting in water during the winter (thus the need for sharp drainage).


Rainbow bitterroot has average fertility needs (for best flowering).


California’s varied climate can support a wide variety of plants from around the world. However, our state’s unique and beautiful native plants are often overlooked in garden design. Instead, water-intensive exotic plants that do not support the local ecology often taken the place of California native plants in people’s gardens.

You can enjoy many benefits while bringing in the beauty of California into your own garden by using water-wise native plants. Some of these benefits include:

Water Savings: A sustainably designed, drought-tolerant native garden can use 85 percent less water per year than a traditional landscape with turf and high-water use plants. Also, once native plants are planted, a well-designed drip irrigation system is more efficient than traditional sprayhead irrigation and saves watering costs. Once established, many California native plants need little additional watering beyond normal rainfall.

Maintenance Reduction: A water-wise California native garden can reduce maintenance dramatically once it is established. Eliminating the need for mowing and fertilizing lawns, applying pesticides and fertilizers, and frequently watering thirsty plants leaves you more time to enjoy your garden and other activities.

Wildlife and Biodiversity Increases: Adding native plants helps create functioning ecosystems in the garden by attracting the native insects and wildlife that depend upon these plants. Native plants and animals have developed relationships with each other, and research has shown that native wildlife prefers native plants over non-native plants. Native pollinators can improve fruit and vegetable production in your home garden, and beneficial native insects, reptiles, birds, and small mammals can manage pests such as mosquitos, ticks, and aphids.

Landfill Waste Reduction: The reduction in landscape maintenance, such as mowing a lawn, means that less green waste will be produced per year. Because many cities and homes are not set up for composting, most green waste is not composted. Gardening with native plants means less waste going into landfills.

Pesticide Use Reduction: Native plants have not only developed their own defenses against many pests and diseases, they can also attract beneficial insects and animals that attack pests. Reducing or eliminating pesticides keeps toxins out of our waterways and soil, improves environmental and human health, and allows natural and beneficial pest controllers to thrive.

Connection to a California Sense of Place is Enhanced: A garden planted with species unique to California creates a strong sense of place and helps connect you more deeply to the natural world. Including native plants in your garden connects you to the unique biological web created by the environmental history and culture of the land your home sits on. These small patches of habitat become part of a larger collective that nurtures and sustains a living landscape that not only enhances a sense of sanctuary for you, but for the plants, insects, birds, and other animals that have always lived there.


By gardening with native plants, you can enjoy many benefits – including water savings – while giving your home garden an appealing look that reflects California’s unique natural landscapes.


Growing Works is an innovative,  California native and drought tolerant plant nursery established to provide job training, employment, and horticultural therapy to people with mental health challenges.

The nursery helps fulfill an ever-present local need for high quality, drought-tolerant California native and Mediterranean plants and succulents.  Growing Works is based on a thriving and sustainable business model where plant sales, job training services, and donations from supporters contribute to its success.

Curbside Pickup or Local Delivery Only

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