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Lewisia pygmaea

Pronunciation: loo-IS-ee-a pig-MEE-a
Family: Portulacaceae
Common Name: Bitter Root
Plant Type:
  • perennial
Height to: 3in (8cm)
Width to: 3in (8cm)
USDA Hardiness Zones:
  • -20 to -30ºF ZONE 4
  • -10 to -20ºF ZONE 5
  • 0 to -10ºF ZONE 6
  • 10 to 0ºF ZONE 7
Sun Exposure:
  • part sun
  • full sun
Bloom Season:
  • early summer
  • mid summer
  • late summer
Bloom Description: Bitter Root (Lewisia pygmaea) bears cymes of 1-7 funnel shaped, deep purplish pink, occasionally white or pale pink flowers, 1/2 to 3/4in (1.5-2cm) across.
Soil Type: Moderately fertile, humus rich, sharply drained, neutral to acidic soil
Pests and Diseases: Rust, stem rot, snails, slugs, aphids and mealybugs
Propagation: Sow Bitter Root (Lewisia pygmaea) seed in containers in cold frame in autumn.
Native to: Canada, Alaska to New Mexico
Winter Sowing Zones: 4-7
Notes for Identification:

Bitter Root (Lewisia pygmaea) is a deciduous perennial with tufts of fleshy, narrow, linear basal leaves grow in small clumps. Delicate flowers emerge and bloom in mid-May, lasting for about a month.

Plant Form or Habit: cushion mound or small clump

Plant Use: Rock gardens.


Water Requirements: low

Additional Comments: Bitter Root (Lewisia pygmaea) leaves are longer than flower stems. Our large-chipped mulch dwarfed the L. pygmaea and we had to be careful that it didn't cover it up completely. Excellent drainage is imperative. Named after Captain Merriwether Lewis, explorer of Lewis and Clark fame. Native to the Northwest. Uncommon but not hard to grow in the Northeast given good drainage.

Source: Various sources including, Texas A&M, The American Horticultural Society A to Z Encyclopedia of Garden Plants and the USDA


USDA Heat Zones (days above 86ºF):
  • Less then 1 day ZONE 1
  • 1 to 7 days ZONE 2
  • 7 to 14 days ZONE 3
  • 14 to 30 days ZONE 4
  • 30 to 45 days ZONE 5
  • 45 to 60 days ZONE 6
  • 60 to 90 days ZONE 7
Seed photo: 0
Located in: Perennials
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