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Commonly known as cliff maids or Siskiyou lewisia, Lewisia cotyledon is a species of flowering plant that belongs to the purslane family. Although native to the western part of North America, these evergreen perennials are often grown by gardeners for their beautiful flowers, which can bloom in a variety of colors. While they can be difficult to get started, once established the Lewisia cotyledon is considered to be low maintenance.
Lewisia cotyledon can be found growing in areas of northern California, southern Oregon, and southwestern Canada. They are often found decorating cliffs and mountainsides. Like most species of Lewisias, they seem to prefer rocky ground and crevices. It is believed that the reason it grows from crevices is to keep its thick roots cool while the foliage and flowers are exposed to the hot sun.
The leaves of the Lewisia cotyledon are generally oval or club shaped and spread out on the ground in rosettes. They are thick and often described as fleshy, and they are a dark, glossy green. While it is classified as an evergreen plant, during periods of extreme cold or heat, these plants will often display deciduous tendencies, dropping their leaves until the weather improves.
During the spring, long slender stems will shoot up from the leafy rosettes, bringing the height of this plant to roughly 1 foot (30.5 centimeters). Showy flowers roughly 1 inch (2.5 centimeters) across will then bloom until late summer to early fall. Plants that are found growing wild often have red or pink stripes on the petals, and hybrids of this variety have been created with an impressive array of different colored blooms. These flowers can be a number of colors, but they are generally white, cream, pink, or yellow. Flowers of the Lewisia cotyledon are generally quite long lasting, and certain varieties of hybrids have been known to bloom up to four times each season, if well taken care of.
Many gardeners plant these flowers in rock walls and gardens. Lewisia coytledon prefers semi-dry soil, and once it begins growing well it only needs to be watered occasionally. Over watering these plants can cause problems, such as root rot. This plant is also not very picky when it comes to light requirements, and it can be grown in full to partial sun. During the hot summer months, however, it does require shading from the hot afternoon sun.
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