Plant of the Month for November, 2019

incarvillea mairei header
Incarvillea mairei

 (in-kar-VIL-ee-uh  MAIR-ay)

General Information:

Incarvillea mairei, looks very tropical with its large pink flowers. It's hard to believe that such a plant is hardy to zone 3.

Incarvillea mairei: photo by Robert Pavlis

Incarvillea mairei:photo by Robert Pavlis

Known as the dwarf hardy gloxinia, flowering fern or Chinese trumpet flower, it is more compact than other Incarvillea species and seems to be longer lived. I’ve grown several Incarvillea species from seed in zone 5 and most only last a few years. This one has been in the garden for at least 5 years. In colder climates it takes 2 years to flower from seed.

Grows well in full sun, but some reports suggest it might do better in part shade with more moisture. 

As far as I can tell it is not available as an alba form, although alba seeds are sometimes offered for sale. These will be either I. delavayi or a hybrid. 

Incarvillea mairei: photo by Robert Pavlis

Incarvillea mairei:photo by Robert Pavlis

The plant forms a cigar shaped tuber and is occasionally sold as a dry tuber. Plant it with the eye up and the pointy end down, but if you can’t tell which end is up, just plant it horizontally about 3” below soil level.

Life Cycle: perennial

Height: 30cm (12in)

Bloom Time: early summer

Natural Range: SW China to Nepal 2400-4500 m

Habitat: sunny dry slopes

Synonyms:  Incarvillea compacta, Incarvillea grandiflora, Incarvillea racemose, Tecoma mairei


Light: part shade to full sun

Soil: well drained

Water: average to dry

USDA Hardiness Zone: 39

Propagation: seed, division

Seedex availability (ORG&HPS annual Seed Exchange): common

Sow @ 20°C. Seed germinates within 3 months.
Incarvillea mairei with Dodecatheon meadia MIDD 2014
Robert Pavlis