Thursday’s Feature: Standing Cypress

It’s Thursday and that means joining up with Kimberley of Cosmos and Cleome to take a closer look at something which caught your eye in the garden this week.  Hopefully you’re ready for color because his week the bright red of standing cypress (Ipomopsis rubra) is our subject.

Ipomopsis Rubra

Ipomopsis rubra close up.  Love the speckles and the intense scarlet color.  Bright red is what you need this time of year to stand up to the strong summer sun.

Standing cypress is a showy wildflower native to southeastern North America and just one of many garden-worthy Ipomopsis which can be found across the Americas (at least they look garden worthy, this is the only one I’ve ever grown).  These members of the phlox family are tough, drought resistant, and easy to grow and I’m surprised they’re not seen more often.  This is one plant which didn’t even blink when the rain stopped and its neighbors curled up into a drought induced fetal position.

Ipomopsis Rubra

Ipomopsis Rubra has a habit which I would call “lax”.  At anywhere from two to five feet tall they don’t typically flop, but they lean and stretch and carry so many blooms and seed pods that understandably it can get heavy for a little plant.

It took me years to finally find seed but admittedly I wasn’t out there every week trying to run down new sources.  I received my seed via the Mid Atlantic Hardy Plant Society seed exchange but now I’ve been seeing them more frequently sold in wildflower mixes or for hummingbird plantings.  The mix I planted was supposed to show a blend of red to oranges to yellows, but the speckled scarlet color is the only one I’ve seen come up.

Ipomopsis Rubra

The tubular flower shape and bright red color of these blooms has ‘hummingbird flower’ written all over it, and sure enough I often see hummers flying by for a meal.

It’s my suspicion that the natural variation across this species makes for different growing habits based on where one gets their seed from.  My plants which have been selfseeding around for several years now seem to be strictly annuals but from what I found they also grow as biennials and short lived perennials in areas across the United States as far up as zone 4.  Since mine have never overwintered I’m thinking it’s an annual form I’m growing.

Other confusing comments on this plant include it having a taproot (mine don’t) and it needing sandy or gravelly, well drained soil (mine tolerate heavier soil) in order to do well.  I suspect some of this is from people who’s knowledge is based less on experience and more on internet searches, but since I’m not a botanist either I’ll let you decide.

Ipomopsis Rubra

The ferny basal rosettes of standing cypress will pop up in any barren, neglected area which grows weeds well.  They do not compete against more perennial plantings, but in disturbed soil they can make a quick show before other opportunists jump in.

The hummingbirds and I will enjoy the blooms of this wildflower for several weeks now and when things slow down I’ll just trim off the upper end of the stalk and the smaller side shoots should carry on for a few more weeks.

Standing cypress.  Consider it.  If your garden can handle a shot of red I think you’ll enjoy it, and I also think you’ll enjoy giving Cosmos and Cleome a visit to see what Kimberley and others bloggers are featuring this week.  Enjoy!

17 comments on “Thursday’s Feature: Standing Cypress

  1. I may have come across this plant before but not so that it stuck in my mind, so I consider that you have introduced me to a new plant. Thank you!

    • bittster says:

      I’ll count that as a new plant intro 😉
      I’m often amazed by how many new plants there still are out there, and even the number of natives out west that I’ve never even heard of is astounding!

  2. That’s gorgeous, Frank! Might look nice in the tropical garden, I think! Thanks for continuing to participate in this, despite my tardiness in getting my own posts up each week! I may be beginning to rethink the wisdom in starting a weekly meme! It seemed like a good idea . . . (Don’t worry, I won’t quit until the evil F word befalls us, but I can’t say I’ll resume it next year!)

    • bittster says:

      Haha, take your time! I’m actually a little shocked I’ve been able to keep up… as long as you don’t count the vacation breaks. Thursday rolls around real quick each week when you’re running around with other things. Still it’s fun, so no worries, but please don’t even consider the F word yet!
      There’s been a bunch of fill dumped next door and I think once I spread it out there will be some standing cypress seeded over!

  3. pbmgarden says:

    Have never seen this. Beautiful flowers and color.

  4. This is beautiful! I can’t believe I’ve never heard of it!

    • bittster says:

      Isn’t it nice to get a surprise every now and then? I saw there are a few other species, and they’re all attractive. I might have to do a little sourcing!

  5. Cathy says:

    A lovely splash of colour, and such pretty flowers. Sounds like an easy-to care-for plant too. Things don’t set seed in my garden too well, or probably the slugs eat what does germinate, so you are lucky to have this return every year.

    • bittster says:

      It has been vey easy for me, but there are so many empty spots as things die and mulch breaks down 🙂
      I guess you need a borderline wasteland in order for it to flourish!

  6. What an unusual and gorgeous plant. Looks like it should be more widely available. Maybe a good plant for containers?

    • bittster says:

      I’m sure it can be fit into a container here and there, it would make for a nice addition to a hummingbird planter alongside your cupheas. I suppose it doesn’t bloom early enough in a pot to sell well next to the petunias…

  7. Annette says:

    Wow, didn’t know that one, Frank, and it would look so cool in my new tropical border!

  8. Peter/Outlaw says:

    This is a new-to-me plant. I love red and will look for seeds. Thanks!

    • bittster says:

      There are a few other species of Ipomopsis which are from your end of the world as well, I wonder if they’re hiding just around the corner and you don’t even know it!

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