What’s Blooming


What’s Blooming April 2018

Prairie Smoke – Geum triflorum


One of the first wildflowers to bloom in the Lewis and Clark Native Plant Garden is a low-growing plant in the rose family. Patches of fern-like leaves green up quickly in the spring, followed by a series of upright, mostly leafless stems that reach anywhere from a few inches to over a foot tall. Three bell-shaped flowers are borne atop each stem, which bend at the top to face the flowers downward.

Pink to red sepals and small, pointed bracts encase each of the flowers. The petals, which are white or light pink, are barely visible. After the flowers are pollinated, they turn to face upwards. The styles of the flowers persist and grow up to two inches long. They also become hairy, which gives the seed head a feathery appearance and explains one of the plant’s common names, old man’s whiskers.

Geum triflorum is widespread throughout western North America and occurs in dry to moist open areas in montane and subalpine regions. Where it is abundant, the collective seed heads create the appearance of a low-lying haze, hence its other common name, prairie smoke.

See prairie smoke blooming now in the Prairie Zone of Lewis and Clark Native Plant Garden.


Written by IBG collections curator, Daniel Murphy


Interested in Saving Seeds?

Here are some very basic seed saving tips!

Some of the easiest flowers to collect seeds from include:

  • Chocolate flower (Berlandieria lyrata)
  • Winecups (Callirhoe involucrata)
  • Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia sp.)
  • Coneflowers (Echinacea sp.)
  • Sunflowers (Helianthus annuus)

Be aware that there are many hybrid varieties of Black-eyed Susans, coneflowers, and sunflowers. If you save seed from a hybrid, it may be sterile, or the resulting plant may revert back to looking like one of the hybrid plant’s parents. You can save these seeds, but the plant you grow will be a surprise!

A couple of very easy herbs to save seed from include dill and cilantro.

1. Observe your plant and seed formation:

Don’t deadhead if you want to collect seed! Let the flower bloom and then go to seed. The best time to collect seed varies for each flower type, but you want to let the seeds dry on the plant as long as possible. Observe plants frequently and watch as seeds develop and ripen.

2. Collect your seed:

Shake the seed head over a paper bag to collect the seeds, or snip off the entire dried seed head and drop it into a labeled paper bag.

3. Clean your seed:

Some seeds fall freely from the seed heads or pods; others need to be rubbed to loosen them. Discard non-seed material.

4. Store your seed:

Don’t use plastic bags to store your seed long-term. Good choices for seed storage are small glass jars and envelopes. Whatever you use, label your seeds! Store your seeds in a cool place, like the refrigerator.


For more information on seed saving, check out:





Written by IBG


Nursery & Greenhouse Coordinator

Garden Tour Search Coordinator


What’s Blooming March 2018

Panchito Manzanita

Arctostaphylos x coloradensis


Panchito Manzanita ‘Arctostaphylos x coloradensis’


There is a plant for every season in our Plant Select Demonstration Garden. A few of the species found there, like the manzanitas, are even attractive year-round and worth visiting anytime. If there is a season you don’t want to miss them, though, it’s spring.

The Plant Select program (www.plantselect.org) has released three varieties of manzanita, two of which are found in our Demonstration Garden: Panchito and mock bearberry. Each are selections of Arctostaphylos x coloradensis, a naturally occurring hybrid between A. uva-ursi and A. patula. These manzanitas are low-growing, sprawling, evergreen shrubs that thrive in sun to partial shade. Their broad, glossy, deep green leaves and their reddish bark give them year-round interest.

In early spring they produce dozens of clusters of white and pink flowers. The flowers -characteristic of many plants in the heath family – are bell-shaped and hang from the tips of branches, calling out to early pollinators and other garden visitors.




Panchito Manzanita in bloom this March at the Idaho Botanical Garden.


Written by IBG collections curator, Daniel Murphy