Incarvillea mairei

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Robert Pavlis

Incarvillea mairei:photo by Robert Pavlis

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.

Soil Science for Gardeners book by Robert Pavlis

Incarvillea mairei (in-kar-VIL-ee-uh  MAIR-ay)

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

Cultivation of Incarvillea mairei:

Light: part shade to full sun

Soil: well drained

Water: average to dry

USDA Hardiness Zone: 3- 9

Propagation: seed, division

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Robert Pavlis

I have been gardening my whole life and have a science background. Besides writing and speaking about gardening, I own and operate a 6 acre private garden called Aspen Grove Gardens which now has over 3,000 perennials, grasses, shrubs and trees. Yes--I am a plantaholic!

2 thoughts on “Incarvillea mairei”

  1. we had some type of incarvillia years a go but it only lasted 2 years. it was quite pretty. I live in Newmarket area so we are a zone 5 at a push. We usually buy plants that are a 4 or 3 just to be on the safe side. Many plants sold here for zone 5 do not survive the winters unless in a really sheltered spot.
    Of course each individual freeze and thaw sets us up for disaster like last spring . When the thaw came some of the grasses were ok but then we had a snow storm after that and a real hard freeze and the grasses up and died.

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