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