This species deserves a more interesting common name, because it is quite lovely, distinctive, and easy to grow. Purple clarkia is a sturdy annual plant with large leaves and larger flowers of a remarkable loveliness. Quite variable in appearance, it usually has subtly shaded markings from white to pale lilac to darker red, sometimes with defined white markings on a light purple background with paler tips. We have experienced good reseeding with this species. It is notable for the toughness of its seed capsules, which makes seed-cleaning an interesting challenge.
It is related to the more frequently seen winecup clarkia, Clarkia purpurea, which is smaller and not as showy. Purple clarkia grows about a foot tall and spreads equally wide, with a particularly gardenworthy habit that is neat and full. It is useful in the front of the flower border. We always look forward to the appearance of this species, and are making an effort to increase our seed grow-outs.
It is highly recommended for wildflower photographers, since purple clarkia is very photogenic. It blends beautifully with other clarkias. Blooms June-July. Its season can be extended easily by seeding into 4" pots and transplanting them into the garden at different times in the spring.