Recent strides made in the artificial flower industry are truly remarkable and I have been fooled more than once, mistaking fake flora for the real thing. Recently I came upon a Godetia that did not look real. I had to touch its petals several times to make sure it wasn’t a silk imitation. It's silky, satiny petals are gorgeous and hence it is sometimes called the Satin Flower or Silk Flower.
This under-appreciated annual bears the most beautiful, satiny flowers for weeks in summer. It also goes by the charming name of Farewell to Spring, because it blooms just as spring temperatures are rising. Plant it once and you won't want to go a growing season without it.
Godetia grandiflora 'Duchess of Albany' produces single white satiny, cup-shaped blooms that cluster atop 45cm (18in) stems. Long and narrow, pointed buds split open from near the top third of the stem and open upward to create a short spike with many blooms fluttering at the top.
The showy 7 to 10cm (3 to 4in) white blooms are perfect for use as a cut flower and are very popular for wedding bouquets. The petals appear very delicate, they are sheer and almost translucent with a remarkable silky softness yet are quite durable and hardy.
Sowing: Spring or Autumn.
Godetia seeds are best sown directly into a prepared bed in the garden in spring, March, April or May. It you wish to get flowers a little earlier, they can also be started indoors four to six weeks before the last frost date in your area.
Autumn, September to October sowings will flower the following year, often earlier than spring sowings. The plants grow quickly, blooming thirty to sixty days after the seed is sown.
Sow outdoors, March to May or September-October, directly where they are to flower. Sow outdoors only after all danger of frost is past.
Select a sunny or lightly shaded location with moderately rich, well drained soil and cultivate the soil, removing any weeds or stones. Make a shallow drill and water the area thoroughly. Sow your seeds thinly, about 0.5cm (¼in) deep. Cover lightly with finely tilled soil.
Seedlings usually appear in 14 to 28 days. Thin seedlings to 20cm (8in) apart. For a longer display, make a later second sowing. Water well and keep the area moist but not soggy until the plants are established.
Whenever growing Godetia in humid and moist positions allow plenty of room between plants and encourage maximum air circulation. Remember that sowings made in curves, rather than straight lines, often create a more pleasing and more natural effect.
In areas that experience cold winters that would kill tender young seedlings, Godetia can also be sown in autumn or early spring under glass. Sow the seed thinly in individual containers under glass or in a very bright and sheltered position and transplant outdoors once all danger of severe frost has passed.
Be very careful to avoid significant root disturbance which will set the plants back or cause them to fail outright.
Godetia require little attention. Water the seedlings well until established, once they are established the plants will thrive on very little water. The plants do not need fertilising, if it has too many nutrients, it will grow lots of foliage and fewer flowers.
Some of the tall varieties may need to be staked, use a twiggy branch for an inconspicuous support.
Deadhead the plants to prolong flowering. If seed is to be collected, allow some heads to go to seed.
Beds, borders, patio containers and cut flowers. Wildlife gardens. Deer and rabbit resistant.
Godetias are wonderful if short-lived feature plants for larger containers, landscape planters, raised beds, tubs, terraces and also along coastal sites, roadways and sloping positions where many other plants fail.
Godetia makes a great cut flower. They are often grown in the cutting garden and are a go-to variety for wedding bouquets.
Foliage should be removed from the lower third of the bunch.
Under favourable conditions, the plants will self-sow in the garden. Remember that if you allow them to reseed, you will likely need to thin new plants in the spring.
After all blooming is finished the seed pods begin to develop. To collect the seed, let the pods mature and dry on the plant until they start to open. Once the pods are dry, pinch them off the plant, twist the pods open and the tiny seeds will sprinkle out into a dish.
Clean chaff from the seed and store in a paper bag for next year, when you can watch something grow all over again.
Remember to label and date the bag.
The Godetias include at least 25 species, plus many hybrids of these near-arid and desert Annuals native to North America’s West Coast.
The species are found growing wild from California to British Columbia mostly on hilly coastlines, mountain slopes and drier, sunny and well drained arid regions. In such places they often blanket the fields and slopes with vivid colour.
Today the hybrids produced from the original most variable Clarkia species wildflowers have been altered to such a degree that they are now classified as distinctly different species known as Clarkia and Godetia. So, in today’s ‘modern’ garden world we now have Godetia grandiflora, the Satin Flower, and its many variable hybrids. Garden Clarkia and upward of 40 closely related species all classified as ‘Clarkia’ which have advanced from a common ancestry.
The garden Clarkia is now a branching form with somewhat more diminutive flowers appearing up a branching stem in single and double forms. While Godetia grandiflora is now the much more spectacular upward-facing Satin flower in a wide variety of flowering colours and forms.
Godetia is named for a Swiss botanist by the name of Charles Henry Godet, who lived over 200 years ago.
Their original botanical name and the wild species still cultivated today, Clarkia, was named in honour of Captain William Clark of the Lewis and Clark Expeditions that explored and opened settlement in Western North America. Together with Meriwether Lewis, they explored what would become the Western United States. These pretty wildflowers were first viewed there were they blanketed the landscape in spectacular ‘satin’ fields.
As the name implies, grandiflora means large-flowered, it has larger flowers in comparison with other species.
Commonly called 'The Satin Flower' or 'Silk Flower', due to the texture and appearance of the petals, another name for Godetia is 'Farewell to Spring'. This name is not strictly related to the time of year Godetia blooms but rather to the first days of warmer weather.
- Additional Information
Packet Size 1 gram Average Seed Count 1,600 Seeds Seed Form Natural Seeds per gram 1,600 seeds per gram Family Onagraceae Genus Godetia Species grandiflora Cultivar Duchess of Albany Synonym Eucharidium, Clarkia amoena ssp lindleyi Common Name Clarkia, Farewell to Spring Other Common Names The Satin Flower or Silk Flower Hardiness Hardy Annual Hardy Hardy to minus 5°C (23°F) Flowers Single white satiny blooms Natural Flower Time April to August Foliage Mid Green Height 45cm (18in) Spread 40cm (16in) Spacing 20cm (8in) apart. Position Full sun for best flowering Soil Average to rich soil Time to Sow March to April outdoors or August to November indoors