Godetia Plant Profile

How to Grow and Care for Satin Flower (Clarkia)

Godetia in bloom

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"Godetia" is the older genus name for the satin flower. A member of the evening primrose family (Onagraceae), Godetia is related not only to evening primrose flower (Oenothera) but also to Fuchsia, the plant so popular for hanging baskets. Some gardeners value the plant as much for its celebration of an important event in American history as for its beauty, which is considerable.

Botanical Name Clarkia amoena; formerly, Godetia amoena
Common Name Satin flower, farewell-to-spring
Plant Type Annual
Mature Size 2 to 2.5 feet tall, with a spread of up to one foot
Sun Exposure Full sun to partial shade
Soil Type Average to low fertility needs, average to low moisture levels, well-drained
Soil pH Neutral
Bloom Time June to July
Flower Color Lavender, pink, red, salmon, or white
Hardiness Zones 3 to 7
Native Area West Coast of North America

How to Grow Godetia

If you wish to try to grow Godetia from seed, sow the seed indoors 6 to 8 weeks prior to the last frost date listed for your region. You can also sow the seed directly in your flower bed once the soil can be worked in spring. Once you have Godetia established in your yard, you probably will not have to sow seed for it again, because the plant reseeds.

Once your Godetia achieves some height, pinch out the center. This will help the plant bloom better and keep it more compact.

Because Godetia can be plagued by powdery mildew, be sure to provide adequate spacing between the plants. As a fungal disease, powdery mildew on plants is reduced when air circulation is increased. The plant can also get aphids and mites; if you see either of these pests on the leaves, spray them with neem oil.

The plants are tall enough that they may need staking, especially if you just grow one here and one there and if your garden is subject to high winds. You can avoid having to stake them by growing the plants in a mass: They will support each other.

Deer pests do not bother the plant, but, happily, butterflies and bees are drawn to it.

Light

Grow Godetia in full sun unless you garden in a hot area with lots of humidity (in which case the plant can profit from some shade).

Soil

The most important soil requirement for Godetia is good drainage.

Water

Godetia is drought-tolerant once established, but you should water the young plants during dry spells. You can also extend flower life by making sure that this annual is adequately watered prior to its period of bloom.

Fertilizer

Occasionally work compost into the ground around the plant. This serves as sufficient fertilizing for Godetia, which is not a heavy feeder.

Origin of the Names

The common name of "satin flower" comes from the fact that the flowers feel like crepe paper. The plant is not alone in this regard: Bougainvillea, poppy (Papaver spp.), and the aptly named "crepe myrtle" (Lagerstroemia spp.) also have flowers with this texture. Meanwhile, the plant is named "farewell-to-spring" because it does not like hot and humid summer weather; this cool-season annual puts on most of its growth in spring.

The botanical names for the plant have even more interesting sources. Initially, the genus was called "Godetia" in reference to a 19th-century Swiss botanist named Charles Henry Godet. The genus name was later changed to "Clarkia" to honor William Clark of the famous Lewis and Clark Expedition. Finally, amoena, the species name, means "beautiful" or "pleasing."

What Godetia Looks Like

Beyond their inviting texture, the flowers of Godetia have a pleasing appearance. They are scoop-shaped, with four petals, and measure 2 to 3 inches across. Each petal sometimes bears a blotch at its base, as with Oriental poppy (Papaver orientale). The leaves are sword-shaped and up to two and a half inches long. There are different cultivars, offering, among other features, different sizes and a choice between single and double flowers.

Uses for Godetia

Godetia has a number of uses. The stems are sturdy enough for cutting: Bring some indoors and arrange them in a vase. Outdoor uses include: