Winecup Flowers – How to Grow & Care Callirhoe Involucrata

Callirhoe involucrata winecup purple poppy mallow

Winecup Flower (Callirhoe Involucrata) – Facts and General Description

Common names include Winecup flower, Winecups, Purple Poppy Mallow – Callirhoe Involucrata is a native perennial. It is a truly lovely ground cover that will give you a brilliant carpet of pink/purple flowers during late spring through early summer.  Winecups typically grow 6″ tall, and spread out in a 3′ diameter circle (1m) under full sun and good conditions.  It is drought tolerant, hardy to zone 4, and has a long blooming time.

The activity from bees/butterflies is excellent, and the flower is beautiful and interesting as it closes up at night.  And when I get around to making a rock wall, I will probably plant some of these beauties in it so they can drape over the side.  I have four (now 5) of these plants in my front flower bed in between our walkway and front porch, and several more in the backyard.

This plant is on the shorter side, not reaching more than 1′ tall, but will spread out in all directions if permitted to about a 3′ (1m) diameter.  When in full bloom, this is one of the most showy ground covers I have ever seen.  It is like a pink/magenta/purple carpet, that may raise itself up a bit if taller competition is too close.

Also, don’t forget to check out our handy quick reference table at the bottom of this post.  It summarizes all the ‘need to know’ info in a nice, concise way.

Bonus – Native Plant = Less Maintenance

Another benefit of this flower being native is that as long as you plant it in the conditions where it likes to grow (sun, not too wet) you shouldn’t have any issues with disease or bugs damaging it.  This is because it has evolved overtime to be resistant to those problems, making this flower very low maintenance.

How to Grow Purple Poppy Mallow / Winecup Flower

At the basic level, the Winecup Flower needs the following to thrive;

  • Full Sun
  • Moderately Moist to Dry soil that is well drained
  • Might need some protection from rabbits prior to becoming established

Watch this video to see some footage of Winecups, pollination, and how to plant the seeds!

Winecup Flower Reference Table:

Common NameWinecup / Purple Poppy Mallow
Scientific nameCallirhoe Involucrata
USDA Garden Zone4-10
Bloom TimeJune-July
Bloom Duration4-8 weeks
ColorPink / Magenta
Bloom Size1” diameter (25 mm)
CharacteristicsFlowers are shaped like wine cups, facing upright.  Hence, the common name.
Height0.5-1’ (15-30 cm)
Spacing/Spread3’ (1 m ) – flower will spread into a 3’ diameter circle groundcover
Light RequirementsFull Sun
Soil TypesAnything that is well drained
MaintenanceCan go dormant mid-season, but will restart
Typical UseGround cover, low borders, rock gardens, on top of rock walls
Fauna AssociationsBees and butterflies frequently visit.  Also, rabbits do enjoy eating it.
Larval HostGray Hairstreak
Sowing Depth1/8” (3 mm)
Stratification30 days cold/moist + Scarification
Native RangeWyoming-New Mexico, then East to Louisiana and North Illinois.  USDA lists it as native in other states around Mid-Atlantic region.
NotesThis is a wonderful plant for late spring/early summer color

Propagating Wine Cup Flowers

This plant has a taproot, making any kind of division extremely difficult if not impossible.  This also means that you can’t really transplant it easily, since the taproot might extend several feet down in the soil.

Propagation by cuttings

I’ve not tried to propagate this plant by cuttings.  But I have read from others who have done it successfully.  So, it is worth a shot to do this on an established plant.  However, the next method is very easy, growing Winecup flower from seed.

Growing Wine Cup Flower from seed

Callirhoe Involucrata may seem intimidating to grow from seed, but is actually pretty easy.  You must scarify, and stratify the seed in order to get a high germination rate.  Scarification is the process of ‘breaking’ the outer shell of the seed.  Most often you can use a bit of sand paper to wear away the outer coating.  But for this seed, the most effective way I have found is the hot water treatment.

Scarifying Winecup Flowers Seeds….

Callirhoe involucrata seeds soaking / Scarification
Callirhoe involucrata seeds soaking in hot water (Scarification)

This process may sound like a lot of work, but it is really simple.  All you do place a small amount of water in a coffee cup, and it really doesn’t need to be more than a cup.  It just has to be enough to submerge the seeds.  But, don’t add the seeds yet.  You then transfer the water to a small pot, and boil it.  While the water is heating up, put the seeds into the empty coffee cup.  Then, after the water has boiled, remove the pot from the heat.  Once it stops boiling, wait for about 10-20 seconds, then pour the water into the coffee cup with seeds.  Let this soak for 24 hours, as this process will ‘break’ the outer seed shell, and allow water to permeate it all the way through.

Winter Sowing Wine cup Flowers

Winecup Flowers needs to have a cold moist stratification period to ensure a high germination rate.  The easiest way to do this is winter sowing, where you basically plant the seeds outside in pots or some container, covered up to maintain moisture.  So now you just need to plant the seeds into a small pot, six pack, or whatever you wish to grow them in.  Then I plant them approximately 1/8” (3mm) deep, and then set outside in the Winter or early Spring, covered by a small plastic dome.  Since winter can be rough weather, I secure the dome both twine and duct tape. 

Callirhoe involucrata seedling
Callirhoe involucrata seedlings

Once the plants are outside, you just need to wait until the temperatures warm up.  If you suspect that it will get very warm, say 70F (18C) or more, then you may want to consider removing the dome that day, or moving the plant into the shade.  I must admit that I have had seedlings/seeds get ‘cooked’ by being in direct sunlight but protected by a dome.

Nursing the seedlings

Now depending on what container you have your seedlings in will determine when you need to transplant your seedlings to larger pots, or wait until you plant out in the ground.

Purchase Seed

We have ordered a variety of native flower seeds from Everwilde Farms, which you can order right from Amazon through our link on our RECOMMENDED PRODUCTS PAGE. (We may earn a small commission when you purchase through our links, at no cost to you. This helps support our website.)

 Winecup Flowers / Callirhoe involucrata

Growing conditions

This plant will thrive in full sun, with dry to medium soil.  The more sun it gets, the more blooms you will have!  It seems to be a very resilient and hardy plant.  I’ve not seen it suffer from any diseases or insects, but mainly from rabbits.  I protect mine from rabbits by using Liquid Fence, sprayed once per week until they are growing vigorously (or after a rain), and then once per month after that.  The taproot on this plant makes is very drought tolerant.  I’ve only grown mine in clay, and it hasn’t had any issues.

The thick tap-root of Callirhoe involucrata. This is of a second-year plant

I’ve had Purple Poppy Mallow go dormant in later summer (August) only to have it sprout back up.  I don’t know why this happens, but I guess it is just restarting its life cycle.  When it reemerges it stays evergreen over the winter.  But perhaps I will get a nice early spring and long summer and be able to have it bloom twice in one year! Although I am too far North to have it bloom a second time thus far. Other than that it is generally evergreen, even throughout the winter.

Faunal Associations for Winecups

Winecup Flowers are generally pollinated by bees.  The foliage is eaten by many animals though, so take precaution.  Spraying with liquid fence or some other repellent is effective, but you need to keep up with it.  Once the plant gets a bit larger in late Spring, I’ve found that they aren’t bothered by rabbits as much.  Still, I recommend growing more than a single specimen!

wine cup flower rabbit damage
Look closely and you can see the stems that have been eaten off by rabbits. I’ve found that they love eating the winecup flower – it seems to be one of their favorite foods in my garden!

In addition to rabbits, gophers and other rodents are known to eat the roots.  Also, studies have shown that certain birds such as Bobwhite Quail eat the seeds.

Typical Garden Uses / Companion Plants

This plant is perfectly suited to act as a ground cover.  It would probably be best to intersperse some small grasses (Blue Grama) for it to grow around, which I may add next year.  I have it planted as a ground cover border, leading up to the taller plants in my flower beds.  I think it would also look nice on slopes or rock walls.  Below is an image of our small front flower bed with a cascade of blooms, from tallest to shortest showing Purple Poppy Mallow blooming at the end of July, just prior to its short dormancy;

native plant flower bed
Blooming in this flower bed is Blazing Star (Liatris Spicata), Winecup Flower (Callirhoe Involucrata), Lanceleaf Coreopsis (Coreopsis lanceolata), Purple Coneflower (Echinacea Purpurea), Partridge Pea (Chamaecrista fasciculata), Cardinal Flower (Lobelia Cardinalis), and Great Blue Lobelia (Lobelia siphilitica). Also in the bed but not blooming is Blue False Indigo, Eastern Red Columbine, and New England Aster.

I have around six of these plants on the front border of our micro-prairie in our backyard.  This plant is great there, as it sprawls in all directions soaking up sun while staying low to the ground.  So, mixed with some shorter grasses it is perfect for a wildflower, or backyard micro-prairie.  See how to start your own micro prairie here.

One nice usage of Winecups flower is to have them trail down a rock wall, or in this case, a flowerbox. The blooms are beautiful as they spill over the side of this raised planter.

Choose companions that like the same conditions….

This plant would look nice growing next to many other native flowers, as long as the other native flowers weren’t too thick or overcrowd it.  Cardinal Flower and a couple of different Asters would be nice, as they would overlap the blooming period nicely, and keep the area interesting into Autumn.  The Asters in particular would be nice, since they can enjoy nearly identical conditions as the Winecup flower.

callirhoe involucrata, Heliopsis Helianthoides

I’ve seen it survive in ‘stiff’ competition from other plants, and still made a good display as it will climb or raise up against its competition.  But for this showy perennial to be fully appreciated it needs a bit of space of make its gorgeous carpet of pink/purple blooms.  Below is another shot of some Winecup Flower I have in the ‘meadow’ that we are currently, slowly building up.  It is going to be a border between our lawn and these taller Heliopsis False Sunflowers.

Winecup Flowers self-seeding

One thing to note about garden uses with any species of the Callirhoe genus – they will self-seed. Spent flowers will form seed heads containing roughly 10-20 seeds, and these will fall out in Winter. Many of these will germinate in mulched flower beds the following Spring.

Unwanted plants should be pulled or potted up for giving away. This task is not too burdensome, but you should expect to spend roughly 30-60 minutes doing it each Spring.

Are Winecup Flowers Edible or Medicinal?

I’ve read that the leaves and roots are edible, as well as the root.  Apparently the Native Americans used the root for a variety of medicinal purposes.  They would also use it as food during winter, and supposedly tastes like sweet potatoes.  They would make a tea to treat stomach/digestion issues, and possibly head colds.  However, I make no recommendation to use this plant for medicine and have never consumed it myself.  My policy is that if they don’t sell it at a pharmacy, don’t use it for medicine.  So – eat/consume at your own risk.

Callirhoe involucrata Winecup Purple Poppy Mallow
Winecup / Purple Poppy Mallow at dusk, with closed blooms
Callirhoe involucrata Seedlings
A few more Callirhoe seedlings. I love this winecup flower – a great ground cover that has a long bloom time!

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Joe Foster

Hi - I grew up outdoors in nature - hiking, fishing, hunting. In high school I got my first job at a garden center where I learned to garden and landscape. I've been growing plants from seed and designing native plant gardens for over 10 years. I hope to share some of my knowledge with you! You may have seen some of my videos I create on our YouTube channel, GrowitBuildit (more than 10 million views!). You can find my channel here: Additionally I am a wood worker / DIY enthusiast. I enjoy designing/building projects (with hand tools when I can!). I hope to give you some tips and useful information!

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