Bitterroot (Lewisia rediviva), also called resurrection flower, is a low-growing wildflower with succulent foliage and attractive white or pink flowers. The plant gets its name from explorers Lewis and Clark, who used the roots of the plant for food when traveling through the mountains of Idaho. Bitterroot is very slow to germinate from seed, taking one to two years to emerge. The plant requires very precise growing conditions in order to do well, but for the gardener who is up for a challenge, growing bitterroot can be quite rewarding.
Fill the bottom of a 4-gallon black plastic bag with 3 to 4 cups of potting soil and place inside a refrigerator. Allow the bag to remain there for five weeks.
Prepare the planting site by removing all grass, weeds and large rocks. Loosen the soil to a depth of 5 inches with a garden fork.
Sprinkle the potting soil containing the bitterroot seeds over the planting site. Water well at the time of planting and continue to water whenever the top inch of soil feels dry. Add moisture carefully to prevent the seeds from being buried too deeply.
Thin the seedlings when they are 2 to 3 inches tall, leaving 2 inches between each plant. Continue to water the plants whenever there is a lack of rainfall. Water from the bottom instead of pouring the water over the plants to discourage fungal disease.
Fill the space between the soil and the crown of the bitterroot with stone chippings. This prevents excessive moisture from being held against the leaves and stems, which could result in disease.
Weed around the plants regularly.