Flowers, Ground Cover

Callirhoe Involucrata Care: Grow Purple Poppy Mallow

Purple poppy mallow sprawling over the ground

Tough, drought tolerant and evergreen, Callirhoe involucrata or the purple poppy mallow is known for its beautiful extra bright magenta flowers that look like tiny wine cups. This is the reason why this plant is also called “wine cups” colloquially.

This mat-forming plant is found abundantly in North America and is native to southwest and central United States especially Missouri where it most frequently occurs in dry, rocky soils in fields, prairies and along roadsides that are dispersed in a number of counties located in the northeast side of the Missouri River.

The purple poppy mallow sprawls with low growing foliage topped with bright purple cup-shaped flowers that grow in mid-spring through fall. The plant works just as beautifully in a formal garden as it does in naturalized areas or spreading over walls – especially thanks to their white center. It’s a wonderful ground cover that grows up to 6-12 inches tall and spread about 3 inches wide.

Read on to find out everything you need to know about growing and caring for Callirhoe involucrata.

Quick Care

Callirhoe involucrata flower
The purple cupped flower gives it its signature name. Source: im me
Common Name(s): Purple poppy mallow, Winecup Flowers, Buffalo Rose
Scientific NameCallirhoe involucrata
Height & Spread:8-12″ tall and 3′ wide
LightFull sun
SoilSandy to loamy, well-draining
Water:Low to medium
Pests & Diseases:Slugs and root rot

The Buffalo Rose plant is popular for the masses of pink or reddish-purple cup-shaped blooms with a white spot in the middle, that gives them the name wine cups. The flowers are borne at the tips of the stem. They open in the morning and close in the evening.

The plants form a low foliage mound producing several vine like stems that are up to 4″ inches long. The angular stems are colored light green to dull purple and covered with tiny white hairs. The alternate leaves are more or less orbicular in shape, palmate and consist of 5 main lobes.

Bloom time starts from early spring and peaks during summer. Individual flowers grow from the axils of the leaves. The flowers consist of 5 deep magenta petals and whitish green calyx. When they’re mature they expand outwardly with their numerous stamens and pink style branches. Each carpel consist of a single seed and the plant spreads by reseeding itself.

Wine cups work really well in wildflower meadows, xeriscape gardens, and as a ground cover plant. They can also thrive in containers and hanging baskets.

Callirhoe Involucrata Care

Purple poppy mallow sprawling over the ground
An excellent low-lying, sprawling ground cover plant. Source: philipbouchard

The purple poppy mallow (Callirhoe involucrata) is hardy and easy to care for. They are ideal to grow in hot and dry locations. Here’s what you need to know about their growing conditions and requirements.

Sun & Temperature

The purple poppy mallow are native to hot climates and they love full sun. Therefore, it’s best to grow these plants in a garden with bright sunlight. However, if the afternoon sun is too harsh in summers, you can move them to a partially shaded area.

The plant grows best in USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 4-8. The ideal temperature range for these plants is 50-80 °F.

Water & Humidity

Buffalo Rose plants are drought tolerant and prefers dry conditions so it has very low to average water needs. Keep watering it regularly but sparingly during the first growing season to promote root establishment. Once roots are properly established, infrequent but deep watering works best. Over watering can cause crown rot.


Wine cups grow best in moderately moist to dry soil that is well drained. Poorly draining soil can lead to crown rot. Therefore, well drained soils such as sandy, rocky, gravely and loamy soils are ideal for this plant. The preferred pH range is mildly acidic from pH 6-6.5.


Callirhoe involucrata is a light feeder. If the soil is especially poor, you can scratch in about an inch of blended compost prior to planting. After that, you can top dress with light fertilizer during spring time.


The plant can be propagated through seeds or by cuttings.

With seeds, you can direct sow outdoors or in a cold frame if the soil isn’t workable. If you’re looking to grow it in your garden, it’s best to sow it in pots in a cold frame. Germination usually takes place within 1-6 months at 59°F (15°C). Once the plant have produced about 8″ inches of growth, you can put the pots outside in early summer.

Stem cuttings should be done in summers. Division is best done with small and young plants as Callirhoe involucrata resents root disturbance. Keep the cuttings in light shade in a cold frame or green house till they begin rooting well.

Pruning and Training

You can deadhead the flowers to promote further blooming. Cut back stems in early to mid spring just above the nodes from where they emerge.


Callirhoe involucrata is more or less a problem-free plant, but here’s what you should know about potential growing issues.

Make sure that the soil in which they’re growing is well drained. Chronically wet or moist soil and overwatering can lead to crown rot.


There are no known issues of pests with this plant. Sometimes, it can suffer from a slug attack. To get rid of them you should the soil and surroundings dry. Also, you can use ammonia sprays or iron phosphate pallets to treat them. Make sure you don’t spray onto the leaves directly, as that may burn them.


The plant does not suffer from any particular disease. High humidity or wet soil can lead to fungal infection in some cases. It can be treated using fungicidal treatment and keeping the plant in well-aerated conditions with good soil drainage.


Q. Are Purple Poppy Mallow safe for dogs?

A. Although these plants do not appear on the toxic plants list, precaution must be taken if you have a free roaming dog in your garden.

Q. Are Purple Poppy Mallow plants rabbit resistant?

A. Rabbits are quite fond of the leaves of these plants so they can do some damage. It’s best to protect the purple poppy mallow from rabbits at least until they are well established. They are also deer resistant.

The purple poppy mallow is a truly lovely ground cover option that produces a nonstop show of appealing cup shaped magenta flowers from June through to September. Its easy care attributes and drought tolerant nature make it a top choice for gardeners.

Related Categories
Products in this article