Alphabetical Plant Listing

Collinsia heterophylla (Purple Chinese Houses)

Purple Chinese Houses, Harlequin Blue-eyed Mary, Chinese Houses, Innocence


Noted for its towers of flower clusters, Collinsia heterophylla (Purple Chinese Houses) is a charming annual wildflower boasting perfect floral whorls of decreasing diameter as they move up the stem, giving the plant a certain resemblance to a Chinese pagoda. Blooming from mid spring to mid summer, the flowers have a lilac or white upper lip and a rose-purple or violet lower lip. The nectar and pollen of the flowers attract bees, butterflies, and other pollinators. Bright-green, lance-shaped leaves clasp the stem. The blossoms give way to dry capsules which open to release about 20 seeds. This plant spreads by reseeding itself and often forms permanent colonies. Perfect for lightly shaded areas, Purple Chinese Houses provides a dainty effect in front of borders, scattered under deciduous trees or as bulb cover. The California native is also recommended as a plant to attract native pollinators. Purple Chinese houses may serve as a host for the spring azure and checkerspot butterflies.

  • Grows up to 12-24 in. tall and wide (30-60 cm). 
  • Performs best in part shade in rich, loamy, moist, well-drained soils.
  • Stunning when massed in mixed borders, cottage gardens, woodland gardens and naturalized areas.
  • No serious pest or disease issues.
  • The flowering season can be extended by removing the withering flowers before the fruit has set.
  • Propagate by seed. Sow seeds in both the fall and early spring for the maximum season of flowering.
  • Native to California and Baja California. Illinois, Kentucky.

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Requirements

Hardiness 2 – 11
Climate Zones 1, 1A, 1B, 2, 2A, 2B, 3, 3A, 3B, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24
Plant Type Annuals
Exposure Partial Sun
Season of Interest Spring (Early,Mid,Late)
Summer (Early)
Height 1' – 2' (30cm – 60cm)
Spread 1' – 2' (30cm – 60cm)
Spacing 18" (45cm)
Water Needs Average
Maintenance Low
Soil Type Loam
Soil pH Acid, Alkaline, Neutral
Soil Drainage Moist but Well-Drained
Characteristics Showy
Native Plants United States, California, Midwest, Illinois, Southeast, Kentucky
Attracts Butterflies
Garden Uses Beds and Borders
Garden Styles Informal and Cottage, Prairie and Meadow

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Don Loarie, Joe Decruyenaere (Flickr), Lisa Cardoza Routh (Shutterstock)

While every effort has been made to describe these plants accurately, please keep in mind that height, bloom time, and color may differ in various climates. The description of these plants has been written based on numerous outside resources.


Requirements

Hardiness 2 – 11
Climate Zones 1, 1A, 1B, 2, 2A, 2B, 3, 3A, 3B, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24
Plant Type Annuals
Exposure Partial Sun
Season of Interest Spring (Early,Mid,Late)
Summer (Early)
Height 1' – 2' (30cm – 60cm)
Spread 1' – 2' (30cm – 60cm)
Spacing 18" (45cm)
Water Needs Average
Maintenance Low
Soil Type Loam
Soil pH Acid, Alkaline, Neutral
Soil Drainage Moist but Well-Drained
Characteristics Showy
Native Plants United States, California, Midwest, Illinois, Southeast, Kentucky
Attracts Butterflies
Garden Uses Beds and Borders
Garden Styles Informal and Cottage, Prairie and Meadow

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