For a brief moment in the spring - Lady's Purse Plant

The Calceolaria – Lady’s Purse Plant – One Cheery Little Flowering Plant

My daughter brought me a plant the other day. Daughters are like that, you know. Bringing little gifts when you least expect it. And not for any reason, just because she loves me. It was so pretty and it was a plant I don’t think I had seen before. It is called Lady’s Purse Plant (Calceolaria) but it’s known by many other names such as Slipper Flower, Slipperwort, or even Pocketbook Flower. Just looking at this photo, I’ll bet you can tell why.

Lady's Purse Plant - Calceolaria

Don’t the little flowers look like a purse or pocketbook? Even a slipper? The flowers are all different sizes on the plant and if you touch them, they seem to deflate but recover after a while. How curious!

I looked up the info on the plant and it seems some say it is easy care and others contradict that and say it is a fussy plant. I guess I will have to see for myself. It is typically grown as an annual and forced to bloom in late winter and early spring, looking so colorful and cheerful in the shops and grocery stores that we can’t resist it. Lady’s Purse Plant makes a great gift since they’re not really expensive. Here in Ohio at a grocery store it was $5 for a 4 inch pot.

This sure looks like a purse! Calceolaria close up

This cheerful and colorful plant can be grown outdoors in USA zone 10a to 11b and needs bright light but not sunlight. Calceolaria comes from Central and South America. It likes a moist soil but not always wet. Lady’s Purse plant needs to dry out in the top few inches of soil before it needs watered again.

The Sad Fate of Lady’s Purse Plant

According to most sights, this is a houseplant to enjoy for one season only, and the flowers for just a few weeks. Once the flowers die off, it won’t bloom again. The plant will begin to wilt and will finally die off. Then all that’s left is…..the compost pile. Poor thing!

Lady's purse plant grown outdoors - even prettier!

However, this may only apply to the forced version that we have here in the colder regions. Perhaps if grown outside as an annual flower,  a gardener could get re-bloom if the plants needs are met well. If you have grown it outside, let us know. Those photos of the outside version are sure tempting. Pretty delicate stalks reminding me of an anemone.

But I can enjoy it during its colorful time, and I know I sure need some blooming flowers to get me through these last few weeks til spring. As in most years, we will still have a lot of snows and cold weather. ( Our morning temps were 9°F with a wind chill of -6°F.) That’s how Ohio is. Brrrr!

Moms Always Want Gifts! A Lady's Purse Plant - Calceolaria!

Perhaps to save her life, I will plant my little Lady’s Purse in a hypertufa pot. Maybe the great drainage keeping it from getting too moist, but yet the moisture that I can give the hypertufa by spritzing it each day with water could keep it alive. It is sure worth a try. (Don’t look over there in the corner at that gasping orchid. Look away!)

Those leaves are pretty and if I can keep it alive here indoors, who knows? Maybe I can get another bloom out of her. Miracles can happen!


  1. I know it says that it only blooms for a couple of weeks and then it is done. That was not my experience as my first time with two of these plants. They reflowered 2 more times (for a total of 3 times). we had 90+ degree weather quite a bit and I watered daily because of hot dry heat.
    ~North Dakota area

    1. Wow, how nice. It sounds like you had a really good plant and took excellent care of her.

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