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Magic Flower, Sacred Flower of the Incas

Cantua buxifolia

Family: Polemoniaceae (po-le-moh-nee-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Cantua (KAN-tew-uh) (Info)
Species: buxifolia (buks-ih-FOH-lee-uh) (Info)



Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Characteristics:

This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds

Water Requirements:

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us


4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)


4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)

6-8 ft. (1.8-2.4 m)


USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)

USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Sun Exposure:

Sun to Partial Shade


Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Color:

Scarlet (Dark Red)

Bloom Time:

Late Spring/Early Summer



Other details:

Unknown - Tell us

Soil pH requirements:

Unknown - Tell us

Patent Information:


Propagation Methods:

From woody stem cuttings

Seed Collecting:

Unknown - Tell us


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Albany, California

Calistoga, California

Cambria, California

El Cerrito, California

Encinitas, California

Fairfield, California

Mckinleyville, California

Napa, California

Nipomo, California

Oakland, California

Richmond, California

San Diego, California

San Jose, California (2 reports)

San Leandro, California

Temecula, California

Vista, California

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Oct 9, 2015, jtcurtis from London
United Kingdom wrote:

We are growing Canuta buxifolia in the UK in the microclimate at Ventnor Botanic Garden where we rarely experience frost and if we do it is short lived.


On Oct 12, 2007, lolonurse from Poway, CA wrote:

I'm including a version of the tale which describes how it came to be called the Sacred Flower of the Incas. I have only just gotten this plant, so I don't know how it will do in my very unforgiving little microclimate in San Diego. I am planting it in an area with a bit of afternoon filtered shade, as it gets brutally hot in our yard, and crossing my fingers!
The Inca legend associated with the Cantuta is the tale of two kings named Illimani and Illampu, and their sons. Both kings were powerful and wealthy rulers of a vast country in the Kollasuyo region (today's Bolivian Altiplano), and both had a son they and their people held in great esteem. But as time passed, the kings became irritated at each other's prosperity, and eventually one of them attacked the other.

... read more


On Oct 12, 2007, macybee from Deer Park, TX (Zone 9a) wrote:

Cantua - Scared Flower of the Incas, Magic Flower
This small genus is made up of 6 species of semi-evergreen shrubs from the Andes of South America, characterized by pendulous, trumpet-shaped flowers on weak stalks. This characteristic is a feature of many unrelated flowers in the Americas that are pollinated by hummingbirds - with their amazing ability to hover they can obtain nectar from such flowers, which are inaccessible to other birds and insects. Only one species. Cantua buxifolia, is widely cultivated, valued for the elegance of its profuse flowers often in stark contrast with the bare, untidy stems and branches.
Cultivation: Cantuas require a mild climate without extremes of hot or cold and a sunny open position; in colder areas they prefer a sheltered position again... read more


On Jul 20, 2004, kente from Oakland, CA wrote:

I saw this plant while traveling in the Andes in December 2003. It was gorgeous, flowering in the backyard of a B&B we stayed at in Cuzco. At first, I thought it was a fuschia but was informed by local people that it was cantua. Imagine my excitement to find it in a garden center in Oakland CA. It is growing by leaps and bounds and already requires transplanting to a new pot and needs to be staked, after about 6 weeks. It gets about 4-5 hours of sun in the midday and is shaded in the later afternoon.


On Dec 31, 2003, KDePetrillo from North Scituate, RI (Zone 6a) wrote:

I grow this as a greenhouse plant in Zone 5. The information I have is that it is hardy to 35 degrees (Zone 10). It blooms here December thru June; it will grow to 4' in a container and requires full sun.