Castilleja coccinea

Indian Paintbrush



3 Pack *with Juncus
Out of Stock

Indian Paintbrush is a sought-after prairie beauty that prefers bright sites with medium-dry to medium-wet soils. An annual or biennial, its vivid scarlet bracts nearly hide small, greenish flowers and appear to have been dipped in paint.  May and June are the typical bloom time, but because of its annual or biennial nature, you can see flowers blooming as late as October.

Indian Paintbrush is one of the larval host plants of the Chalcedon Checkerspot, Edith's Checkerspot and of the Theona Checkerspot.

A hemiparasitic plant is one that its roots seek out those of host plants, usually grasses, and tap into them for nutrition (see Germination Code K).  If you will be starting Indian Paintbrush in a container, good hosts for many hemiparasitic species include low-growing grasses and sedges like Blue Grama, Juncus species, Buffalo Grass, Pennsylvania Sedge, Sweet Grass, and June Grass. With a knife make a 2" deep cut at the base of the host plant. Sow seed in the cut, making sure seed is not more than 1/8" deep. If host is transplanted at sowing time, the cut is not needed because damaged roots will be available for attachment by the parasite. You may also try sowing hemiparasitic and host species seeds together at the same time. To add hemiparasitic species to existing sites, scatter seed on soil surface (rake in if seed is large) in late fall.

Live Plant Shipping Table

Spring Fall Age/Size
Potted 3-Packs* May/June N/A 2.5" wide x 3.5" deep pots
*DISCLAIMER: Our 3-Pack potted plants of Indian Paintbrush with Path Rush (Juncus tenuis) are experimental. Indian Paintbrush and Path Rush seedlings were transplanted together into a single pot because Indian Paintbrush is hemiparasitic and can benefit from a host plant. Although we have had previous success with this method, we cannot guarantee the root systems of the two species are attached. Due to the specialized nature of this 3-Pack, we cannot offer replacements or refunds. Indian Paintbrush is an annual or biennial; for the best chance of re-seeding, plant in a sunny, open area with little competition.

Castilleja coccinea - Indian Paintbrush

Map Key

Present in state
Present but introduced in county
Present and native in county; not rare
Not present in state
Present and native in county; rare
Species extirpated (historic)
State or county listed as noxious
Present in state; exotic

This map shows the native and introduced (adventive) range of this species. Given appropriate habitat and climate, native plants can be grown outside their range.

4 Questions asked on Castilleja coccinea

I am planning on transplanting Little Blue Stem to a prepared area soon. How exactly do I place the Indian Paintbrush seed when I transplant so that the parasitic relationship get established?
Hi Patricia. Good question. There are good instructions on the Germ Code K species pages themselves - see the 'About' tab, or hover over the Germ Code K in the 'details' box.

There we talk about making a 2" slit in the roots of the host (in your case, the Little Blue and sowing the Paintbrush seed there. The seeds need to overwinter and you will hope for Paintbrush seedlings at the base of the grass next spring!

How can I place an order for the potted plants?
Hi CJ, Our spring potted plants are typically available to order by January 1st. You can call then or place an order online. I recommend adding them to your Wish List so you are notified when they are available!
If I want a population of these annuals/biennials to become established long-term, but seeding directions indicate there need to be broken roots on the grasses when the Indian paintbrush is seeded, does that mean I need to take or slice into the soil around the established grasses or something each year?
Hi Anne, You shouldn’t need to do that every year. To start Indian Paintbrush next to an existing plant, we would recommend that process, but you can also sow the paintbrush at the same time as a shorter grass or other suitable host. The paintbrush and host plant’s roots would then grow together, enabling the paintbrush to feed off the host plant. You may need to reseed the paintbrush and host together again to ensure it’s established. Minimal competition from other taller plants will also help it stick around.
Hello! I’m planning to cold stratify the castilleja coccinea seeds in the fridge for 60 days then sow the stratified seed with grass seed and with established clumps of grass in the garden. What’s the best time to do this? Can I expect blooms the first season? Thanks in advance!
Hi Grace! If you want to stratify the seeds in the fridge, you could do that starting now. Being this late in the year, you could also skip the fridge stratification and simply direct-sow both the Indian Paintbrush and your grass seed in late October or November. It is quite probable that the Indian Paintbrush will bloom in the first season, especially if the seeds are outdoors throughout the winter months.


Growing your own plants from seed is the most economical way to add natives to your home. Before you get started, one of the most important things to know about the seeds of wild plants is that many have built-in dormancy mechanisms that prevent the seed from germinating. In nature, this prevents a population of plants from germinating all at once, before killing frosts, or in times of drought. To propagate native plants, a gardener must break this dormancy before seed will grow.

Each species is different, so be sure to check the GERMINATION CODE listed on the website, in the catalog, or on your seed packet. Then, follow the GERMINATION INSTRUCTIONS prior to planting. Some species don't need any pre-treatment to germinate, but some species have dormancy mechanisms that must be broken before the seed will germinate. Some dormancy can be broken in a few minutes, but some species take months or even years.

Seed dormancy can be broken artificially by prolonged refrigeration of damp seed in the process of cold/moist STRATIFICATION. A less complicated approach is to let nature handle the stratifying through a dormant seeding, sowing seeds on the surface of a weed-free site in late fall or winter. Tucked safely beneath the snow, seeds will be conditioned by weathering to make germination possible in subsequent growing seasons.

To learn more, read our BLOG: How to Germinate Native Seeds

Dormant Bare Root Plants

We dig plants when they are dormant from our outdoor beds and ship them April-May and October. Some species go dormant in the summer and we can ship them July/August. We are among the few still employing this production method, which is labor intensive but plant-friendly. They arrive to you dormant, with little to no top-growth (bare-root), packed in peat moss. They should be planted as soon as possible. Unlike greenhouse-grown plants, bare-root plants can be planted during cold weather or anytime the soil is not frozen. A root photo is included with each species to illustrate the optimal depth and orientation. Planting instructions/care are also included with each order.

Download: Installing Your Bare-Root Plants

Potted Plants

3-packs and trays of 32, 38, or 50 plants leave our Midwest greenhouses based on species readiness (being well-rooted for transit) and order date; Spring shipping is typically early May through June, and Fall shipping is mid-August through September. Potted 3-packs and trays of 38 plugs are started from seed in the winter so are typically 3-4 months old when they ship. Trays of 32/50 plugs are usually overwintered so are 1 year old. Plant tray cells are approximately 2” wide x 5” deep in the trays of 38 and 50, and 2.5" wide x 3.5" deep in the 3-packs and trays of 32; ideal for deep-rooted natives. Full-color tags and planting & care instructions are included with each order.

Download: Planting and Care of Potted Plants

*PLEASE NOTE: we are a mail order nursery and have no retail facilities, but you may pick up your order if prior arrangements are made. Pick up orders are subject to **MN Sales Tax.

US Shipping & Handling Charges

SEED $100.00 and under: $5.00
Retail SEED orders over $100.00 ship free!

Custom seed mixes or discounted seed sales over $100, add 5% of the total seed cost
(for orders over $1,000 a package signature may be required)

BARE ROOT and POTTED PLANTS $50.00 and under: $9.00
over $50.00: 18% of the total plant cost. (For orders over $1,000 a package signature may be required.)

TOOLS and BOOKS have the shipping fee included in the cost of the product (within the contiguous US).

**We are required to collect state sales tax in certain states. Your state's eligibility and % will be calculated at checkout. MN State Sales Tax of 7.375% is applied for orders picked up at our MN location. Shipping & handling charges are also subject to the sales tax.

Shipping Season

SEED, TOOLS and BOOKS are sent year-round. Most orders ship within 1-3 business days.

BARE ROOT PLANTS are shipped during optimal transplanting time: Spring (April-May) and Fall (Oct). Some ephemeral species are also available for summer shipping. Since our plants are field-grown, Nature sets the schedule each year as to when our season will begin and end. We fill all orders, on a first-come, first-serve basis, to the best of our ability depending on weather conditions beyond our control.

POTTED PLANTS (Trays of 32/38/50 plugs and 3-packs) typically begin shipping early May and go into June; shipping time is heavily dependent on all the species in your order being well-rooted. If winter-spring greenhouse growing conditions are favorable and all species are well-rooted at once, then we ship by order date (first come, first serve). We are a Midwest greenhouse, and due to the challenges of getting all the species in the Mix & Match and Pre-Designed Garden Kits transit-ready at the same time, we typically can't ship before early May. Earlier shipment requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

*We are unable to ship PLANTS (bare root or potted) outside the contiguous US or to CALIFORNIA due to regulations.


We ship using USPS, UPS and Spee Dee. UPS and Spee Dee are often used for expediting plant orders; they will not deliver to Post Office Box numbers, so please also include your street address if ordering plants. We send tracking numbers to your email address so please include it when you order.



Germination Code
Life Cycle
Annual, Biennial
Sun Exposure
Full, Partial
Soil Moisture
Medium-Wet, Medium, Medium-Dry
2 feet
Bloom Time
May, June
Bloom Color
Bird Favorite: seeds, insects, fruit, nectar, nesting, perch
Highly recommended for home landscaping
USDA Zones
Plant Spacing
Catalog Code