Gaura (Oenothera lindheimeri)

20171105_204727Gaura also goes by bee blossom, wand flower, and whirling butterflies, and if you see it growing you totally understand where these fanciful names come from.  Dainty pink flowers dance on long sprays of thin stems that shoot up from the ground.  The flowers start in early spring and continue on until winter comes.

20171105_205501A handy growing summary chart is at the end of the article.

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Native to Texas and Louisiana, Gaura is no stranger to heat and full sun, which makes it a perfect addition to gardens in Central California.  It’s also tolerant of poor soils and drought.  I have read that it doesn’t like to be transplanted, but tell that to the two large plants that got moved earlier this year.  They do get big, ours are about 2-3 feet high with a spread of up to 5 feet wide.

20171105_204941Gaura does not like the cold, so if you live in zones 8 or lower, you will want to give it some winter time protection.  Here in Central California, the stems start to look rather ragged during the cold months, and so we trim ours down heavily in the middle of fall.

20171102_160747There are a couple of issues to be aware of, like the fact that aphids absolutely love this plant.  We also get white flies and scale bugs.  The aphids and white flies don’t seem to faze it, but the scale bugs do.  Gaura can be a “trap plant” by attracting aphids away from other plants that are more susceptible, and they also help bring in ladybugs eager for an aphid meal.  However, the scale bugs can spread to other plants and can be more harmful if allowed to become to widespread.  Plants that show scale bug infestations should be trimmed back heavily (nearly to the ground) and all plant material disposed of out of your yard, not in your compost.

Gaura can also readily self-seed and become invasive.  This can be reduced by trimming the flower stems in the fall, but you may still find yourself with unwanted offspring.  If you have other plants nearby, they will help outcompete the seedlings.

Despite these set-backs, Gaura has been a welcome addition to our yard.  We have five plants and two varieties: Siskiyou Pink and Great White.  The profuse blooms are airy and fanciful and bees of all sorts absolutely love them.  If planted in a proper place, they will grace your yard with beauty for years to come.

Plant Summary:

  • Perrenial
  • Evergreen, but may die back in cold weather
  • Flower Color: pink
  • Height: up to 3 feet
  • Width: up to 5-6 feet
  • Sun: full sun
  • Water: drought tolerant
  • Soil pH: 6.5 – 7.5
  • Soil type: tolerates various soils
  • Key nutrients: balanced, potassium for flowering
  • Planting time: early spring




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