Do you want a plant of loose texture and spidery form that is perfect for a relaxed, carefree border? A plant that lasts all summer and can take a bit of drought to still bloom? Maybe a plant that even works a garden that goes shaggy and could grow through the grass. It’s a prairie plant after all.
Gaura looks best with the support from neighboring perennials. I have a very closely planted garden, so I have that covered for the three varieties of Gaura in my garden shown below. Also, it can get very weedy in warmer climates if it reseeds freely. But what about pollinators?
Gaura has very small flowers so it caters to insects with long tongues like bumblebees and metallic bees. I found out it is one of the plants that services night pollinating moths. Gaura is a nocturnal bloomer with the flowers at their peak in the morning. I added it to feed the moths. I am never out in the garden when moths fly, but I have it on faith they visit my Gaura.
Gaura may not always winter reliably, but one can consider using it as an annual in colder winter regions. It readily will produce self-sown seedlings if the plant does not return after a wet winter.
Curiously, all three varieties in my garden did not have the plant zone noted on the plant tag, most likely because it can be unreliable in cold climates. It is supposed to be hardy in USDA Zones 5 through 9, but I think the unreliability is due to cold, wet winters of spring. It makes sense a plant liking dryer conditions would hate a cold wet winter.
Gaura is a plant that has recently been recategorized Oenothera lindheimeri. It is native to Texas and Mexico, and will grow to about 3 feet tall, here mine only has grown to 18″. Each flower lasts less than one day, but there are quite a few of these delicate flowers.
I added it for pollinators, especially night visitors, but have seen butterflies and bees nectaring. I even saw a hummingbird in its vicinity, but it may have been after the verbena also in that location. It is planted in a few places with different plant partners. Lavender and sage are other plants that share its preference for good draining, dryer conditions. If you like the look of prairie plants, you might like Gaura. ‘Sparkle White’ is an AAS Bedding Plant and FleuroSelect Gold Medal award winner. It has a bit of a relaxed appearance, so if you don’t mind a garden a bit less tidy looking, Gaura may fit the bill.
Other flowers moths like? They like petunias, cleome, and Evening Primrose, also in my garden.
More gardens on the way here on GWGT. A flurry of garden posts to come, but first an over-looked garden plant for Monarchs. Yes, everybody wants butterflies!