Home of the Practically Perfect Pink Phlox and other native plants for pollinators

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Gaura is finally happy in the garden

And that makes me happy.   
Gaura lindheimeri/Oenothera lindheimeri is a fantastic plant for my pollinator friendly garden. This Texas and Louisiana native is a beauty with lovely cultivars like 'Whirling Butterfly' and 'Siskiyou Pink'. I chose a pink variety for Clay and Limestone.
Bees of all sizes love Gaura
 The secret to success is: full sun, great drainage and a few neighbors to lean upon! That spot is at the bottom of the sloping Susans border, where it makes a big, colorful flowery presence.
Prior to trying out the slope, Gaura happily bloomed in a large container planting
Its supporting neighbors are also beauties.

Amsonia hubrichtii is sited just above it on the slope. It flowers lightly for me, but the fall foliage is a delightful golden color and as it ages/dries the leaves curl. (Post: Amsonia after the fall)
 Agastache 'Blue Fortune' is next to the Bluestar. I love Agastache, but, it's not a perennial in my garden. Every spring I trek all over the city/county to find Agastache plants! Trust me they're so worth it and the blue flowers are lovely, just ask the bees.
A true annual in my garden, Cleome 'Senorita Rosalita' is planted in a container between the two Gauras. She's never happy in the ground here, but, thrives in containers. Btw, when you see containers in my garden beds, they're probably sited above a hunk of limestone bedrock that this gardener cannot dig up!
Allium tuberosum is the third beauty in this planting. It has seeded itself on the bottom of the slope and no amount of editing has been able to rid the garden of all of it, so I decided to go with it. The white flowers echo the white on Gaura and the hint of white on the Cleome.

Yes, the Garlic Chives are thuggish, but, it really does look great and the pollinators love it. Just remember to cut the seed heads off when the flower dries up or they will spread every where. I do mean every where!

I am really happy with the trio.

Fingers crossed that there's enough drainage to keep the Gauras alive this winter.


Please note that Gaura has a new Genus name~Oenothera! Now they shall be known as the ex-Gauras!

Gail Eichelberger is a gardener and therapist in Middle Tennessee. She loves wildflowers and native plants and thoroughly enjoys writing about the ones she grows at Clay and Limestone. She reminds all that the words and images are the property of the author and cannot be used without written permission.


  1. Those are happy combinations and I might try something similar next year as Blue Fortune is the only agastache that grows well for me. We are fortunate to have native Guara lindheimeri growing in nearby fields. Guara is so much easier to say and so familiar by now that I'm not planning to change.

  2. I've *never* successfully overwintered Gaura in my garden -- sounds like I should try it in my cactus bed...

    I've also never successfully removed garlic chives seed heads in time. So I've got bazillions of them! :)

  3. Gaura, or the plant formerly know as such--ha!--sometimes likes it here in my garden. Other years, it just fades away. I can't grow agastaches to save my life. They don't even last a season. I have satisfy myself with salvias instead. It's so funny that we both wrote about garlic chives today. Those baddies! I'll let mine bloom too for the bees, and then they're out of here. Loved this post Gail.

  4. I have killed so much gaura, even with great drainage. But I may try again. It's just such a cool plant. Your garden looks awesome!

  5. I've had amsonia lining my front walkway for a few years now, and it's only now that people are starting to compliment it's soft texture. It has gotten large enough to flop into the walkway, but it's so soft that no one seems to mind. Soon they'll be glowing golden!

  6. So pretty - I've never heard of guara before...it looks like it may be borderline in terms of hardiness here. I'm on the lookout for pollinator attracting plants to add to my list for when I complete our ornamental borders so I may give it a go anyhow. And thanks for the garlic chive warning - I've been meaning to add some to the herb bed for a couple of years, but hadn't got around to it yet. Since I often fall behind when it comes to gardening tasks, it may not be the best choice!

  7. Who gives you good pure oxygen, shade, fruits and flowers? Plants are just great. I like reading the blogs on growing and benefits of plants. Even watching images of the plants gives a sense of peace to our mind. Keep posting more. Even Question Signal

  8. Lovely pics. My garlic chives throw up flowers just as soon as I cut them off. Trying to keep them in check is exhausting.

  9. These are absolutely beautiful, Gail! Thanks for the day brightener :)

  10. Hmmmmmmmmm I have tried to get gauras to live in my garden several times and finally gave up. I might give them a try again. I have a well drained spot in mostly sun that might do the trick. Maybe I was too nice to it by watering too much trying to get it to grow. I now have a little more sun in the garden due to losing a couple of trees.

  11. I just love Gaura! So beautiful! I used to grow it on a slope when I lived down south, which worked well. I haven't gotten it to survive our cold wet winters up here in Massachusetts, though, unfortunately.

  12. A few years ago I learned why garlic chives (Allium tuberosum) are such energetic self-seeders: The seeds are already mature inside the flowerheads when the blooms appear -- so there's no grace period as there is with some other alliums. That means the seedheads need to be cut off *immediately* as soon as the white florets go, before any of the swollen capsules open even a little bit. It's too bad, since as with a lot of the other alliums, the seedheads remain decorative long after flowering. The risk is just too great, though, since every seed that finds ground seems to germinate, and their tough little swollen-stem and roots are remarkably hard to rout out.

    Wouldn't ever want to be without garlic chives, though, since the clean white is so refreshing in the crispy purply haze of late summer. For an even later dose of it, I've recently discovered there's a white form of Allium thunbergii, an Asian allium that blooms in October. Years ago I grew the regular version, whose purply-pink blooms also fit in with sedums and asters at that time of year. No sign of self-sowing; probably the seeds don't have enough time to ripen before the hard freezes come on.

  13. (too much confusing ;~)
    Oenothera is evening primrose. I'll have to learn think of Gaura as part of that.

  14. Love the agastache and the Allium tuberosum.

    I'm *hoping* my garlic chives go wild and spread throughout the garden. I only have a single clump now added to the garden this spring (or last fall, can't remember).

    I have one small gaura hanging on in too much shade. I've heard they're hard to transplant and can't decide if it's worth the risk to move it somewhere sunnier where it might do better.

    I've had Gaura in the past and loved it, but it never lived long here. I don't think my drainage is good enough. But I do think I'll try again next spring - I've got a sunny slope that just might work!! :)

  15. I've never been able to grow Gaura successfully. Apparently (and sadly have never been there to see it) I heard from a well-travelled writer that it was planted all along the Champs Elysees in Paris and moved with the wind. Mine had three branches lay on the soil in protest for being planted in my garden rather than Paris....


"Insects are the little things that run the world." Dr. E O Wilson