Attract butterflies and other pollinators to your yard with gaura's long stems of delicate blossoms. Also known as wandflower, use this tough native perennial as a specimen plant among small grasses and larger perennials or create a stunning display by planting it in a large container.
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When in bloom, gaura's wiry stems look like they are covered with small white or pink butterflies. And in fact, they do draw plenty of pollinators. Its small, narrow leaves are most often green, but the foliage also comes in soft burgundy, especially in the varieties with dark pink flowers. Many of the new dwarf varieties make exceptional, drought-tolerant container plants.
Gaura Care Must-Knows
A long taproot means these plants are well-adapted to drought and can stand up to some pretty tough growing conditions. The one thing that absolutely must be avoided is wet soil, because gaura's taproot is likely to rot in soggy conditions. During winter, gaura does best on the dry side and will not overwinter if kept too wet. Because of this, gaura is best planted in well-drained soil. An anomaly of the plant world, gaura not only tolerates poor growing conditions but actually grows better for it. In rich soil, it tends to grow leggy stems and lush foliage that cause the whole plant to flop.
One way to help prevent these naturally tall plants from flopping is by planting them in full sun. This ensures the sturdiest plants possible and promotes the most prolific flowering. Full sun also helps prevent any potential foliar diseases that may, on the rare occasion, bother gaura. These plants are extremely heat- and humidity-tolerant and withstand the toughest summer conditions while still putting on quite a show.
After their initial wave of blooms finish in early- to midsummer, it is a good idea to give these plants a quick shearing. This keeps plants looking neat and ushers in the next round of flowers. In some types this helps prevent potentially vigorous reseeding (a problem in ideal growing conditions).
Because of gaura's tough nature, ability to stand up to harsh summer conditions, and profuse flowers, it has become quite popular. More work has been done to shrink these plants to accommodate containers, which has the benefit of making them more workable in gardens, too, because their loose, willowy shape can be overwhelming in a smaller setting.
Gaura Companion Plants
Phlox are one of those bounteous summer flowers any large sunny flowerbed or border shouldn't be without. There are several different kinds of phlox. Garden and meadow phlox produce large panicles of fragrant flowers in a wide assortment of colors. They also add height, heft, and charm to a border. Low-growing wild Sweet William, moss pinks, and creeping phlox are effective as ground covers, at the front of the border, and as rock and wild garden plants, especially in light shade. These native gems have been hybridized extensively especially to toughen the foliage against mildew problems; many recent selections are mildew-resistant. Phlox need amply moist soil for best overall health.
Perhaps the best-loved perennials, herbaceous peonies belong in almost every garden. Their sumptuous flowers—single, semidouble, anemone centered or Japanese, and fully double—in glorious shades of pinks and reds as well as white and yellow announce that spring has truly arrived. The handsome fingered foliage is usually dark green and remains good-looking all season long. Provide deep rich soil with plenty of humus to avoid dryness, and don't plant the crowns more than 2 inches beneath the surface. But these are hardly fussy plants. Where well suited to the climate, they can thrive on zero care.
There are hundreds of different types of salvias, commonly called sage, but they all tend to share beautiful, tall flower spikes and attractive, often gray-green leaves. Countless sages (including the herb used in cooking) are available to decorate ornamental gardens, and new selections appear annually. They are valued for their very long season of bloom, right up until frost. Not all not hardy in cold climates, but they are easy to grow as annuals. On square stems, clothed with often-aromatic leaves, sages carry dense or loose spires of tubular flowers in bright blues, violets, yellow, pinks, and red that mix well with other perennials in beds and borders. Provide full sun or very light shade, in well-drained average soil.