How to Plant and Grow Gaura

This tough plant will actually thrive in poor soil.

gaura lindheimeri in bloom

Richard Hirneisen

Attract butterflies and other pollinators to your yard with the long stems of delicate blossoms of gaura (Gaura lindheimeri). This tough native perennial is used as a specimen plant in Zones 5-10 among small grasses and larger perennials or to create a stunning display in a large container.

When in bloom, gaura's wiry stems look covered with small white or pink butterflies. And in fact, guara does draw plenty of pollinators. Its small, narrow leaves are 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.

Because of gaura's rugged nature, ability to stand up to harsh summer conditions, and profuse flowers, it has become quite popular.

Gaura Overview

Genus Name Gaura
Common Name Gaura
Plant Type Perennial
Light Part Sun, Sun
Height 1 to 5 feet
Width 1 to 4 feet
Flower Color Pink, White
Foliage Color Blue/Green
Season Features Fall Bloom, Summer Bloom
Special Features Attracts Birds, Good for Containers, Low Maintenance
Zones 10, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9
Propagation Division, Seed, Stem Cuttings
Problem Solvers Deer Resistant, Drought Tolerant

Where to Plant Gaura

Plant gauras anywhere they'll get full sun. The afternoon sun is fine in hotter climates. Plant taller varieties of gaura in the center of a garden as a focal point. Give larger gauras about a foot of space around each plant to allow plenty of room to grow.

How and When to Plant Gaura

Because gaura can sometimes flop over, plant it with other similarly heat-tolerant plants that can support it as it grows, such as globe thistle.

After the last frost of spring, sow gaura seeds in your garden or start them indoors six weeks before the last frost.

With nursery starts, dig a hole about the same width and depth as the planting container. Remove the plant and loosen the roots a bit from the root ball before placing it in the hole. Backfill with soil, tamp lightly, and water well. Be choosy about where you plant gaura because the plant's long taproot makes it difficult to transplant them after they are established.

Gaura Care Tips

An anomaly of the plant world, gaura tolerates poor growing conditions and grows better for it.


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 rare occasions, bother gaura.

Soil and Water

A long taproot means these plants are well-adapted to drought and can withstand some harsh growing conditions. The one thing that 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 won't overwinter if kept too wet. Because of this, gaura is best planted in well-drained soil. In rich soil, it tends to grow leggy stems and lush foliage that cause the whole plant to flop.

Temperature and Humidity

These plants are extremely heat- and humidity-tolerant and withstand the most brutal summer conditions while still looking healthy and thriving.


Because gaura survives in tough conditions, fertilizer isn't necessary and can cause them to flop over.


After their initial wave of blooms finishes in early to mid summer, shear gaura's flower stems. This keeps plants looking neat and encourages the next round of flowers. In addition, in some types, this helps prevent vigorous reseeding.

Potting and Repotting Gaura

Gaura has a long taproot, so you'll need at least a 12-inch container to pot them. Good drainage is crucial to guara's health since they don't like soggy soil. Use an all-purpose potting mix. Gaura is a good candidate for potting since they don't do well in wet winter soil and can be kept alive by bringing potted plants indoors for those months.

Pests and Problems

Other than common garden pests, there aren't a lot of problems for gaura.

How to Propagate Gaura

You can propagate gaura from plant cuttings or seeds.

Cuttings: The best cuttings for propagating guara are base cuttings, not the tips of stems. Make the first cut beneath a leaf node and as close to the crown as you can get without damaging it. Then cut the stem above the next leaf node until you have a few 4- to 5-inch cuttings. Choose a 1-gallon or larger pot with drain holes, fill it with well-draining soil, and moisten it. Dip the end of each stem cutting in rooting hormone powder and insert it in the soil. Space each cutting several inches from its neighbor. Cover the entire pot with a plastic bag and place it in a warm location in bright light (not direct sun). Check the pot daily and water it generously when the top half inch of soil seems dry. When you see new growth in a few weeks, the stem has rooted. Give the plants time to develop their root systems; then transfer them to individual pots where they can grow until they're ready to be planted in the garden.

Seeds: Fill a container with drain holes with seed-starting mix and moisten it. Sprinkle the seeds sparingly on the soil and cover them with a scant 1/4 inch of the planting medium. Place a clear plastic bag over the pot to maintain humidity and position it in a warm, low-light area. When new growth appears in two to four weeks, remove the plastic bag and move the container into bright light while keeping the planting medium moist. Give the seedlings a week or so to develop two sets of leaves and then transplant them to individual 4-inch pots filled with commercial potting soil. When the seedlings are 4 to 6 inches tall, they can be transplanted outdoors.

Types of Gaura

'Crimson Butterflies' Gaura

Gaura lindheimeri 'Crimson Butterflies' couldn't be better named. With burgundy foliage, red stems, and bright pink flowers, this plant stands out anywhere you put it. It grows up to 5 feet tall in Zones 5–8.

'Whirling Butterflies' Gaura

Gaura lindheimeri 'Whirling Butterflies' is a clump-forming perennial native to the American south. It has an extremely long flowering season with sparse blooms that are said to resemble butterflies, hence the name. It grows 2 to 3 feet tall and benefits from being planted in groups. Zones 5-9

'Deep Whiskers Rose' Gaura

Hummingbirds won't pass up Gaura lindheimeri ' Deep Whiskers Rose' in the garden. The rosy blossoms with white whisker-like stamens is a compact gaura that grows only slightly more than 1 foot tall in Zones 5-10.

'Sparkle White' Gaura

Gaura lindheimeri 'Sparkle White' is a new award-winning compact gaura that flowers in its first year. Growing 1 to 2 feet tall, this beauty is a perfect size for containers or borders. Zones 5-9

Gaura Companion Plants


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Phlox is a summer flower perfect for any large sunny flowerbed or border. There are several different kinds of phlox. Phlox need amply moist soil for the best overall health. Zones 4-8


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Herbaceous peonies belong in almost every garden. Their flowers—single, semidouble, anemone-centered or Japanese and fully double—come in shades of pink and red as well as white and yellow. The foliage is usually dark green and remains good-looking all season long. Where well-suited to the climate, these long-lived perennials can thrive on zero care. Zones 3-8


Blue Salvia
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There are hundreds of different types of salvias, commonly called sage. They all have tall flower spikes and gray-green leaves. Not all are hardy in cold climates, but they're easy to grow as annuals. 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. Zones 3-10

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Does gaura die back in winter?

    Gaura dies back in winter in very cold climates. In other places, it's evergreen.

  • What are the other names for gaura?

    Gaura is also known as wandflower, butterfly gaura, whirling butterflies, beeblossom, appleblossom, and lindheimer's gaura.

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