Gaura

This tough plant will actually thrive in poor soil.

Colorful Combinations

When in bloom, gaura's wiry stems look like they're 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.

Gaura Care Must-Knows

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. An anomaly of the plant world, gaura tolerates poor growing conditions and 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 rare occasions, bother gaura. These plants are extremely heat- and humidity-tolerant and withstand the most brutal summer conditions while still putting on quite a show.

After their initial wave of blooms finishes in early- to midsummer, it's a good idea to give these plants a quick shearing. This keeps plants looking neat and ushers in the next round of flowers. In addition, in some types, this helps prevent potentially vigorous reseeding (a problem in ideal growing conditions).

New Innovations

Because of gaura's rugged 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 makes them more workable in gardens. Their loose, willowy shape can be overwhelming in a smaller setting.

Gaura Companion Plants

Gaura Overview

Description 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.
Genus Name Gaura
Common Name Gaura
Plant Type Perennial
Light Part Sun, Sun
Height 1 to 3 feet
Width 1 to 2 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 5, 6, 7, 8, 9
Propagation Division, Seed, Stem Cuttings
Problem Solvers Deer Resistant, Drought Tolerant

Phlox

blooming phlox flowers
Jason Wilde

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 many 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 to toughen the foliage against mildew problems; many recent selections are mildew-resistant. Phlox need amply moist soil for best overall health.

Peony

sweet marjorie peony
Bob Stefko

Perhaps the best-loved perennials, herbaceous peonies belong in almost every garden. Their sumptuous flowers—single, semidouble, anemone-centered or Japanese and fully double—come in glorious shades of pinks and reds as well as white and yellow. Peony announces 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.

Salvia

Blue Salvia
Stephen Cridland

There are hundreds of different types of salvias, commonly called sage. They all have 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 bloom season up until frost. Not all are hardy in cold climates, but they're easy to grow as annuals. On square stems 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.

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