In the last decade, Gaura ‘The Bride’ has skyrocketed in popularity among gardeners. A graceful, hazy plant with airy spikes of white, star-shaped flowers with long anthers like daddy long-legs, held on slender stems from May to September.
This exceptionally long-flowering perennial looks equally at home in an informal cottage-style garden, with naturalistic plantings or among soft grasses in a perennial border. It is particularly useful for filling in gaps and for linking other planting groups together.
Give it space, as its wispy stems will lean over plants and pathways. The flowers sway and add movement to the garden, so it is a good choice for livening up formal knot gardens and evergreen borders, as well as picking and popping in a vase.
Gaura is a first year flowering perennial and will bloom in around 14 weeks from an early sowing. Very easy to grow from seed, it is not susceptible to disease and bothered by few pests. It is hardy to -23°C (-10°F), exceptionally drought-tolerant and will simply soak up the sun.
Gaura lindheimeri ‘The Bride’ has been awarded the prestigious RHS Award of Garden Merit (AGM).
Sowing: Sow seeds in January to May or sow in September to October.
January to May is the best time for sowing, the early you sow the better chance of planting out in summer. Use a clean tray or pot with a good quality peat based seed compost. Lightly firm the compost. Sow the seeds 2mm (1/8th in) deep and cover with a sprinkling of sieved soil or a thin layer of vermiculite. Water in lightly. Keep in a place with a temperature of 18 to 24°C (65 to 75°F), a propagator with bottom heat is ideal. Alternatively cover the pot with a plastic bag and turn the bag inside out every 3 days to prevent excessive condensation. Place on the windowsill out of direct sunlight. Keep on the dry side and seed should germinate after 15 to 30 days. Occasionally germination can be slow, so patience may be needed. Remove from the propagator or plastic bag once germination has occurred.
When seeds are big enough to handle, transplant into a 9cm (4in) pot. Harden off and plant out from May. If you have sown your seed late in the year then grow your plants on in pots until they goes into winter dormancy. Keep dry and frost free in a garage, greenhouse or a porch over winter. Once green shoots appear water your plant and keep in a well lit, frost free area ready for planting out in May.
Before planting out your young plant choose a site which is not waterlogged during the winter, sheltered from strong winds and which receives plenty of sunshine.
Water your plant well and soak the root-ball in a bucket of water. Prepare the ground thoroughly by incorporating organic matter or compost. Small plants are best planted in the summer months.
Give your plant plenty of space as a fully mature plant will easily fill a 60 to 90cm (24 to 36in) space and they are best not crowded in the border. Plant at the correct depth so that the compost is level with soil. Firm the plant in securely so that the roots can establish quickly. Water in well and try not water the leaves if possible.
Gaura is not susceptible to disease and they’re bothered by few pests. Aphids may congregate near the buds, but they can easily be dislodged by a blast of water from the hose. In fact, you may have to uncoil the hose only for aphid control, since once they are established they need very little extra water.
They form long taproots and are quite tolerant of drought, even when they’re placed in their favorite full sun. Their flowers will be most profuse if the plants are not given much fertiliser.
Resist the temptation to cut back after the plant has flowered, as it takes on beautiful autumn tints, particularly in cold weather. Cut them back to ground level in late February, mark their spots, and be patient. By mid-April, a few leaves will unfurl on a few short stems, then you will know those season-long flowers aren’t far off. Lift and divide mature plants in spring usually after 2 to 3 years.
Saving Gaura Seeds:
After blooming the flowers naturally drop to the ground leaving a clean stalk. The fruit that grows in their place is an angular indehiscent nut-like body containing reddish-brown seeds. The fruits start off green, then changes to dark greyish-brown when they are mature.
At this stage, cut the stems and place in a paper bag. Hang the bag in a dry place until the seeds come away from the stems and collect in the bottom of the bag. Clean the seeds to store, and as always, label and date the package.
Cottage/Informal Garden, Cut Flowers and Flower Arranging, Flowers Borders and Beds, Prairie Planting, Wildflower Gardens or Wildlife Gardens.
The species is native from Louisiana to Texas and adjacent Mexico.
The Gaura genus was left to its wild forms and considered unremarkable by plant collectors even into the 1980s; but a few passionate horticulturists saw its potential and began to watch for sports on which to base new cultivars. Now these named varieties are widely available for our planting pleasure.
Most of this breeding and propagation has been based on G. lindheimeri ‘Siskiyou Pink’, introduced by the talented folks at the Siskiyou Rare Plant Nursery in Medford, Oregon, in 1994. Dan Hinkley and his Heronistas picked up on it quite soon after; and where Heronswood leads, plant aficionados are sure to follow. So today, most nurseries offer at least a limited selection of Gaura lindheimeri cultivars. Many of these are tagged as Northwest natives. More are being released every year from breeders in North America and others in Europe, Australia, and New Zealand. Gaura is becoming a very popular plant indeed.
Note that botanists have recently reclassified and named this species Oenothera lindheimeri, the old name Gaura is now a synonym of Oenothera. We will continue to list it under the Latin name of Gaura until the new name becomes more familiar.
The genus name Gaura comes from from the Greek gauros meaning superb, proud or majestic, most probably in reference to the erect nature of the flowers.
The specific epithet honours Ferdinand Jakob Lindheimer (1801-1879), often called the father of Texas botany because of his work as the first permanent-resident plant collector in Texas. Lindheimer is credited with the discovery of several hundred plant species. His name is used to designate forty-eight species and subspecies of plants. In 1879 his essays and memoirs were published under the title Aufsätze und Abhandlungen. Lindheimer's plant collections can be found in at least twenty institutions, including the Missouri Botanical Gardens, the British Museum, the Durand Herbarium and Museum of Natural History in Paris, and the Komarov Botanic Institute in St. Petersburg.
It has a number of common names including Lindheimer's Bee Blossom, Apple Blossom Grass and Wand Flower.
- Additional Information
Average Seed Count 25 Seeds Seed Form Natural Seeds per gram 55 seeds per gram Family Onagraceae Genus Gaura Species lindheimeri Cultivar The Bride Synonym Oenothera lindheimeri Common Name Lindheimer's Bee Blossom Other Common Names Apple Blossom Grass, Wand Flower Hardiness Hardy Perennial Hardy Hardy to -23°C (-10°F) Flowers Airy spikes of white, star-shaped flowers Natural Flower Time May to September Height 80 to 100cm (32 to 40in) Spread 30 to 40cm (12 to 16in) Spacing 25cm (10in)