Airy blooms on wispy, graceful stems cover white gaura (Gaura lindheimeri) all season. Its 1-inch flowers open white and bloom up the stem like gladiolus, gradually blushing with soft pink. A native to Louisiana, Texas, and Mexico, it survives hot weather and periods of drought because of its long tap root, which finds water deep in the soil.
Common name: White gaura
Botanical name: Gaura lindheimeri
Plant type: Perennial
Height: 5 feet tall
Zones: 6 to 9 (5 with winter protection)
Family: Onagraceae (fuchsia family)
- Sun: Full sun is best, but will tolerate some shade in warmer climates.
- Soil: Flourishes in sandy, loamy, well-drained soil; may droop by midseason in rich soil.
- Moisture: Average to dry
- Mulching: To deter weeds, add a 1- to 2-inch layer of organic mulch around plants.
- Fertilizing: Apply a balanced fertilizer in spring, if needed.
- Pruning: Remove spent flowers to encourage more flowering.
- Award-winning ‘Petite Pink' (pictured above) has pink flowers and dark green to burgundy foliage. Grows 12 to 16 inches tall. Zones 5 to 9.
- Free-flowering ‘Whirling Butterflies' has red sepals and gray-green foliage. Grows 24 to 36 inches tall. Zones 6 to 9.
- ‘Siskiyou Pink' has showy pink flowers from May to August. Grows 2 ½ to 3 feet tall. Zones 5 to 8.
- Combine with Oriental poppy, licorice mint, or other perennials that do well in dry conditions.
- Plant white gaura in a wildflower garden where its loose form complements wildflowers.
- Because it self-sows easily, watch for unwanted seedlings each spring.
- Collect seeds in the fall and sow them in other parts of the garden.
- Dividing and transplanting white gaura is difficult because of the plant's large tap root.
Pests and diseases
- Downy and powdery mildew, rust, or leaf spots appear, but rarely.
- Root rot may occur in heavy, wet soil.
- Sow seeds in a cold frame in spring.
- Divide in spring or fall.
- Take softwood cuttings in spring.
All in the family
- Fuchsias and evening primroses (Oenothera) are two other plants in this family.
Text by Mary Pestel, photo courtesy of Proven Winners