Gaura Lindheimeri: Growing Lindheimer’s Beeblossom

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Beautiful in wildflower gardens, gaura lindheimeri is more commonly known as Lindheimer’s beeblossom. Named after the German-born botanist Ferdinand Jacob Lindheimer, gaura plant is from the family Onagraceae.

The white flowers or pink flowers it produces look like butterflies, and it’s got a long blooming season. Drought-tolerant, this garden perennial looks best when it’s allowed to sprawl out and naturalize. It’s good for xeriscaping as well!

A warm weather loving species, the butterfly plant is well worth adding to your garden beds. Let’s talk about everything that Lindheimer’s beeblossom can offer for your landscaping needs!

Products For Growing Lindheimer’s Beeblossom:

Quick Care Guide

Gaura lindheimeri
Gaura lindheimeri produces beautiful, butterfly-shaped flowers. Source: douneika
Common Name(s): Lindheimer’s beeblossom, gaura, indian feather
Scientific NameGaura lindheimeri, oenothera lindheimeri
Family:Onagraceae
Zone:5-9
Height & Spread:2.5′ to 3′ tall and wide, with some cultivars up to 5′ tall
LightFull sun
SoilSandy loam, extremely well-drained
Water:Just enough to keep the soil damp, drought-tolerant
Pests & Diseases:Aphids, flea beetles, whiteflies, root rot, powdery mildew, rust

All About Lindheimer’s Beeblossom

Siskiyou Pink gaura lindheimeri
Siskiyou Pink, a pink gaura cultivar, is where most pink gauras derive their lineage. Source: blackpictures

Native to North America, gaura lindheimeri is most commonly found in Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana. An herbaceous perennial, it can reach heights of up to 5 feet tall. Its stems are clad with long, spearpoint-like leaves about 3″ in length. The flower spikes are wiry and tall, with pinkish buds that open to become pink or white flowers.

Part of family Onagraceae, it’s a species of Oenothera. In fact, a synonym for its botanical name is Oenothera lindheimeri! Some of its common names include Indian feather, Lindheimer’s clockweed, white gaura, pink gaura, and of course Lindheimer’s beeblossom.

From early spring until the first frosts in the fall, it will bloom. This long bloom time has a lot to do with how it flowers. Only a few blossoms appear at at time on each of the flower spikes. As they fade and drop from the stem, new ones open.

Each flower has four petals and a little cluster of long stamens which burst from the center of the flower. The four petals look a bit like the shape of a butterfly, which is where cultivars like “Whirling Butterflies” get their name. A sport of the original known as Siskiyou Pink is what all pink-colored gaura is derived from.

Gaura lindheimeri can be container-grown, but does just as well as a border plant or clustered together in a garden bed. It’s a prized addition for a native plant garden.

The plant has won the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit for several varieties. Popular cultivars include:

  • Siskiyou Pink: A rose-pink cultivar which forms from deep maroon buds, averaging 18-24″ tall
  • Whirling Butterflies: White flowers with reddish stems, averaging 2-5 feet tall
  • Cherry Brandy: A deep rose pink gaura with ruby-colored buds, more compact at 12-18″ tall
  • Corrie’s Gold: White flowers tinged with pink. The foliage is edged with yellow, and compact at 18″
  • Snowstorm: A white variety which is not as cold-hardy as others, but flowers heavily

Care

Gaura foliage
The foliage of gaura lindheimeri is bright green, with spearlike leaves. Source: anthony_mendoza

Care for your gaura lindheimeri is relatively simple. In the wild, it likes to sprawl, making it perfect for a natural wildflower garden. However, it can be maintained in more formal beds as well. Let’s go over care tips for this lovely plant!

Light and Temperature

Sunlight is not a challenge for gaura lindheimeri. While in the hottest climates it enjoys a little afternoon shade, it can be grown in full sun quite easily. It performs best in zones 5-9.

In colder climates, the plant will die back to its woody taproot when the weather shifts towards winter. It’s important to provide a heavy winter mulch to protect the roots, as it can die from cold exposure.

Water and Humidity

Somewhat drought tolerant, gaura lindheimeri performs best with consistently damp soil. It’ll hang on during the drier times of year, but may not flower as heavily if it’s thirsty.

These plants are surprisingly tolerant of humidity. However, they don’t perform well in soggy soil.

Soil

Soil for this plant should be sandy or loamy and extremely well-drained. These plants don’t like to have soggy taproots! Overly-rich soils can cause the plant to grow rapidly, resulting in spindly stems that flop over. Providing a soil that will hold a small amount of moisture but which isn’t too nutrient-dense will result in the best growth.

Fertilizer

Gaura flowers
White gaura flowers rise above a green, leafy base plant. Source: douneika

As mentioned above, too rich of a soil causes the plant to spike in growth, causing spindly stems. It will perform fine in poor soils or low-fertilizer situations.

You can generally skip the fertilizer. If you want, you add a little compost around the base of the plant in the fall before mulching it thickly for winter protection. The compost breaks down into the soil over the winter and provides plenty of food for new growth.

Propagation

Gaura lindheimeri is propagated by cuttings or from seed.

When taking cuttings, be sure to use a rooting hormone to help them develop good roots. Care for your cuttings as you would other species. The cuttings should be taken from the base of the plant in the summer.

Seed is only viable for the base plant and a few of its cultivars. Not all cultivars will form true to their type from seed. It’s more reliable to propagate this plant from cuttings.

Pruning

Prune your gaura twice a year.

Once will be in the late winter or early spring. This pruning encourages a flush of new growth and ensures any winter-killed foliage is removed. Cut back up to half the plant.

In the late summer, you can do another pruning to remove spent flowers, stem tips, and excess leggy growth. This one should not be as severe as the spring pruning, and you shouldn’t remove more than 1/3rd of the plant.

Troubleshooting

Pink gaura flowers
Pink gaura cultivars produce showy, vividly-pink blooms from red buds. Source: Daniel Escudero de Félix

Oenothera lindheimeri has very few serious issues. Let’s go over those which may arise.  

Growing Problems

While drought resistant, gaura is not immune to heat. In extremely hot weather, the leaves may curl or develop reddish edges. You can cut back the plant a bit to try to reinvigorate the remainder, but it may be easier to water your garden consistently.

Due to the long taproot, gaura plants aren’t easy to transplant. That long root makes them less at risk from drought, but it also is easily broken or damaged. Once you’ve selected a location, plan to keep them there permanently.

Pests

Most insects aren’t interested in gaura. In fact, the most likely pests you’ll find are aphids at the tips of the flower stem. Whiteflies and flea beetles are occasionally present as well. We’ve compiled in-depth articles on managing all of these pests, chock-full of methods of keeping them at bay!

Diseases

While disease can appear, it’s not common. Those you’re likely to find on your plants are easy to prevent.

Root rot tends to flourish in soil that isn’t well-drained. Ensure your plants are in soil with good drainage, as their taproot is susceptible to this problem.

Powdery mildew is easily treatable, as is rust. Both of these are fungally-based as well. Fungicidal sprays or neem oil applied to your plants will clean these issues up rapidly.

Frequently Asked Questions

White gaura flowers
Lovely white gaura flowers have long stamens radiating out from a four-petaled bloom. Source: Linda DV

Q: Is gaura lindheimeri a perennial?

A: Yes! Gaura plants are perennial in most of their growing zones. In other areas, they can be grown as drought resistant annual plants.

Q: Does gaura die back in winter?

A: In conditions where it’s too cold for your plant, it can. This is most common among zone 5 growers, or people in colder climates. If you’re in a cold area, grow it as an annual.


The Green Thumbs Behind This Article:

Kevin Espiritu
Founder

Clarisa Teodoro

Lorin Nielsen
Lifetime Gardener

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