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A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Wednesday - July 16, 2014

From: Belle Vernon, PA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Gaura Plants Dying In PA
Answered by: Anne Van Nest

QUESTION:

I had six gaura plants. They were beautiful last year. Now I have one that is doing well and the others are dying slowly one at a time. I don't understand this. They are on a slight slope and have good drainage. They started off in the spring very well. Please help.

ANSWER:

Most likely the gaura that you are growing is Lindheimer's beeblossom (Gaura lindheimeri). This one is frequently found in nurseries and garden centers. The plant has a small basal rosette of leaves and long stems carrying delicate flowers that blow in the breeze. The flowers appear in the early summer and if the plant is cut back in midsummer the plant will likely regrow and bloom again in the fall.

Gaura are tolerant of many types of soil from sandy to clay and acidic to alkaline. Gaura naturally grow in grassy meadows, among pine trees and along pond edges. Full sun is best for encouraging blooms but they will tolerate a little shade (at the expense of blooms). A moist soil is best.

The Missouri Botanical Garden suggests that Gaura lindheimeri is best grown in sandy, loamy, well-drained soils in full sun. They also say that good drainage is essential. Root rot may occur in heavy, poorly drained soils. Gaura is a tap rooted plant which tolerates heat, humidity and some drought. Remove spent flower spikes to prolong bloom period. Thin flower stems tend to become leggy and flop, particularly when grown in rich soils, and plants can benefit from close planting or support from adjacent perennials. Plants (particularly those which typically grow tall) may be cut back in late spring by 1/2 to control size. May self-seed if spent flower stems are left in place in the fall.

 

From the Image Gallery


Lindheimer's beeblossom
Oenothera lindheimeri

Lindheimer's beeblossom
Oenothera lindheimeri

Lindheimer's beeblossom
Oenothera lindheimeri

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