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Tuesday - May 10, 2011

From: Kyle, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Problems with gaura in Kyle TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford


Gaura - I seem to have something going on with this plant. I've tried fungicide that also works on mealy bugs and spider mites, etc., but they're looking rather puny? Any suggestions? thanks


According to our Native Plant Database, there are 12 species of the genus Gaura native to Texas, but only 2, Gaura drummondii (Drummond's beeblossom) and Gaura lindheimeri (Lindheimer's beeblossom) grow natively in Central Texas. Ordinarily, plants will do better in the area to which they are native, having been adapted by centuries of experience to the soils, climate and rainfall of that area. This is somewhat complicated by the fact that gauras have been widely hybridized and, depending on where you got your plant, may not be native nor well adapted to this area at all. Then, of course, we have to factor in the heat/cold/heat again/severe drought we have been experiencing this year, and it's no wonder that a plant can have problems, although "puny" is a little difficult to diagnose.

So, even though we can't be sure which gaura you are trying to grow in Hays County, nor even what bug may or may not be on it, let's see if we can figure out the problem. We looked at a number of websites and got the following possibilities: downy and powdery mildew, rust or leaf spots (but rarely), root rot in heavy wet soil, aphids, fungus gnats and whiteflies.

Now, it's your turn to be detective. First, we would recommend no more fungicide until you can establish if there is a fungus (and perhaps producing fungus gnats). Just spraying something, anything on an ailing plant will more likely add to its problems than otherwise. Looking at Gaura lindheimeri (Lindheimer's beeblossom), here are the optimum growing conditions for this plant, see if they are the conditions under which your plant is growing:

"Water Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist
Cold Tolerant: yes
Soil Description: Variable. Sandy, Sandy Loam, Medium Loam Clay Loam, Clay, Acid-based, Calcareous.
Conditions Comments: Open vase-shaped plant, branches arching in many directions. Leaf color is dark green in summer, and red, gold or purple in the fall. The flower, white fading pink, has only a few flowers open at a time with new ones opening as stalks grow throughout most. Flowers open in early morning. Tolerant of high heat. Flower fragrance has sometimes been compared to cat urine. Can be invasive."

Okay, next we're going to assign homework. We will give you a list of links to some of the insects and problems that might be causing the problem, with pictures of the bugs and suggestions for treatment.

Mealy bugs (is a kind of aphid)

Spider mites

Rust on plants

Powdery mildew


Fungus gnats



From the Image Gallery

Lindheimer's beeblossom
Oenothera lindheimeri

Lindheimer's beeblossom
Oenothera lindheimeri

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