• July 23, 2014

Perennial with pizazz

Pink Fountain gaura offers unbeatable texture

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Posted: Saturday, May 18, 2013 4:30 am | Updated: 1:19 pm, Mon Aug 19, 2013.

While the warm growing season has struggled to get established, the Pink Fountain gaura has been blooming with aplomb. The plant is so beautiful, it commands attention.

Botanically speaking it is known as Gaura lindheimeri and is in the family Onagraceae, meaning it is related to evening primrose and fuchsia. However, the look and texture of the gaura is not even close to these family members. It is native to Louisiana and Texas but is a cold-hardy perennial to zone 5. You can hardly beat that for a drought tolerant gorgeous perennial.

The official common name is Lindheimer’s beeblossom, which I can certainly accept. Some of the other names, like butterfly gaura, that reference the flowers’ resemblance to butterflies floating around in mid-air, and Indian feather, show this plant certainly offers an interesting texture for the garden.

Though a lot of gaura varieties have been introduced in the last decade, it is still a new plant to many gardeners. I suspect some of the reluctance in planting it may come from not knowing how to use it, coupled with the fact that it does have an arching-loose habit, which is a challenge for those who like control.

Gaura reaches 2½ to 4 feet in height and forms a long taproot allowing it to become very drought tolerant. It performs best in well-drained soil with full sun. You will be happy to know that this is one plant that does not need large quantities of organic matter or frequent applications of fertilizer to put on a good performance. Do however apply a good layer of mulch, especially in the colder zones.

The gaura tolerates heat and humidity, and puts on a great fall display if you cut it back in mid-summer, which normally coincides with a little lull in blooming.

Though gaura is a perennial, a dividing regimen is really not required. You may find you get a little reseeding, so just pluck the ones you do not want and transplant the others.

While they are not the showiest flowers in the garden, they still are ideal companion plants in the perennial border or for a cottage look.

By combining in close plantings with other perennials like rudbeckias, coreopsis, and blue salvias, you can create some wonderful if not dreamy partnerships.

© 2014 McClatchy-Tribune News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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