Don’t feel too bad if you’ve never heard of gaura (Gaura lindheimeri), as this plant and its genus have a naming problem.
Other occasionally used common names include apple blossom grass, bee blossom, wand flower, or white gaura.
While widely rejected, the plant and its genus were renamed, making this plant’s official name Oenothera lindheimeri.
However, you might have heard of its many nicknames, including:
- Appleblossom grass
- Wand flower
- White gaura
There are also many cultivars for this interesting ornamental plant.
One of the most popular cultivars of this plant is the gaura whirling butterflies, named due to its butterfly-like appearance.
But gaura makes for an excellent companion plant beyond some fascinating names.
Gaura Plant Companions
Guara is a surprisingly hardy plant featuring a basal clump of narrow lanceolate leaves with irregular teeth.
Amidst the leaves are tall stalks, giving the plant a total height of between 20″ and 60” inches, depending on the time of year.
The white flowers emerge from pink buds and have four upwards-facing petals with 8 long, downward-facing stamens.
The narrow, lance-shaped leaves are entire or faintly and irregularly toothed. Leaves may be wavy, and some are spotted with maroon.
This gives them the appearance of butterflies or moths flying down the plant, which becomes even more impressive whenever there’s a light breeze to send them dancing.
This is where the plant also becomes beneficial as well as ornamental.
The flowers attract bees, butterflies, and even some birds.
If pruned after the first blooms fade around midsummer, you can usually get a second round of blooms.
Gaura starts blooming in early summer, producing long, branched; wiry flower stems that continue to elongate throughout the extended blooming period until hard frost.
Another good advantage is the deep taproot, which means this drought-hardy plant can be placed beside more demanding plants safely, as long as the soil is well-draining and not too wet.
One of the best features of gaura plants is the long bloom time, much longer than most perennials. Being deer-resistant, it can also help protect more susceptible plants.
Thanks to the magic of cultivars, you can get smaller, more compact, or even different bloom colors to fit in with your garden better.
This vivid display of purple will look charming when you add gaura geyser white (Oenothera lindheimeri), or even pink gaura (Siskiyou pink) to your garden bed. Lavender should be planted in full sun, or it will not produce flowers.
Finally, the plant can be used as a sacrificial plant for Japanese beetles while attracting birds and other natural predators of this pest.
Gaura’s Floral Companions
What to plant with Gaura? Several plants work great with Gaura.
The following are just a sampling of gaura whirling butterflies companion plants to get you started.
These popular flowers require almost no maintenance and areperfect white gaura companion plants.
The dark green leaves complement the gaura’s medium green to burgundy foliage, while the varied blooms provide a wonderful display.
While peonies like moist soil, their roots are much shallower than gaura, so they help ensure the latter’s taproot doesn’t get too wet.
There’s a wide range of options regarding phlox, some of which are excellent groundcovers while others make perfect borders.
Many newer cultivars are mildew-resistant, and the more shallow roots make them a great companion for the deep-rooted gaura.
Even better, phlox has a wide range of colors, and the taller varieties make for nice support for gaura stalks that get a little too top-heavy.
Russian Sage (Salvia Yangii)
Russian sage is one of the best types of sage to pair with ornamental grasses.
The aromatic foliage is pleasant to humans but can help repel many pests.
These wonderful plants produce tall spikes of violet-blue flowers between August and September.
The greyish-green foliage is also an excellent complement to gaura.
For a bit of extra finesse, try the cultivar ‘Blue Spire.’
Types of Gaura
Gaura lindheimeri – ‘Crimson Butterflies’ with burgundy foliage, red stems, and bright pink flowers; this plant stands out anywhere you put it. It grows up to 5 feet tall in Zones 5–8.
Gaura lindheimeri – ‘Whirling Butterflies’ is a clump-forming perennial native to the American South.
Gaura Planting Ideas
While we’ve already mentioned a few great companions, plenty of more out there work best in specific garden themes or functions.
The following are some different places where you can use gaura and some plants that complement gaura nicely in those places.
If you live in warmer climates, companion plants for Gaura include mixing these perennial borders alongside them:
- Artemisia schmidtiana ‘Nana’
- Autumn sage (Salvia greggii)
- Cleveland sage (Salvia clevelandii)
- Geranium ‘Rozanne’
- Grosso lavender (Lavandula intermedia var. Grosso)
- Meadow sage (Salvia sylvestris)
- Mexican bush sage (Salvia leucantha)
- Weigela florida ‘Magical Fantasy’
When added to flowering shrubs, aim for broadleaf specimens, which work very well with the thinner gaura leaves.
Some excellent choices include gardenias, hostas, lantanas, and roses.
Sometimes, you just want to group a bunch of plants together to create a single display.
The variable height of these plants allows for a blend of foliage and flowers and the ability to hide unsightly foundations or make walls more interesting.
- Catmint (Nepata spp.)
- Jupiter’s Beard (Centranthus ruber coccineus)
- Karl Foerster grass
When you want to imitate a midwestern prairie (or simply want to fill out a field), gaura makes for a great match with the following:
- Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta)
- Brown-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia triloba)
- Pink roses
- Purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)
- Purpletop vervain (Verbena bonariensis)
- Russian Sage
Additionally, you can choose almost any native or ornamental grass to fill in the gaps.