Growing Gaura: How To Care For The Gaura Plant

Gaura is a native of Mexico and Texas, and its Spanish name translates as “superb”. It is an attractive, drought-resistant shrub that does well in a sunny setting with light, well-drained soil.

In its original native form, it grows to a height of three feet and spreads to be about three feet wide. In climates that offer less sun, it may be a bit smaller, but it can still do quite well if you make sure it gets as much full sun as possible and provide good, airy soil type.

This easy-care plant is available in several varieties. It makes a beautiful addition to almost any garden. In this article, we will discuss the care of Gaura and share some ideas on how to use this cheery plant to best effect. Read on to learn more.

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The Right Variety Adds A Fresh Look To Your Summer Garden

Gaura is both pretty and tough. In hot, dry climates it adds a light, airy touch to the garden, especially toward the end of the summer when most plants are looking a bit ragged. After all your other flowers have finished blooming, Gaura with its star-shaped flowers will still be going strong, adding color and freshness to your garden setting.

Gaura is an excellent companion for your spring bulbs and tubers. When your irises and other bulbs have finished blooming, Gaura interspersed among the plants adds color while the iris leaves create a lovely backdrop.

Not only does this attractive herbaceous perennial add its own beauty and charm to your landscape, it also attracts butterflies for added flower color and interest.

Gaura Varieties

There are about 20 species of Gaura plants. All are comprised of perky dark green foliage and attractive, billowy flowers. Popular varieties include:

  • Whirling Butterfly
  • Butterfly Gaura
  • Biennial Gaura
  • Corrie’s Gold
  • Siskiyou Pink
  • Wandflower
  • White Gaura

Cultivars vary in size and can be used for several different purposes in the garden. Some smaller types never grow bigger than two feet high, and they make an excellent choice for creating a low border or for adding to rock gardens as single specimens.

There are also larger Gaura shrubs that can make a nice garden centerpiece surrounded by a collection of lower, colorful blooms. Among the taller varieties are Biennial Gaura and White Gaura. Both are in the five-foot height range.

Biennial Gaura puts on a lovely show throughout the growing season. Its stems are covered with fine hairs, and its blossoms change color from white to pink to coral red during the summer and into the autumn.

White Gaura is a native of the state of Texas. As such, it is very drought tolerant. It produces billows of delicate white flowers throughout the summer and fall.

How To Propagate Your Gaura Plants

It is easiest to grow these lovely shrubs and bushes from seed sown directly in the ground. You can purchase seed at your local garden center or online. Be sure to select a variety that will do well in your area.

Prepare your planting area by plowing very deeply and removing all weeds, debris, and rocks. You can sow your Gaura seed directly into your well-prepared bed when the weather turns warm and all danger of frost has passed.

Be sure to use a light soil with a high sand content. Understand that your prepared soil must be quite deep and fertile. Gaura puts down a long tap root, so the planting bed must enable this root to grow long and establish itself well. Excessive clay, heavy soil, or soil that does not drain well will prevent the development of a healthy tap root.

Take care to choose your site well. Because these plants have deep taproots, they do not like to be moved once established. Therefore, propagation by division is a less successful method.

Be sure to give your plants and bushes enough room to grow successfully. Give the smaller varieties about a foot of space all around. Larger shrubs should have at least 15 inches between bushes at the time of planting.

Avoid moving a stationary Gaura from one location in your yard or garden to another. The mature plants do not do well when they are dug up and moved. It’s better to begin anew with a different plant than to try to move an existing one.

Start Root Cuttings In Pots

If you are propagating by division, don’t simply plant your divided root balls in the ground. You must pot them and get them well-established before transplanting them to their permanent spots.

You can plant your potted Gaura seed into a well-prepared bed, or plant them as individual bushes and shrubs. To do this, you must dig a large hole that allows ample room for root growth. It should be the same depth as the pot your plant is in; however, it should be twice as wide.

Gently remove the plant from its pot and place it in the hole. Adjust by adding or removing soil so that the top of the root ball is even with the top of the hole. The roots should be covered in the ground just as they were in the pot.

Once you have carefully positioned the plant, fill in the hole with soil that will provide good drainage and root aeration. If your soil is heavy and/or has a high clay content, you must amend it with coarse sand and well-rotted manure to improve its condition.

It’s best to plant potted Gaura later in the growing season. Let your spring flowers have their day, and then as they are fading back, introduce Gaura to add a splash of color and life to your declining garden.

In fact, this plant comes in very handy as a filler. When your other plants start to wilt, you can simply cut them back and replace them with this pretty, rugged plant. These carefree plants cheerily fill empty spaces with billows of blossoms.

Water With Care

The taproot will constantly draw water from deep in the soil. Therefore, these lovely plants are drought-resistant. Remember to water very deeply, occasionally. Plants located in beds or in the yard or garden should be watered when the top couple of inches of the soil feel dry. Use a soaker hose or a slow trickle of water to water over an extended period to deliver deep, intensive watering.

Growing Gaura As A Potted Or Container Plant

If you do not have space outdoors to plant your Gaura directly in the ground, you can keep it as a container plant. Be sure to use a pot or container that will provide ample growing space. It should be a minimum of 12 inches deep and 10 inches wide.

The advantage of keeping Gaura as a container plant is that you can move it to catch the most sun throughout the growing season. This can improve the plant’s performance in settings that do not get massive amounts of sunshine all day.

To get abundant blooms throughout the summer and autumn, you must put your plant in a place where it will receive at least six hours of strong sunlight a day. While Gaura can withstand some wind, you should provide support to prevent damage and asymmetrical growth.

When keeping your Gaura in a pot or container, be very careful not to overwater as this will cause root rot. Check the surface of the soil every day, and water deeply when the top inch of soil is dry.

Caring For Your Gaura

It is easy to grow this plant if you can closely mimic the prairie conditions in its native land. [source]

As a native plant from hot, dry regions Gaura is not a heavy feeder. It does not need to be fertilized to stimulate blooming. On the contrary, it prefers poor soil.

Just be sure to work compost and/or manure into the soil when you introduce your plants to your garden. That should set them up for an excellent start in life. Excessive fertilizer is detrimental and can cause your Gaura to grow leggy and limp.

Encourage More Blooms

For a bushier plant, be sure to trim and shape the tips of the limbs regularly. While deadheading is not necessary, it can help encourage increased blooming.

When you see your Gaura flowers beginning to fade, cut them off at the base of the stalk. Keeping up with this can stimulate a second round of blooming in the autumn.

How To Over-Winter Your Gaura

In warmer areas where Gaura is native or could naturalize easily, you don’t need to do anything. Just leave the plants in place and allow the dead stems to stay as natural protection from the cold. You may also wish to add a layer of mulch to protect the roots.

If you live in a colder area where Gaura is not native and could not naturalize, mulch is a necessity for wintertime protection. This is especially true if you live in an area that is lower than USDA Hardiness Zone 8. [source]

Are These Plants Susceptible To Pests And Diseases?

For the most part, Gaura is pest and disease-free. You may occasionally notice dark spots on the leaves, but don’t despair! This is normal coloration.

Gauri’s main enemy is root rot, which you can avoid completely by providing good, light, airy soil. Also, take great care not to over-water.

Celebrate With Gaura

Once you learn how very easy it is to grow, care for, and propagate these beautiful, colorful plants you will surely want to collect several varieties. Used as a border, a low privacy hedge, a container plant or a bright spot of color at summer’s end, Gaura is a delightful, sturdy, fast-growing addition to any garden.

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