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. Gaura does well in a sunny setting with light, well-drained soil.

In its original native form, it grows to a height of 36″ inches tall and spreads about three feet wide. In climates offering less sun, it may be a bit smaller. But, Gaura can still do quite well if given as much full sun as possible and provided good, airy soil.

flowers of the Gaura plant
Blooming Gaura plants | Olivier Tabary-Adobe

This easy-care plant is available in several varieties. It makes a beautiful addition to almost any garden. Let’s look at the care of Gaura and share some ideas on how to use this cheery plant to best effect.

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. When most plants are looking a bit ragged towards the end of the summer Gaura delivers.

After other flowers finish blooming, Gaura’s star-shaped flowers will still be going strong. The white flowers turn to pink in your garden setting adding color and freshness.

Gaura is an excellent companion for spring bulbs and tubers.

Gaura’s ‘whirling butterflies’ interspersed among the plants adds color. When the iris and other bulbs finish blooming the iris leaves create a lovely backdrop.

This attractive herbaceous perennial adds its own beauty and charm to your landscape. It attracts butterflies for added flower color and interest from late spring through fall.

Gaura Varieties

There are about 20 species of Gaura perennial plants like the Gaura Belleza Dark Pink. 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 –  (Gaura lindheimer) rose pink flowers
  • Wandflower
  • White Gaura

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

There are also larger Gaura plants. These make nice centerpieces in the garden 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. Fine hairs cover the stems. The flowers of whirling butterflies 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 buy seeds 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 removing all weeds, debris, and rocks. Plow the area and deep seed the well-prepared bed when the weather turns warm and all danger of frost passes.

Be sure to use a light soil with a high sand content. The 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 planting site well. Because these plants have deep taproots, they do not like to be moved once established. So, 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 plant your divided root balls in the ground. You must pot them and get them well-established before transplanting to their permanent spots.

You can plant your potted Gaura seed in 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. But, it should be twice as wide.

Gently remove the plant from its pot and place it in the hole. Add or remove soil so that the top of the root ball is even with the top of the hole. Cover the roots in the ground as they were in the pot.

Once you have positioned the plant, fill in the hole with soil that will provide good drainage and root aeration. Improve heavy or high clay soil by adding coarse sand and well-rotted manure.

It’s best to plant potted Gaura later in the growing season. Let your spring flowers have their day. 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 other plants start to wilt, cut them back and replace them with this pretty, rugged plant. These carefree plants fill empty spaces with billows of blossoms.

Water With Care

The taproot of the Gaura plant draws water from deep in the soil. But, these lovely plants are drought-resistant. Remember to water deeply on occasion.

Water plants located in beds, in the yard or garden when the top couple of inches of the soil feel dry. Use a soaker hose or a slow trickle of 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 Gaura in the ground, you can keep it as a container plant. Be sure to use a pot or container with ample growing space. It should be at least of 12″ inches deep and 10″ inches wide.

Keeping Gaura as a container plant has one advantage. You can move the plant around to catch the most sun throughout the growing season.

This can improve the plant’s performance in areas that do not get massive amounts of sunshine all day.

For abundant blooms throughout the summer and autumn, make sure your plant receives at least six hours of strong sunlight a day. While Gaura can withstand some wind, 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.

Gaura Plant Care

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 the flower stems off at the base of the stalk. Keeping up with this can stimulate a second round of blooming in the autumn.

Gaura Care In Winter

In warmer areas where Gauras is native or naturalize easily, you don’t need to do anything. Leave the plants in place and allow the dead stems to stay as natural protection from the cold. Add a layer of mulch to protect the roots.

If you live in a colder area where Gaura will 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 climate zone 8. [source]

Gaura Problems Pests And Diseases?

For the most part, Gaura is pest and disease-free. Aphids can attack in early summer.

You may on occasion notice dark spots on the leaves, but don’t despair! This is normal coloration.

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

Celebrate With Gaura

Gaura is easy to grow, care for, and propagate. Soon you will want to collect several of these beautiful, colorful plant varieties.

Use them 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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