Gaura lindheimeri is for me a very frustrating plant!
I spend several months of the year getting cross and vowing to pull it out and then it does this …
And all is forgiven!
I have in fact dug one of the plants I had in my border out, vowing to give it to Elizabeth as I think it will be more suited to her garden than mine. Mine has grown lush and leggy, forget the 1.5 – 2 feet spacing that is recommended on seed packets, here mine lurches through the border. In the damp soil and the last two wet summer we have had, the lax stems lie along the ground for 12 – 24 inches before deigning to rise vertically upwards. Yes I pinch it out to keep it “compact and bushy” does it listen? No it does not.
To be honest, my irritation with Gaura starts in the Spring, the new leaves always appear with with dark spots on them looking for all the world like Black spot, but its not, apparently it is normal for the leaves to have dark spots.
Gaura lindheimeri is easy to grow from seed, and will flower in its first year. The secret is not to plant it out too early or too small, it is better to keep pinching them back and potting them on and plant into the garden in July when something else has “gone over”and been cut back. Although they flower for months, and can start as early as May for an established plant, they really come into their own late in the season and mine will probably continue flowering until November now. As they are considered slightly tender, (ie Hardiness H3 -may need some winter protection) it is always worthwhile and very easy to take cuttings, which need to be overwintered in a frost free area. It is also not long lived, unless you have very free draining soil. Which I don’t have, but Elizabeth does.
Gaura really do add movement to the late summer border and it is easy to see where the name whirling butterflies came from as the white flowers dance in the slightest breeze (So obviously here on the coast they are doing a fandango most of the time). I noticed earlier in the year that there were a lot of G. ’Siskiyou Pink’ around, even in some supermarkets! This is a slightly smaller and pink version of the White form and for a moment I was tempted, but I resisted.
I am undecided if I will have this in the garden next year, as a compromise I will take cuttings … but will it make the final cut? I really don’t know.
So, if you were wondering whether to include this perennial in your own planting scheme, this post has been worse than useless (sorry). The RHS has given it an Award of garden Merit – so that is a plus and just now, in my garden it is looking quite dreamy!