Photo: protoflux (flickr)
Many of our native plants form deep roots that make them difficult to move, but this is also a virtue as it makes them drought tolerant.
Gaura is one with a deep tap root and the species most frequently grown in zones 5 through 9 is Gaura lindheimeri, which is a shrubby 3-4 feet tall perennial with airy panicles of white flowers that change to pink during summer and fall.
The cultivar ‘Whirling Butterflies’ has a name that matches exactly how it looks as its dainty white spires of tiny blossoms move in the breeze.
There are also handsome bright pink cultivars such as ‘Pink Fountain’ and another ‘Crimson Butterflies’ which is more compact and has red foliage that glows on hot days.
Gaura must have good drainage to thrive and tolerates humidity and also light shade though performs best in full sun. Propagate by taking cuttings from shoots at the base of the plants in the spring.
These are valuable plants to create an airy contrast with plants with mounded, denser habits.
They also provide excellent cut flowers, adding height and an airy effect to an arrangement. They also look delicate on their own in a narrow-necked vase.
When you plant Gaura, be sure to amend the soil if you have clay, so that it persists well in your garden.