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A gaura plant with white flowers growing from tall thin stems.
Gaura, or butterfly bush, is so named for its pink or white flowers which grow on long, thin stems and appear to dance above the foliage like butterflies. Although gaura looks delicate, it’s a hardy perennial plant that can tolerate both hot and cold conditions.

What you need to know about gaura

Name: gaura, butterfly bush, wand flower, Gaura lindheimeri and cultivars.

Height: 40cm-150cm.

Plant type: herbaceous perennial.

Climate: warm and cool temperate, subtropical, arid.

Soil: well-drained.

Position: full sun.

Foliage: small, narrow, green or burgundy leaves.

Flowers: masses of pink or white flowers on long, thin stalks.

Feeding: liquid feed when flowering.

Watering: water regularly when dry.

Appearance and characteristics of gaura

Gaura is a sweet but tough perennial with small, narrow leaves and long-lasting pink or white flowers that appear on tall, slender stems from late spring to autumn.

Gaura has a relaxed growth habit. It grows well in most climates and is tolerant of heat and dry conditions, thanks to its deep taproot. It can also tolerate nutrient-poor soil, provided it is well drained.

Close up of a gaura plant with a few red flowers with white petals, growing from tall thin stems.

Uses for gaura

Gaura’s loose growth habit lends itself beautifully to cottage-style gardens. Pair it with other relaxed and textured perennials like lavender, rudbeckia, sedum and salvias. It looks wonderful as part of a mixed planting scheme in garden beds and rockeries, or along borders and paths.

How to grow gaura

Choose a spot in full sun with well-drained soil. Improve the soil with organic matter, and space plants at least 30cm apart to allow room for growth. Gaura can also be planted in pots with a premium quality potting mix.

Gaura is not tolerant of poorly drained soil and can develop root rot if it stays wet for long periods. In areas with high rainfall, plant in pots or raised garden beds that drain freely.

Caring for gaura

To maintain a tidy appearance, hard-prune gaura in autumn or once flowers have finished, cutting stems back to 15-20cm above ground level. New shoots will form in spring; these should be cut back by half when they are 20-30cm long to make the plant more compact and better able to support its growth.

A gaura plant with pink flowers growing from tall thin stems.

How often should you water and feed gaura?

Water plants regularly throughout the year but reduce watering frequency in winter. Established plants are drought tolerant but will perform better if watered regularly during extended dry periods. Feed in spring with a complete fertiliser.

Diseases and pests that affect gaura

Gaura is rarely troubled by pests or diseases. Aphids and spider mites may attack them, but these can be treated with an organic insecticide, if needed.

How to propagate gaura

The best way to propagate gaura is with softwood cuttings. Use a clean, sharp pair of secateurs to cut 15-20cm lengths of stem from the base of the plant just below a node (leaf joint). Strip all the foliage from the stems, leaving a pair of leaves at the top. Fill a pot with propagating mix and use a pencil or dibber to make planting holes. Dip the ends of the cuttings into a rooting hormone gel and insert into the pre-made holes. Backfill with potting mix, lightly press around the cuttings and water well.

Position in a warm, well-lit spot out of direct sunlight and water regularly to keep the mix moist. A plastic cover or cloche over the top of the pot will help maintain warmth and humidity, encouraging roots to develop faster.

If you like this, then try

Angelonia: this tough annual or perennial flowers profusely without much care.

Cosmos: a cottage-garden favourite with beautiful cup-shaped blooms on tall, slender stems.

Cuphea: low-growing perennial with masses of small flowers throughout the year.

Start planting today

Check out our wide range of plants now and get your garden growing!


Photo Credit: Getty Images

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