When I received my first wildflower seed catalog, gaura (also known as “Appleblossom Grass”) was the first plant I fell in love with. I sowed the native Texas variety from seed last fall (which is showing leaves in various parts of my yard now). “Siskyou Pink” is the first variety I planted, in spring of 2006, in my very first garden bed, which has now become my wildflower bed. It is supposed to be a hardy plant in summer but many perennials disappeared in the summer heat of August and September which still have not reappeared. I was surprised to see how much this plant had shriveled after a month-long trip away from Austin in the summer, but loved it so much that I went out and bought another that fall.
I watered the new one a lot more and kept it in its gallon container all winter long where it started showing new leaves and growing and growing. It was one of the first flowers to bloom in March and shot out these lovely, wispy delicate flowers that just blow in the breeze. It is often called a “butterfly flower” not just because it attracts butterflies but the flowers themselves look like hovering dainty butterflies themselves. Doesn’t seem like most people would showcase this plant but I bought a beautiful pot just for her, because she’s worth being seen.
This plant is much more established than her predecessor, having been through winter, so we’ll see how she makes it through summer in a container.
Update June 8 2007: I have several varieties of gaura growing around my house. I really love this plant and while it’s not a dramatic plant, it is worth showcasing just because it’s so delicate and mysterious. Many describe gaura as a ‘butterfly plant’ not just because it attracts butterflies (and hummingbirds, as well) but the flowers–tiny things which bloom on the end of long, thin wand-like branches–look like butterflies themselves in the wind. It also makes a beginner like me look good because it doesn’t require much care to become a show-off plant.
Since planting my first gaura, I’ve also sowed native Texan seed (a white gaura) and planted a few other varieties varying in leaf and flower color. The leaves can range from light green to a deep jade green tinged with maroon, and the flowers vary in pink intensity or sometimes are entirely white.
According to the Native American Seed Co., gauras easily hybridize in nature which makes all the different species hard to identify. There are 14 known natives in Texas. It is a beautiful plant and I wonder why I haven’t seen it more often in gardens.
Update November 2008: I am on a hunt for more gaura plants but can’t seem to find any for fall planting at the nurseries right now. I hoped to find them since I have a spot finally where these can show off their best. Unfortunately, due to all our garden construction this summer I had to move many plants around and the gauras were the first to be transplanted, in the dead heat of July (like 110 on its worst day), and these didn’t survive the move. Thankfully, the roses survived!