Has anyone been successful in keeping their wandflower/gaura plants as perennials? I planted them for the first time last year and absolutely loved them. So I went back and bought more, and more, and more. Well, even though we had the mildest winter in 100 years only 2 of the 10 I planted made it through the winter. Has anyone in zone 6 or lower gotten multiple years out of their plants?
They're supposed to be hardy to zone 6, so if you're in zone 6 or 7 and they're not overwintering then it could be something like soil staying to wet in the winter which is doing them in vs the cold on its own. I know with some other drought-tolerant plants staying overly wet in the winter can definitely shorten their lifespan. If you can improve the drainage in the bed(s) they're in that might improve their chances.
I took cuttings in the fall counting on my plant not returning. I think my soil is well draining but when I plant the cuttings will mix in some sand in the area. I was also thinking of planting in a very large pot. What do you think?
Warmer here. Planted 3, 3 years ago. Coming back beautifully. 'Ballerina Rose' variety. I become more fond of them every year. I am going to have to move one, however, as it is too close to my laurel hedge. We have a thread on 'perennials' forum from a few months back about what to pair with your gaura. Lots of photos there from people.
Planting things in a pot tends to knock about a zone off their hardiness (soil in a container isn't nearly as well insulated as in the ground) so I'm not sure that would work, although since you're in zone 7 it might work if the soil in the container drains a lot better than your garden bed.
Also, for amending your bed I'd work in compost or something rather than sand, that'll work better for improving the soil. Planting in a raised bed or at the top of a slope can also improve drainage.
I think compost would hold too much moisture -- they rot out really easily. If you can add pine bark and grit -- something like Tapla's formula -- you might have luck. I haven't been able to overwinter them, but our soil is clay, and even with amendments it is soggy in winter.
When I lived on the eastern end of LI, zone 6 then, now zone 7, they never came back. At my first house, the soil was very sandy- I used to say if you dug down a foot you'd be at the beach. I amended liberally with composted eelgrass collected from local inlets, very light in texture but packed with good nutrients. I blamed exposure to winter north winds. The second location had once been farmland, and was extremely fertile. It was much more sheltered, enclosed by high hedges, so I tried again, and again had no luck.
I guess in these zones it's a question of micro-climates, maybe no way to find out except by trial and error.
For me they have a tendency to vanish from one location and pop up elsewhere. I don't know whether they're self-seeding or propagating by rhizomes. I put in a cultivar with picotee flowers last year, so I'll see what happens with it; the others were supposedly "Whirling Butterflies" but I can't tell them from the species, so can't rule out self-seeding.
Micro: I have had Gaura 'Whirling Butterflies' for years now that I started from seed. It was first in heavy clay soil with a south full sun exposure. Then, I moved it to a garden that is full of Kwanzan Cherry roots and gets shade from the tree. It's in the corner of two sidewalks. It is big and full. The soil is lousy there. I haven't been able to amend the soil because of the tree roots. Sometimes, I think flowers do better if they are grown from seed as they are acclimated to the garden from the get go.
I must say, I did have a Gaura lindheirmeri 'Siskiyou Pink', and it did not return. I thought it was something I did. It was in better soil and had good drainage. Maybe the white ones are more hardy; although, the S.P. is suppose to be hardy to zone 5. I just bought Gauras from the clearance rack from Lowe's that are pink, but I don't remember which cultivar right now. They were gallon pots for $3.00.
So, I would like to have some ideas from the DG's as to what companions you planted with the pink Gauras??? I am thinking about putting them around or near my red Japanese Maple.
I have Gaura planted in a sandy spot left over from construction. It has returned for 4 years so far. It might be a soil issue which can be helped by amending soil before planting. They also love blazing full sun.
ecrane: thanks for your suggestion. Nepeta looks good with about everything, and I really like it.
My brother has four gauras planted around his Japanese Maple. They must have lucked out. I have planted stuff and later found out it wasn't supposed to be in shade or sun or clay etc. and the plants have made it. I guess sometimes ignorance is bliss. And, gardening is always trial and error.
echinacea: what did you plant near your gaura?