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Perennials: Success with Gaura/Wandflower as a perennial?

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microbiology1
Foxboro, MA

May 7, 2012
4:04 PM

Post #9114536

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?
springcolor
Lake Stevens, WA

May 7, 2012
4:57 PM

Post #9114629

I'm warmer than you and they never winter over for me here! Zone 7
pirl
(Arlene) Southold, NY
(Zone 7a)

May 7, 2012
5:04 PM

Post #9114639

Zone 7 here, too, and they always overwinter for me.
ecrane3
Dublin, CA
(Zone 9a)

May 7, 2012
7:44 PM

Post #9114957

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.
springcolor
Lake Stevens, WA

May 7, 2012
10:08 PM

Post #9115099

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?
kosk0025
Salem, OR
(Zone 8b)

May 8, 2012
6:44 AM

Post #9115369

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.
ecrane3
Dublin, CA
(Zone 9a)

May 8, 2012
6:46 AM

Post #9115371

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.
happy_macomb
Chevy Chase, MD
(Zone 7a)

May 9, 2012
8:56 AM

Post #9117180

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.
Pfg
(Pam) Warren, CT
(Zone 5b)

May 9, 2012
11:25 AM

Post #9117377

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.

Pam
microbiology1
Foxboro, MA

May 9, 2012
11:52 AM

Post #9117407

Well at least I'm not alone! I guess I'll have to save some seeds this year if the 2 remaining ones bloom.
dawnsharon2001
New York, NY
(Zone 7a)

May 11, 2012
4:52 PM

Post #9120283

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.
birder17
Jackson, MO
(Zone 6b)

May 11, 2012
9:05 PM

Post #9120541

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.

Found this article:
http://www.life123.com/home-garden/flower-guides/flowering-perennials/gaura-graceful-bee-blossom.shtml
ecrane3
Dublin, CA
(Zone 9a)

May 12, 2012
6:48 AM

Post #9120809

Gaura and Japanese maple have different cultural requirements so I don't know that they would be the best things to plant together.

I've planted my Gaura with a low-growing Nepeta and it looked really nice.
echinaceamaniac
(Clint) Medina, TN
(Zone 7b)

May 12, 2012
9:19 AM

Post #9120962

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.
birder17
Jackson, MO
(Zone 6b)

May 12, 2012
6:18 PM

Post #9121405

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?
echinaceamaniac
(Clint) Medina, TN
(Zone 7b)

May 12, 2012
6:27 PM

Post #9121413

I planted Russian Sage, Agastache, and some Red False Yuccas. I have these around the mailbox. It's kind of wild looking, but I like it. LOL.
birder17
Jackson, MO
(Zone 6b)

May 12, 2012
6:53 PM

Post #9121451

echinacea, sounds pretty. They all work in good drainage and sun. Thanks for sharing.

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