Oenothera suffrutescens (Scarlet Gaura)

Scientific Name

Oenothera suffrutescens (Ser.) W. L. Wagner & Hoch

Common Names

Scarlet Gaura, Scarlet Beeblossom, Wild Honeysuckle


Gaura suffrutescens (basionym), Gaura coccinea, Gaura odorata

Scientific Classification

Family: Onagraceae
Subfamily: Onagroideae
Tribe: Onagreae
Genus: Oenothera


Color: White, pink, red
Bloom Time:  April to June


Oenothera suffrutescens is an erect perennial herb that grows from a woody base and heavy roots. The stems may reach up to 4 inches (10 cm) tall. They are often covered in tiny, stiff hairs. The thin to thick clumps of stems are covered in linear to somewhat oval-shaped, up to 3 inches (7.5 cm) long leaves. Top stems are spike inflorescences of several flowers each. The flower has four long stiff sepals that open and fall away from the flower to lie reflexed toward the stem. There are four spoon-shaped petals that are white to yellowish and may turn pink with age. Each flower has eight long stamens with large red, pink, or yellowish anthers arranged around a long stigma. Fruits are woody, up to 0.4 inches (1 cm) long capsules.

Oenothera suffrutescens - Scarlet Gaura

How to Grow and Care

Oenothera plants can be propagated by dividing established clumps in spring or fall. Softwood cuttings may be struck in late spring. Easy to grow Oenothera seeds can be sown directly in the garden in late summer, early fall, or planted early in the spring.

Just cover the tiny seeds, and germinate at 65° to 70°F (18° to 21°C). Seeds require darkness to break dormancy. Space plants 5 to 9 inches (13 to 23 cm) apart. Plant in light, well-drained soil with a pH of around 5.5 to 7.0. Sandy soil works well for this plant.

Oenothera is tolerant of dry and is a good candidate for xeriscaping. In really fertile soil, the foliage can be robust, but fewer flowers form. Top dress with fully composted manure in the spring. Provide irrigation during long hot spells, and cut the plants back by a third after flowering to keep them looking neat. Hot summer weather may cause the plants to briefly stop flowering. Powdery mildew sometimes appears in humid conditions. See more at How to Grow and Care for Oenothera.


Native to North America.


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