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Oenothera (ee-NOTH-eh-ruh)

Common Name:  Sundrops, evening primrose

Light:  - Full sun to part shade

Soil:  Average to rich, well-drained

Moisture:  Average, drought tolerant

Blooms:  Summer

Zones:  varies by type


Oenothera missouriensis

Oenothera speciosa

Oenothera Description and Cultural Information

Oenothera berlandieri, Mexican evening primrose. 1 - 2'. This plant has soft-pink flowers similar to the showy evening primrose, O. speciosa, but may be less aggressive. 'Siskiyou' has 2" pink flowers. 'Woodside White' has white flowers. Zones 6 - 8.

Oenothera fruticosa, sundrops. 18 - 24". Sundrops have upright, leafy stems with spotted red foliage. Flowers open from reddish buds during the day and are bright yellow. The plants are dense spreading. Zones 4 - 8.

Oenothera missouriensis, Ozark sundrops, Missouri primrose. 6 - 12". This sundrop has the largest flowers of the genus compared to its height, often up to 5" across. Blooms are a bright lemon-yellow above narrow, light-green foliage. It grows best in well-draining soil, planting the rhizomes with the growth tips 1/2 to 1" below soil level. Zones 4 - 7.

Oenothera speciosa, showy evening primrose. 1 - 2'. Although probably classified more as a weed than a perennial, the showy evening primrose is actually quite beautiful. It is an invasive, sprawling plant with a profusion of soft-pink flowers on wiry stems. 'Alba' has white flowers. Zones 5 - 8.

How to Grow:  Plant sundrops and evening primroses in average to rich, well-drained soil in full sun to part sun. Sundrops tend to grow from dense spreading roots or rhizomes that can be divided in early spring or fall. To control evening primrose (Oenothera speciosa), rip out unwanted plants regularly and spray with roundup often to at least give a sense that it might be under control. In other words, this particular species is a vigorous spreading, weed-like plant, and although it may die back some over a hard winter there will be plenty of seedlings ready to take their place.

Landscape uses:  The bright yellow sundrops look nice with other drought tolerant summer perennials such as catmint (Nepeta), Russian sage (Perovskia), yarrow (Achillea), Echinops, and ornamental grasses such as blue fescue or Japanese blood grass.

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