Once native only to northeastern Mexico and the grasslands of 5 south-central US states, Pink Oenothera has spread through about 2/3s of country.
More than likely visitors to those states found the foot high colonies of this pink evening primrose with their nodding buds and cup shaped blooms irresistibly charming and took some home with them. Even those passing at night when the moon was full could be drawn to its brightness.
Armed with a knowledge of its characteristics almost anyone can find a place of welcome for pink evening primrose (Oenothera) in their borders or gardens. It requires a little watching and eventually the flick of a wrist to pull out plants that pop up where they are not wanted but the beauty and value of this plant are worth that little bit of effort to control it.
Not only is the bloom beautiful, but it blooms aboout 2 months inthe spring (May and June in my garden), diminishing with hot weather although not entirely. This sun lover is hardy and drought resistant, surviving in dry and moist conditions as long as the soil is well drained.
It is a good nectar source for bees and butterflies and birds like the goldfinch love its seed. Contrary to its name it stays open all day.
They tend to be surreptitiously invasive and it is this seemingly secret spreading that you need to be aware of. They do this in the winter when no top growth is visible and then pop up in other places in the spring by fine roots that crawl underground. (They also reseed.) Foliage is easy to recognize and easy to pull up so I don’t think they warrant the label placed on them by some as a noxious weed.
By July of the second or third year of its bloom in your border, you’ll have a pretty good idea of the places where you’d welcome a colony of this little flower and where you wouldn’t. If foliage is starting to look shabby by then, cut it to the ground. In places where you don’t want it or don’t want it to spread —-pull it out. Sometimes I pull out so much that I fear I won’t have enough next year, but I always do. And by the way, it may go dormant in summers that are extremely dry, only to re-sprout with fall rains.
The entire plant is suppose to be edible. I have never eaten it, but I could certainly see dressing up a luncheon plate with the blossoms of evening primrose. (If you want to eat it– please — do some more research first to be on the safe side.) It is the source of evening primrose oil which is said to have all kinds of health benefits.
I like to use Oenothera in clumps of one square foot or in a large patch of 3 feet long by 2 feet deep in various places at the edge of my borders. It’s very complimentary sporadically placed in our front yard borders and an absolute necessity in my extensive back borders where it adds such a nice brightness.
Pair with blooms that are various shades of pink for an even more dramatic look or blue blooms. (If you live where blue bonnets grow what a pairing that would be!)
Just to get your imagination going here are some more ideas for their use:
1. over spring bulbs
2. a full-sun ground cover
3. along dry south and west facing walls and pavement areas
4. rocky embankments
5. gravelly driveway edges
6. rock gardens.
7. along the edges of roads and trails
8. wildflower meadows
9. any naturalistic border
10. any flower border
If you don’t have Pink Oenothera and you’re looking for a new plant give this charming little perennial wildflower a try. With a little attention, it will give you nothing but joy.
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