How to grow Gaura | 8 Easy Steps

Grow Gaura by preparing a sunny spot in your garden by clearing the area of mulch and adding organic compost and aged cow manure. Add pelleted chicken manure to the soil to provide a nitrogen boost. Place your Gaura plant in the ground and surround it with bark mulch. Water in well and wait for beautiful butterfly shaped flowers in summer.

8 Steps to grow Gaura

  1. Find a sunny spot in your garden that has free draining soil
  2. Clear the soil of mulch using a rake
  3. Dig through organic compost, aged cow manure and pelleted chicken manure
  4. Dig a hole 2x the size of the plant
  5. Plant the Gaura in the hole and backfill with garden soil
  6. Surround the Gaura with bark mulch
  7. Water the plant in and wet down the mulch to hold it in place
  8. Trim back any old flower heads and stems up to 1/3 of their length
The original white flowered Gaura can grow up to 6 feet high but smaller varieties like this one will grow around 2 feet high.

Organic soil preparation for Gaura

Prepare the soil for your Gaura plant by mixing through compost and aged cow manure. Dig the soil over with a fork and work through the compost and manure evenly. This will add organic nutrients to the soil that can last for up to a year and feed the plant.

I love Gaura and always plant them in all of my gardens. I have both the small, pink variety and the larger white variety.

How to plant Gaura

Gaura can be planted at any time of year and it will grow well. They are often sold during spring and fall as they will have flowers starting to shoot during these times. Dig a hole twice the width of the plant pot and place the plant into the soil. The roots can be teased out gently with your fingers if they have become matted before planting.

You can also trim the Gaura stems back 1/3 after planting to allow the plant to focus energy on growing new roots and new stems and leaves. In cooler months the plant will stop growing but spring back to life when the weather warms up.

Flowers will emerge around 6-7 weeks after you trim back stems on the Gaura plant.

Gaura Plant Size

Gaura plants are also know as the butterfly bush as the small flowers and long stems look like butterflies flying. The original white flowering Gaura can grow stems that are 6 feet long while new varieties like “Passionate Pink” are designed to grow to around 2 feet high.

I have large and small varieties and they work well in different areas of my garden. I plant the larger Gaura near the back of my garden beds so they can grow up and add height to my garden. I grow low growing Passionate Pink at the front of my garden to add color.

How to cut back Gaura

Gaura can be cut back after each flowering. When the flowers on the stems have finished growing and have closed up, you can trim the stems back down to the new growth. Make sure you leave at least 1/3 of the stem. The plant will then re-grow new shoots with new flowers over the next few weeks in warm weather.

New growth looks a dark purple or maroon color on smaller varieties of Gaura.

I like to cut my Gaura plant back when I first plant them. I will cut off 1/3 of the stems so the plant can re-grow and focus on establishing their roots. Within 1 month the Gaura will grow new stems and be flowering again.

Growing Gaura in shade

Gaura will successfully grow in part shade as long as they have bright light throughout the day. They will grow better in a sunnier spot in the garden but I have grown mine with only 2-3 hours of direct sunlight and they have still flowered well.

Gaura plant is a perennial

Gaura plants are a perennial and do not lose their leaves over winter. Their growth will slow in the cooler months but they will grow new stems and flowers in spring. Gaura can grow for 3-5 years very well and may grow for longer if they are well cared for.

You will not need to replace your Gaura every year like annual flowers which is a great way to save money and add color to your garden.

Gaura will keep its leaves all year round and is perfect to pair with Hawaiian Snow Bush to match the pink leaf color.

Gaura flower colors

Gaura come commonly in a white flower but new varieties will produce deep pink flowers. Some white flowers will have a pink tone and look great when paired with purple flowering plants. I have both the white variety and pink variety growing in my garden.

The pink flowering variety also has darker leaves with a shade of purple running through the leaves and stems.

Flowers will range from white, light pink to a dark pink color on the Garua bush.

Growing Gaura in full sun

Gaura will grow best when planted in full sun and an open area where they receive lots of light. They will flower regularly and grow quickly in these conditions.

Fertilizing Gaura organically

Gaura can be fertilized 1-2 times per year. Prepare the soil with organic compost and aged cow manure when you are first planting them out. After the first year you can add a small handful of pelleted chicken manure in spring and fall. Add worm juice and seaweed tonic to promote good root growth and improve soil.

Gaura companion plants

Gaura is a hardy dry loving plant so it is best to pair it with plants that love similar conditions. Companion plants for Gaura include dry loving herbs such as rosemary, sage, thyme and oregano.

Companion flowers for Gaura include annuals such as Pansies, Viola, and Alyssum. Other flowering shrubs that work great as a companion to Gaura include lavender, African Daisy and Salvia.

Companion plant Gaura with colorful shrubs like Hawaiian Snow Bush which will match the pink color in the flower. I have also added Lomandra longifolia, a bright green grass the highlight the flower color.

Gaura attracts butterflies

Gaura is also know as the butterfly bush because the tiny flowers and long stems that look like a butterflies. The flowers contain nectar that will attract butterflies. They will pollinate the flowers as they collect the nectar from the Gaura flowers to eat.

Gaura attracts bees

Gaura will attract bees to the white or pink flowers as they contain nectar that the bees will collect to take back to the hive. I have seen single bees come to come to my Gaura plants to collect nectar and rest on the flowers.

Bees will collect nectar from the Gaura flowers and pollinate the plants.

Does Gaura die back in winter?

Gaura does not die back in winter and will have leaves all year and flowers for most of the year. Cut the stems back after flowering and it will re-grow new stems and flowers.

Why a Gaura plant is not blooming

Gaura plants will not bloom if they don’t get enough sun. They need at least 6 hours of bright light to bloom. I have grown Gaura in a part shade position and they still flower well.

The other reason Gaura will not flower is if they are getting too much nitrogen. If too much nitrogen rich fertilizer is added, the plant will grow lots of leaf growth but will not flower. The easy solution is to leave the plant to absorb the nutrients over time. The plant will grow well and as the nitrogen levels go down the plant will flower.

Reasons a Gaura plant won’t grow

There are a few reasons why a Gaura plant will not grow well and what you can do about them.

Not enough sun

Gaura love sun so pick the sunniest position in your garden. The more sun for these plants the better as they originally come from Texas and love warm conditions.

Too much water

Gaura don’t like to have their roots wet for a long period of time. They are a dry loving plant so they prefer to dry out between watering. Before adding more water to the plant, check the soil around 1 inch down with your finger. If it is still damp, give the plant some more time before adding water.

Not pruning

Gaura plants will need to be trimmed back after they have finished flowering. Once the flowers have finished they will drop off the stems and the Gaura will look a bit ugly. Cut the stems back down to the bush and the plant will re-grow and look great.  

Growing Gaura Organically – Summary

Gaura are one of my favorite plants because they are hardy, they flower well and are easy to look after. I will plant Gaura in all of my gardens because they look great and are fantastic food for pollinating insects.