Thursday’s Feature: Evening Primrose

This Thursday I am featuring a plant I often overlook. However, this year it has seeded itself in a rather prominent position at the front of a flower bed and is demanding attention!

Oenothera odorata ‘Sulphurea’

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This perennial does not die down completely in winter but it still needs time and warmth to start producing its long stems, which have buds all the way up them. It starts flowering in June and will continue to flower all summer, even until October if it is mild. It is a very hardy plant – coping with extremes down to -28°C.

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The cup-shaped flowers open when it is not too hot, and although it is called Evening Primrose I find it often opens flowers in the morning too. They are short-lived, but just as beautiful as they curl back up. This creamy yellow one turns pinker as it fades. Quite a remarkable colour.

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Oenothera are noted for their importance for pollinators such as hummingbird hawk moths, and many of the common ones – Oenothera biennis – grow nearby on undisturbed ground. I have only seen a few bees on mine this year though…

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This one is supposed to smell wonderful in the evenings. Unfortunately I haven’t ever detected more than a faint fragrance. It is still an enrichment for any garden though, but it will settle where it is happiest and not necessarily where you originally plant it!

I am linking in to the Thursday’s Feature meme at Cosmos and Cleome. Do visit Kimberley there to see what she has featured this week. And do join in!

44 thoughts on “Thursday’s Feature: Evening Primrose

  1. It is so interesting that there are so many varieties of Evening Primrose around the world. I have recently been growing Oenothera grandiflora collected by William Bartram in the 1700’s in the American South. He sent the plants to England and Europe. Mine only bloom in the fall.

  2. I’ve heard of Evening Primrose, Cathy. I wonder if it would do well in my climate. It might, since you mention it’s drought tolerant. Of course you get more rainfall in general, but it still might be hearty enough for us to cultivate. It is graceful and wild at the same time. I really love it. I think I’ll go on a hunt! 🙂

  3. I had an Evening Primrose for a while, but it was a different cultivar, with larger, dark green leaves. It was not as upright as yours, but rather sprawled over the ground and spread like mad. I think I got frustrated with its messy habit and eventually pulled it out. It was a Missouri Primrose (Oenothera macrocarpa) http://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/PlantFinder/PlantFinderDetails.aspx?kempercode=e390

    Lots of people around here have the Oenothera biennis, and I admire it in their gardens. I should get some for my own, since it’s a nice bit of bright color bridging spring into summer when not much else is blooming!

    Thanks for joining in and sharing your primrose, Cathy!

    • Thanks for the link. I have actually got another one, bought under the name Oenothera missouriensis, which is in fact the same as O. macrocarpa! It is flowering beautifully at the moment, but as you know it is a small low-growing plant not at all like this one I have featured. Sadly it also doesn’t seem to have much fragrance. Thank you for hosting Kimberley!

    • She certainly reminded me who is in charge! Few plants seed themselves in my garden… except on pathways or overhanging pathways and the lawn, where they eventually have to be removed! 😉

  4. I really like this one! I love the airiness and the long bloom season sounds great, I’ll have to add it to my ‘wants’ list 😉
    All the oenothera I’ve tried are either weedy or messy looking but I knew there were nicer ones out there!

    • Some of them do look untidy, but this one is quite sturdy provided it has space around it and plenty of sunshine. I’m sure you would get it to grow well for you Frank!

    • I just looked that one up and would like one in the future. It looks similar to the other one I grow: O. macrocarpa but with larger flowers. I have learnt a lot from this post as everyone seems to have experience with different ones!

  5. Lovely dark stems, Cathy, with that pale yellow flower – I guess, judging by what Jason says above, it is worth searching out ‘Sulphurea’ for the pale colour? I must have another go at trying to get them to ‘like me’.

  6. The name “Evening Primrose” is evocative. I can see the lady, refine, hiding behind a hat with a large brim, or a veil which shades part of her face. She only comes out in the evening, because the sunlight is hard to take – she being of a fairer complexion. Oh yes, there’s poetry in that name! 🙂

    • Oh yes, what a lovely image. Perfect! The plant is tall and willowy too, so that adds to the imagery of a delicate and elegant figure.Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

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