How to Grow Oenothera

Pale Evening Primrose is an important BC wildflower that provides food for our native pollinators. Learn how to grow Oenothera in your garden to feed the bees and bring back this beautiful flower from endangered status. This flower is also known as Suncups and Sundrops.

Latin
Oenothera pallida

Difficulty
Easy

Season & Zone
Exposure: Full sun
Zone: 4-9

Timing
O. pallida is a short lived perennial plant that self sows, but is in no way invasive. In the right setting it may naturalize. Sow indoors 8-10 weeks before last frost in peat pots to prevent root disturbance. That’s the third week in January to the first week in February on the coast. Otherwise direct sow the seeds in early spring, or autumn in mild winter areas. Seeds should germinate in 5-30 days.

Starting
Just cover the small seeds, and germinate at 18°-21°C (65°-70°F). Seeds require darkness to break dormancy.

Growing
Space plants 13-23cm (5-9″) apart. Plant in light, well drained soil with a pH of around 5.5-7.0. 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.

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