Thursday, May 12, 2016

Class of 2016 -- Oenothera fruticosa, sundrops

The sundrops have opened! Today is the second day I've seen flowers on Oenothera fruticosa.  
These are really bright, cheerful flowers that are visible way across the garden.
And the red buds provide extra appeal alongside the flowers.

Why I'm growing Oenothera fruticosa in my garden...

1) It's native to Tennessee and throughout much of the Eastern U.S. from Mississippi and Florida in the south all the way up to Michigan and New Hampshire in the north.

2) Virginia Native Plant Society calls it drought tolerant and deer resistant, able to grow on hot sites in poor dry soils with diurnal flowers that attract butterflies

3) Nicole Selby, a Gardener at The Scott Arboretum in Pennsylvania told me that O. fruticosa (which is also known as "narrowleaf primrose") seems to be a good plant for wildlife with insects visiting the flowers to feed on nectar, birds eating the seeds and mammals nibbling on the roots.

(That last bit about mammals eating the roots could be worrisome, but since O. fruticosa has a reputation of spreading both by seed and roots, perhaps the mammals just help keep the plant in check?)

4) Asheville Botanical Gardens says that sundrops can bloom for two months, attracting pollinators including sphinx moths, hummingbirds, honeybees and bumblebees. The foliage may have an evergreen reddish presence in winter. 

Do you grow sundrops? If so, what has been your experience with this plant?


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