Plant of the Week
Pink Wand Flower
Latin: Perovskia atriplicifolia
Butterflies skittering across the tops of a perennial border are a welcome
addition to any garden. But in the case of pink wand flower, what can easily be
mistaken as a flight of small butterflies actually are the delicate blooms of
this lovely wildflower. Pink wand flower is one of the six plants that were
selected to be honored as "Arkansas Select" plants for 2000. This program,
jointly sponsored by the University of Arkansas Horticulture Department, the
Cooperative Extension Service and the Arkansas Nurseryman’s Association,
spotlights some outstanding new or underused garden plants for Arkansas
gardeners. The plants are adapted statewide and are readily available from
Arkansas nurseries and garden centers.
A number of our native American wild flowers have recently made it into
the nursery trade where they have added a touch of wildness to the charms of
oversexed and over-bred garden flowers. Gaura, or wand flower, is native in the
southwest and the wild white flowered form is fairly common along the western
edge of Arkansas. Its blooms appear from early summer through fall.
Pink wand flower has cherry pink blooms which unfurl to an inch or more
across on long, slender erect stems. The plant is a member of the evening
primrose family and has four petals typical of that family. White stamens
prominently protrude from the flat face of the flower. An established plant may
have 50 or more of these slender flowering arms thrusting about in every
direction, adding to the illusion of a flight of butterflies. Most of the
foliage is on the bottom third of the 2-foot tall plant.
Gaura, which means superb in Latin, was first collected by an exiled German
nobleman, F. J. Lindheimer (1801-1879), who collected plants in Texas during the
19th century. It is new to
cultivation, first being introduced by Parks Seeds about a dozen years ago
as a filler plant for the perennial border. Siskyou Pink apparently was named
for the nursery located in Washington state’s Siskyou Mountain range which
introduced the pink form in the mid 1990s.
Plants grow about two feet tall and wide and have an open, airy look. It
is best used in full sun or very light shade. The open nature of the plant makes
them excellent combination plants for the border where they blend effectively
with flowers having yellow or blue shades.
Gaura is a tough plant that will withstand considerable drought once
established. Pink wand flower does not appear to produce many seeds and I have
never seen it reseed in the garden. Propagation is easiest by taking cuttings as
it begins to grow in the spring. If plants cease blooming with the heat of July,
shear them back in late summer for a second flush of blooms as cooler weather
returns in the fall. The plant has no serious insect or disease problems
provided it is planted in a well drained site.
By: Gerald Klingaman, retired
Extension News -
April 28, 2000
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