Thunder Bay gardener Susan Renaud – a Master Gardenener in Training – shared photos and thoughts about the Oenethera flava she grew this year. "I have one of our Master Gardeners to thank for the unique experience of watching this unusual plant perform this summer," says Susan. "I managed to snap several pictures during its bloom times and was always fascinated how quickly they disappeared when the sun warmed their faces."
This hardy native plant is among the 145 plant species in the genus Oenothera. You may recognize the common names of other species, including Evening Primrose, Suncups, and Sundrops.
Some, according to garden writer
Liz Primeau, call this plant "Dandelion Primrose or Dandelion-leaved Primrose (because of its lookalike foliage), or Yellow Moonflower." You can clearly see the narrow, serrated leaves (very much like a dandelion) in Susan's picture on the right.
So many names may add to the mystery, but It's worth noting that Night Blooming Primrose is not related to true primroses which belong to genus Primula (Wikipedia).
These plants are all native to the Americas, possibly originating in Mexico and Central America.
The garden guide on SFGate offers good cultivation advice. "Night-blooming evening primroses generally prefer full sun and grow best in a bright, sunny spot. They can tolerate some light shade for a few hours each day, but deep shade compromises growth and flower production. They tolerate all types of garden soil but prefer sandy, well-drained types. If your soil contains clay that tends to hold water, add some fine sand at planting time to improve its drainage. The plants need only an average amount of moisture, although once-weekly watering after setting out new plants can help them get a good start. Once the primrose has established, avoid giving it too much moisture at the root zone."
Oenothera flava can survive in the northern garden, but low temperatures and a wet spring can be hard on this perennial. Susan recommends checking the root early in the season. The offshoots that appear from the root crown often survive, even if the main root dies back. These root pieces can be potted up to start new plants.
"My NBP grew to a mound of about 8 inches high, with arching leaves and a spread of about 15 inches," Susan reports. "The bloom stems arched up at about 10 inches. There were about 24 blooms over summer."
Although the blooms of Oenothera flava fade equickly, there is a magic in their coming and going. "I, for one, am happy to have had the opportunity to witness this beauty in action," Susan says.
You can see it too, but watching this video.
Read the post about Susan Renaud's garden.
Read about another night blooming plant, Mirabilis jalapa 'Limelight'