Evening Primrose: Oenothera macrocarpa

Oenothera macrocarpa or evening primrose is shown with 2 flowers in sharp focus close up with water droplets.

The ample blooms of Oenothera macrocarpa appear delicate but the plant is anything but.

Huge, delicate blooms that last only 1 day…that seems like it might hardly be worth growing. However, there are many every day all summer and the plant persists even with deer herds and drought.  Not delicate after all!

Though there are a number of members of the genus worth growing, I’m simply profiling the Missouri primrose, or Evening Primrose, Oenothera macrocarpa v. missouriensis.  Taxonomists sometimes just call it O. macrocarpa and sometimes O. missouriensis.  Whichever name you find, the plant is fabulous.  There is another, similar variety with more silvery leaves O. macrocarpa v. incana ‘Silver Blade’.  Effectively all alike.  A low growing cushion of bloom that will greet you with a fresh batch of perfect flowers every morning.

I like to use this in groups of at least 3 in the front of the border.  A solitary in a rock garden can look OK as well, since in scree this is so opulent that a grouping might be more than is needed.  The group planting is for normal perennial beds not little alpines and cacti and such as in a true rock garden.  (I shall soon write on the difference between a rock garden and a garden with some rocks–that might clarify these comments).  Whether planted in a group of 3 or not, this plant will impress you.

Like most perennials, it is not a lovely thing the day it is planted.  It takes a year or so to really mature and get to work in the bed.  It does a good job of self cleaning and requires essentially no maintenance.  Even fall cleanup is very minimal.  Just let it wither in fall and look for its reliable return in spring.

close up of 6 blooms of the yellow flowered Oenothera macrocarpa v missouriensis.

Oenothera macrocarpa or the Evening Primrose produces a plentiful supply of flowers all summer.

The blooms are huge in scale with the plant, at least 2″ or up to 3″. Given the numbers, they make a great display.  So add Oenothera macrocarpa v. missouriensis to your garden and take it easy.  No work to grow this beauty.


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