How to Grow and Care for Evening Primrose

Common NameEvening primrose, common evening primrose, fever plant, cure-all
Botanical NameOenothera biennis
FamilyOnagraceae
Plant TypeHerbaceous, biennial
Mature Size3–5 ft. tall, 2–3 ft. wide
Sun ExposureFull, partial
Soil TypeMoist but well-drained
Soil pHNeutral, acidic
Bloom TimeSummer, fall
Flower ColorYellow
Hardiness Zones4-9 (USDA)
Native AreaNorth America

The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

Evening Primrose Care

If the invasive nature of evening primrose doesn’t deter you (not to mention that you may be asleep while its beautiful blooms are out), then you’re in luck, because even novice gardeners can grow this herbaceous perennial. As long as you give it plenty of light and well-draining soil, chances are your evening primrose plants will be more than happy.

Though evening primrose doesn’t require deadheading, controlling the plant is much easier if you snip or pinch off the expired blossoms to prevent the plant from self-seeding. Be sure to discard the spent flowers instead of letting them fall to the ground.

Warning

Evening primrose can grow rapidly and has been deemed an invasive species in some areas. Take care when planting evening primrose in your garden, as you’ll need to keep a close eye on it to prevent spreading.

Light

Contrary to what you may believe about a plant that only blooms at night (making it perfect for moon gardens), evening primrose actually loves sunlight. It should be grown in a spot that gets full sunlight (or partial shade) and somewhere that the plant can soak in at least six to eight hours of warm sunlight daily.

Soil

Another major requirement for growing evening primrose successfully is soil that boasts good drainage. That being said, the soil should still retain moisture, just not become water-logged. Consider adding a thick layer of mulch atop the soil to help keep the roots cool throughout the summer. Evening primrose can grow well even in rocky, sandy soil.

Water

Evening primrose does best with adequate regular watering and will need a bit more water if grown in an especially hot climate during the summer. However, if you notice any discoloration or browning on the plant’s many leaves, that’s a sure sign that your evening primrose is getting too much water and is likely suffering from root rot or a fungal disease.

Temperature and Humidity

While it blooms and grows best during late summer, evening primrose actually prefers to be cool rather than warm. The plant needs to get established with roots and foliage during the cooler early months of spring to flower well come summer. Too much heat early on in its life can cause the plant to become leggy or resemble a weed in appearance.

Fertilizer

Fertilizer is not a necessary addition to your evening primrose care regimen—it will grow just fine without the additional nutrients. However, if you are working with particularly bad soil, you can amend your mixture with some organic material.

How to Grow Evening Primrose From Seed

Evening primrose is typically grown from seed and, although you can buy the seeds online, you can just as easily collect seeds from large colonies of wild plants growing along the roadside. (Always use caution when foraging along roadways and ensure that you are not trespassing.) Once you get evening primrose seeds, direct sow them in autumn in a location that boasts full sun where the soil has been previously cultivated. Sow the seeds on top of the soil and water well. After germination, thin the seedlings so that they are approximately 1 foot apart. The seeds need a cold period, called stratification, in order to germinate. If you sow seeds indoors, use a small container filled with moistened seed-starting mix, sow the seeds on top of the soil, cover, and place in the refrigerator to mimic a natural chilling period. Take out in late winter to pot up the plants when they have two sets of true leaves.

In its first year of life, evening primrose will not flower but will simply produce a leafy rosette at ground level. During the second year, a tall, stiff flower stem shoots up out of this base. About midway up this flower stem, secondary branching occurs, and the leaves become progressively smaller the farther you go up the flower stem. The four-petaled blooms that begin emerging at the start of summer are about 1 inch wide. They’ll eventually die off and produce seeds, which are then spread throughout the landscape by various weather conditions or eaten by wild birds.

Common Pests

Varieties of beetles eat the leaves of evening primrose, but they won’t do enough damage to kill the plant. Otherwise, you can expect to see various other traditional garden pests periodically, including leafhoppers, lygus bugs, and aphids. If you notice signs of infection on your plants, treat them with insecticidal soap or a diluted oil such as neem oil.

Common Problems with Evening Primrose

Though evening primrose is a rather easy plant to grow and manage, it will sometimes show a few problems.

Decaying or Wilting

This is often the result of bacterial soft rot, which occurs at temperatures between 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit and affects plants that are sitting in soggy soil or very humid conditions.

Yellowing Foliage and/or Stunted Flowers

Fungal diseases are known to limit the plant’s ability to take up water and nutrients, leading to yellowing of the leaves, stunted flowers, and root rot. Pull these flowers up and discard them to prevent the fungus from moving to other plants.

Discoloration of Foliage and Flowers

This can be caused by gray mold, which can cover the plant with fuzzy gray and brown spots. This happens even as the plant slowly succumbs to the resulting lack of nutrients. Pull the plants to prevent the spread.

FAQ

  • Beyond being a beautiful, vibrant addition to your garden or landscape, evening primrose plants have a storied history in the medicinal community; some of the common names for the plant, such as cure-all or fever plant, allude to these holistic properties. These days, it’s most commonly seen as an herbal supplement or oil and used for skin disorders, as well as pain issues related to diseases like multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis.

  • The roots, shoots, and seeds of evening primrose are edible.

  • Primrose self-seeds readily, so a set of plants can easily come back in the garden again and again for several years.

Disclaimer: Curated and re-published here. We do not claim anything as we translated and re-published using google translator. All images and Tattoo Design ideas shared only for information purpose.

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