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Pink Wand Flower

Plant of the Week

Pink Wand Flower
Latin: Perovskia atriplicifolia

Picture of Pink Wand Flower plant with purple flowers.

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 Horticulturist - Ornamentals
Extension News - April 28, 2000

 

The University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture does not maintain lists of retail outlets where these plants can be purchased. Please check your local nursery or other retail outlets to ask about the availability of these plants for your growing area.