VIU Milner Gardens and Woodland

Plant Pick: Gaura, Whirling Butterflies

Latin name: Oenothera lindheimeri 'Bantam White'

by Vancouver Island Master Gardeners Association

Gaura is a lovely perennial plant that looks wonderful in native and natural looking gardens. Its common name, whirling butterflies, refers to the flowers which resemble small, charming butterflies whirling around on the slender flower stalks.

Other occasionally used common names include appleblossom grass, bee blossom, wand flower, or white gaura.

This plant can be slow to emerge in the spring and although the species will self-seed, this cultivar will not come true from seed. Consistent deadheading throughout the flowering period ensures a longer bloom.

This plant is loved by butterflies.

Bantam White  Bantam White 2




Basal clump


Narrow, lance-shaped leaves are entire or faintly and irregularly toothed. Leaves may be wavy, and some are spotted with maroon. The foliage varies in color from dark green to burgundy. The foliage dies back to the ground in the winter (except in mild climates where it is evergreen) and growth may be slow to emerge in spring.


30-41 cm and 46-56 cm wide

Hardiness Zone:



Full sun to partial shade

Flower shape and colour:

White with pink tinges

Leaf colour:

Darkish green and sometimes with burgundy tinges

Flower time:

Summer through fall

Preferred soil

and watering:

Best grown in sandy, loamy, well-drained soils in full sun.

Pests and diseases



Gaura was a genus of about 20 species in the evening primrose family (Onagraceae), but the common name generally refers to Gaura lindheimeri. (Taxonomic research in the early 2000’s moved this and other Gaura species into the genus Oenothera, so the plant became Oenothera lindheimeri, although this name change has not been widely adopted in the horticultural industry). ‘Bantam ® White’ is a registered name for this series of plants. The trade name is ‘White’ and the cultivar name is ‘Bantam White’.