Gaura lindheimeri - when to prune?

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MikeHardman

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Gaura lindheimeri - when to prune?
« on: November 16, 2013, 02:08:59 PM »
I bought and planted ten gauras in March 2013 (photo), and they have done brilliantly (last two photos 28aug13)
They are still full of flower.
But we're due for some storms soon. They would probably get damaged, as they have a lot of 'sail area'. So I feel I should sacrifice the flowers and cut them back now.

Is this a good idea?
(or are there other issues I am not seeing?)

How hard could/should I cut them back?

If I cut them back now, should I plan on pruning them again in spring as well?

What's the life expectancy of well-grown Gaura lindheimeri?


Mike
Geologist by Uni training, IT consultant, Referee for Viola for Botanical Society of the British Isles, commissioned author and photographer on Viola for RHS (Enc. of Perennials, The Garden, The Plantsman).
I garden near Polis, Cyprus, 100m alt., on marl, but have gardened mainly in S.England

Umbrian

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Re: Gaura lindheimeri - when to prune?
« Reply #1 on: November 16, 2013, 06:51:26 PM »
Mike, I find that Gaura  can get very big and woody after a 2/3years and grow increasingly tall each year thereafter. This means they need a lot of space to grow into but can look quite spectacular. I normally cut most of mine back in the late autumn, before the really bad weather starts and when they have just about finished flowering. Some I leave though for winter interest as the stems often turn a lovely bright red colour. I cut them as close to the ground as I can - I used to be afraid of loosing them but have found that even when we get a cold winter they come through OK as they have a deep tap root. Now I tend to take out any that are obviously getting past their sell by date and allow self sets to replace them. I am never short of these and try to weed out unwanted ones in the spring before they get too big and get that tap root down! This year, to try to prevent every mature plant growing too big I cut back the new growth on some to encourage later, and hopefully shorter stems but by the end of the summer they were all much the same! At this point I cut back all the long, woody stems on some plants, leaving just the younger green ones. Due to a warm autumn and some decent rain these are still flowering profusely and at a lower level.
Gaura is an easy plant in some respects but does need a bit of work to get the best out of it if part of a "organised" area - give it its head in a larger, wilder area and it is stunning.
MGS member living and gardening in Umbria, Italy for past 19 years. Recently moved from my original house and now planning and planting a new small garden.

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MikeHardman

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Re: Gaura lindheimeri - when to prune?
« Reply #2 on: November 16, 2013, 09:45:26 PM »
Umbrian,
That's brilliant; first hand experience; thank you so much.
Now all I've got to do is pick up secateurs and pluck up courage!
Mike
Geologist by Uni training, IT consultant, Referee for Viola for Botanical Society of the British Isles, commissioned author and photographer on Viola for RHS (Enc. of Perennials, The Garden, The Plantsman).
I garden near Polis, Cyprus, 100m alt., on marl, but have gardened mainly in S.England