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Oenothera fruticosa (sundrops)
Species Distribution Map: Click to enlarge
Map Color Key © 2013 BONAP

Oenothera fruticosa

sundrops

A tough and reliable perennial, well-suited to hot dry sites. The stems of Oenothera fruticosa are thin, hairy, and reddish with similar leaves. The buds begin as red but open into beautiful bright yellow flowers in early summer. Easy, dependable, a strong grower that can spread a bit, particularly in sandy soils. Great color for a meadow! Native to dry soil, open fields, and open woods from Nova Scotia to Florida.

SIZE
Oenothera fruticosa LP50 - 50 per flat Availability
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Height

15-24 Inches

Spread

3 Feet

Spacing

12-24 Inches

Bloom Color

Yellow

USDA Hardiness Zone 4-9

sundrops Interesting Notes

A tough and reliable perennial, Oenothera fruticosa is well-suited to hot and dry sites. The stems of Oenothera fruticosa are thin, hairy, and reddish with similar leaves. The buds begin as red but open into beautiful bright yellow flowers in early summer, growing from 16-36” tall and up to 3’ wide. Sundrops are an easy, dependable, and strong grower that can spread a bit, particularly in sandy soils. The plant used to be a favorite for neighbors to pass along but dropped in popularity over time. Now, with the resurgence of native plants, sundrops are gaining a foothold yet again. It has great color for a meadow!

Oenothera fruticosa is native to dry soil, open fields, and open woods from Nova Scotia to Florida. It performs best in full sun to light shade in light and sandy soil. Overall, the plant has a vigorous and sprawling clump habit – to encourage a new flush of growth and to prolong the flowering season, cut back foliage to basal crown mid-summer. An additional benefit to this plant is its evergreen basal rosette during the winter that becomes a bright green-red – great for groundcover to deter winter annuals in a planting.

Oenothera fruticosa supports specialist species, including Melissodes fimbriatus and Lasioglossum oenotherae. Moths pollinate the flowers, particularly Sphinx moths. Other occasional visitors include the Ruby-Throated Hummingbird, honeybees and bumblebees.  Sundrops are a cheerful addition to a perennial border and also look wonderful dotted into a warm-season grass meadow, bringing a punctuation of seasonal cheer as it blooms. We have noticed its ability to self-sow freely and that is a consideration when choosing this native plant for a planting a design. 

Oenothera fruticosa Growing and Maintenance Tips

Performs best in full sun to light shade in light and sandy soil. A vigorous, sprawling clump habit. Cut back foliage to promote a new flush of growth to prolong flowering season. Propagate by division, softwood cuttings or seed in early summer. A wonderful addition to borders and perennial beds.

Good Substitutions

sundrops Oenothera fruticosa 'Fireworks'

Key Characteristics & Attributes

Full Sun
Full Sun
Pollinator-friendly
Pollinator-friendly
Songbird-friendly
Songbird-friendly
Deer Resistant
Deer Resistant
Drought Tolerant
Drought Tolerant
Salt Tolerance
Salt Tolerance
Groundcover
Groundcover
Summer
Summer

Additional Information

Soil Moisture Needs
Dry
Average
Green Infrastructure
Meadow/Prairie
Erosion Control
Green Roof
Wetland Indicator Status
Falcutative (FAC)
Plug Type
Landscape Plug™
Attributes
Native to North America
Season of Interest (Flowering)
Late Spring / Early Summer
Propagation Type
Open pollinated