Sign up for News & Availability Emails
Site Search:
Oenothera fruticosa (sundrops)
Species Distribution Map: Click to enlarge
Map Color Key © 2013 BONAP

Oenothera fruticosa


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.

Oenothera fruticosa LP50 - 50 per flat Availability
Add to My North Creek Nurseries Wish List


15-24 Inches


3 Feet


12-24 Inches

Bloom Color


USDA Hardiness Zone 4-9

sundrops Interesting Notes

Narrowleaf evening-primrose is a delightful spreading herbaceous perennial up to 2’ tall and 3’ wide that brings a long season of flower color to the garden. Unlike most of its relatives, this species flowers during the day, producing bright yellow 2” diameter flowers in profusion. With its informal habit, narrowleaf evening-primrose makes an excellent companion on the border edge or meadow. It prefers well-drained soils, is pH adaptable, and performs best in full sun. Narrowleaf evening-primrose combines well with Coreopsis majorLiatris microcephalaTradescantia hirsuticaulisSolidago spp., Packera tomentosa, and Helianthus porteri. - Mt. Cuba Center

Oenothera comes from the Greek "Oïnos", wine and "ther", wild animal. For the Ancients, it designated a plant whose roots, soaked in wine, and would have enabled them to tame wild beasts. With many varieties to choose from, these plants will bloom almost 24 hours a day.

Oenothera fruticosa, commonly called sundrops or southern sundrop, is an erect, day-flowering member of the evening primrose family. This native typically grows 15-30” tall and produces terminal clusters of bright yellow four-petaled flowers on stems clad with lanceolate green leaves. Flowers are followed by distinctive club-shaped seed capsules. Each flower is short-lived, but flowers bloom in succession over a fairly long period of two months. The beauty of this variety is its evergreen reddish color in winter.

Sundrops are easily grown in average, medium moisture, well-drained soils in full sun. They prefer heat and dryish soils. They will tolerate poor soils, light shade and some drought. Although sundrops tolerate poor soils, they do better when the soil is supplemented with organic material. Sundrops will grow in partial shade, but flowers best in the more sunny spots. Once a popular pass-along in old fashioned gardens, sundrops are enjoying a renaissance with the growing popularity of native plants and wildflowers.

Moths pollinate the flowers, particularly Sphinx moths. Other occasional visitors include the Ruby-Throated Hummingbird, honeybees and bumblebees. The insects seek nectar, although some of the bees collect pollen. - The Botanical Gardens at Asheville

According to the following German saying of the 18th century, "a pound of the root of evening primrose gives more strength than a quintal of beef", the root of evening primrose was thought to be very nutritive. The Amerindians used it differently: they used it to rub their moccasins before hunting, to mask their smell and get closer to the animals. One of the magic powers of evening primrose was actually to make hunters lucky.

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.

Key Characteristics & Attributes

Full Sun
Full Sun
Deer Resistant
Deer Resistant
Salt Tolerance
Salt Tolerance
Drought Tolerant
Drought Tolerant

Additional Information

Soil Moisture Needs
Plug Type
Landscape Plug™
Season of Interest (Flowering)
Late Spring / Early Summer
Green Infrastructure
Green Roof
Native to North America
Propagation Type
Open pollinated