Pretty In Pink…..With A Hidden Secret

beautiful pink flowers
Mexican Evening Primrose

Mexican Evening Primrose (Oenothera berlanderi syn. Oenothera speciosa)

Aren’t these flowers just lovely?

I do love pink flowers. 

Our local big box nursery had quite a few of these on display over the weekend.  

pink flowers

Mexican Evening Primrose is a groundcover the produces beautiful pink flowers in the spring.  They are drought tolerant and hardy to Zone 5 through 9.  They do not require fertilizer and thrive on neglect.

pink flowers

Now you may be wondering what secret it is harboring.  Surely a plant with such beautiful flowers cannot have anything to hide, can it?

Well, I discovered it’s secret years ago as a new homeowner.  I was in heaven over having my own garden for the first time.  I discovered these pretty plants at my local nursery and brought some home and planted them in a raised planting bed.  

They grew very well and although they were fairly boring when not in bloom, they more then made up for it in the spring when they were covered with pink flowers.

pink flowers

 BUT, one year after I planted them, I began to notice them coming up in my lawn, adjoining beds and the cracks in the driveway.  It was then that I found out that they could be invasive.  They spread by stolons and by seed.  **It was experiences like this one that I had as a new gardener that motivated me to obtain my degree in horticulture.  However, I am still learning as I go along and just when I think I know all about a particular plant – one will surprise me by doing something different 😉

Now, I am not saying not to ever use Mexican Evening Primrose in the landscape.  They do have a place in the landscape.  For example, they do very well along dry hillsides and other areas where their growth can be contained in a particular area.

What I do recommend, is to research a plant before you decide to put in your garden.  Mexican Evening Primrose can be invasive in a residential garden, but can be the answer to a difficult, bare hillside.  This goes to prove that just because a plant has a “pretty face”, doesn’t mean that it is delicate.

**Butterfly Update:  Guess What?!!  The butterflies emerged for their chrysalis.  I will post about them soon!

I hope you all have a wonderful week!

Beautiful Flowers and New Seeds

Noelle Johnson, aka, 'AZ Plant Lady' is a author, horticulturist, and landscape consultant who helps people learn how to create, grow, and maintain beautiful desert gardens that thrive in a hot, dry climate. She does this through her consulting services, her online class Desert Gardening 101, and her monthly membership club, Through the Garden Gate. As she likes to tell desert-dwellers, "Gardening in the desert isn't hard, but it is different."
27 replies
  1. Turling
    Turling says:

    I was wondering what those were. We were at our local equestrian center a weekend ago and those were everywhere. And, in full bloom. They were quite stunning. Of course, me without my camera.

  2. Kiki
    Kiki says:

    Hi Noelle…these are such beuaties..I love the way they hold the light in the photos ..just gorgeous! When i moved into a new home a few years ago, the garden had some invasive plants already there..they definately can take over. Great post!
    Have a wonderful week!

  3. Hocking Hills Gardener
    Hocking Hills Gardener says:

    LOL! I found that out a few years ago too.I am still pulling them out in different places. I took a mess of them to my moms house. She has this steep bank along the highway that washes so i planted them there. They are spreading out all over that bank so they are welcome there and they do make a pretty show in early summer.
    One of those live and learn things. When they say it easily naturalizes or spreads New gardeners just think that is a good thing. Why don't they just say may be invasive. 😉

  4. Joseph
    Joseph says:

    Ee have wild-growing primrose in our yard and also cultivated primrose in our wildflower bed. I wouldn't mind too terribly if it spread out a little. If anything, it would make me not want to mow the lawn even more! 🙂 Thanks for the info, however! AND, I can't wait to see your butterfly pics!

  5. Rosie@leavesnbloom
    Rosie@leavesnbloom says:

    I used to grow this one but it died out after a winter or two. Its flowers are ever so pretty and I'm sure its quite a hard plant to resist. I do grow the yellow one and once its there you can never dig it out as it has such a long tap root. The taller evening primrose is a terrible seeder here – I just won't have it in the garden – I've enough weeds without those seedlings- though none of ours would be classed as invasive in the UK.

  6. Liza
    Liza says:

    Noelle, I'm glad you posted about this. I love Mexican Evening Primrose, and when I first moved in, I was so happy that there was some already in the front flower bed. Now it's pretty much taken over the yard. After it finishes blooming, I'll know what to do – move it to the barren back yard. Thanks!

  7. Muhammad khabbab
    Muhammad khabbab says:

    Very beautiful and i am wondering apart from the beauty of the flowers, aren't they fragrant? I just bought its seeds cultivar pink petticoats from thompson and morgan and your post made my impatience grow.

  8. Sophia Callmer
    Sophia Callmer says:

    Hi Noelle, I am happy that you found your way to my blog. I found yours and liked that you are gardening "the desert way". I am not living in a desert by a very windy place with bad soil that needs much water and nutrition or that you grow things that naturally exist here. have a nice day/Sophia

  9. Curbstone Valley Farm
    Curbstone Valley Farm says:

    I have such a love-hate relationship with this plant. I've never grown it personally, but I have spent hours eliminating it from my garden at our last house. A few of our neighbors grew them, and like you said, it wasn't long before they popped up everywhere. They are pretty, but they are unbelievably aggressive.

  10. sweet bay
    sweet bay says:

    They are very showy. Some just popped up beside the vegetable garden and I don't know where they came from. I tried putting them at my hot dry mailbox where they naturally died.

  11. lostlandscape (James)
    lostlandscape (James) says:

    As an inexperienced gardener I planted a seed packet of these and was thrilled to see them come up and bloom with masses of spectacular, delicate flowers for several years. But like you I had the same issues with them spreading. In fact, 18, 19 years later, I'm still pulling them up. I've gotten over the pretty part by now.

  12. Helen at summerhouse
    Helen at summerhouse says:

    They are lovely flowers, too bad about their little secret. Isn't it a shame that a plant that can be successful against the odds, ends up becoming unpopular because of those very strengths.

  13. Brad
    Brad says:

    I've been guilty of planting things I didn't realize were invasive as well. And they are often quite beautiful, otherwise they wouldn't be planted in the first place. But with knowledge I've also not planted many things. The learning curve is steep at first.

  14. Bernie
    Bernie says:

    We have a similar problem with Lantana … no-one in their right mind ever grows Lantana here in the tropics of Oz.

    In the bushland surrounding my home there are huge clumps of it measuring over 6 metres wide by 3 metres high … it is our number 1 most obnoxious weed! We spend a lot of time and money trying to eradicate it from the natural bushland here. All because, years ago, there was no research done about its growth habit in our climate and conditions.

  15. NellJean
    NellJean says:

    Evening Primrose is used as a highway beatification plant on the median strip of four-lane highways here, out in the middle of nowhere.

    Yay! for the butterflies.

  16. Amy
    Amy says:

    Such a gentle pink for this tough survivor! I've got hundreds blooming in my bed out front. Usually if I pull most of the tall ones that have started to form seeds (and leave the tiny ones), there are still plenty next spring but it leaves some space for zinnia seeds. Probably only works for established patches.

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